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12 June, 2011

Too Early To Call for Bob Bradley's Head?

Going into the Gold Cup this year, Bob Bradley was riding a high. He had a decent, albeit extremely lucky WC 2010 showing, a win against Spain, a first half surprise upset in the making on Brazil before they came back, and there was even talk about him taking over the US Olympic team as well.

Fast forward to Friday, June 3rd. Spain comes to Foxborough with a full squad and proceeds to dismantle a US team trying to tune up for the Gold Cup to the sounds of a 4-0 whooping. Our starting lineup was a joke. Sure, we said we're resting Gooch... and Jones and Dempsey and Jozy and well, pretty much the whole team apparently.

How we even get friendlies like this astonishes me. If we truly want a test prior to the Gold Cup, we shouldn't be picking up the reigning WC champs a week before our first match. Conversely, if we are going to play a friendly against a top 10 team, we should actually field our best squad, not Tim Ream (it hurts me to even say his name after last night's hack fest), Kljestans and Wondolowski et al. It will be an absolute shocker if we play Spain again outside of a major competition again. This is just begging for their players to get hurt and all so after their club season is done because admit it, our D is now a bunch of hacks.

There was a time when we actually could boast some of three of the top 20 keepers in the world and a backline that could keep us in a match while Landycakes put a few pks in to keep the scoreline honest. Now, we are overloaded at mid yet somehow feel beholden to Kljestans and Jermaine Jones for f's sake. We're still wondering what happened to Torres and why Davies or Teal Bunbury can't make it, but alas, Bob Bradley will never answer.

No, instead, as per usual in a thumping, we are "trying out some players". Seriously, with the frequency he goes through his regular 25 man team, you'd think he'd know their capabilities by now. If not, he's a poor judge of player skill. If he's showing favoritism by giving players matches to get to certain career CAPs or something, then he's obviously biased and refuses to give a good player a chance, ipso facto, he's a bad coach. If we rely on coming back in the second half against most teams like we did in South Africa, then he is a poor player manager, and therefore a poor coach. If players perform better at the club level (I'm looking at you Dempsey) and frequently look lost or get MoM honors for playing half a game, then the coach is to blame for not getting the most out of his players or getting a lineup/strategy that can take advantage of their natural tendencies.

In other words, fire Bob Bradley.

There was talk after the 2-0 Canada win, by a news source that slips my mind at the moment, that said an early round loss/elimination by the US should be a death knell for Bob Bradley. So, fast forward to today, Sunday June 12th. We sit 2nd in a tie with Canada. We've lost, at home, to Panama for the first time ever. And in doing so, suffered our first group stage loss in the Gold Cup EVER. And this is going back several years with much poorer players. Have we really dropped off so much? Regardless, going into the final match of the group stage, Panama has already made it through so if Canada wins by more than we beat Guadeloupe (who made the semis last time around mind you) in a game that Panama has no real need to win, then we are out. Out on our own turf. Eliminated. Gone.

This is tough to swallow. Going in, we were expected to win the group and it was just a matter of who came in 2nd. Now, we sit on the brink of elimination.

So what happens if the US goes on and progresses? Well, we should still consider that strike 2 for Bob Bradley. We have already given him the reins for the next 3 years (not including this year) in a show of mediocrity. As per usual, good ol' Skeletor has taken that as a pass to sit on his hindquarters and watch the status quo. We should never accept that from a coach. Well, you are wondering, what if we win it all? See my previous comment.

Games like the blowout loss to Spain and the lack of bringing quality lineups like we failed to do in Copa America last time we were invited are what is causing any good will other countries have for us to vanish. We'll never get those friendlies again; they are merely a waste of time and energy for other big time countries now. Mexico at least brings the pain when they travel and have actually shown up ready to play in several marquee match-ups where all we have is having beaten Mexico a handful of times and that time we beat Spain. That's it.

I would say that I wish you would join me in cheering for Guadeloupe (who has produced several 1st team French National Team players in the past 20yrs), on Tuesday, but I may be asking too much of you in that. We all know that disappointing displays by the USMNT don't get you fired, they merely mean that you won't get your contract renewed. Bet Bradley is thanking his lucky stars he just resigned then, huh? On the 14th, just realize that balding man standing on the sidelines in the US jersey against Guadeloupe isn't there to help improve US Soccer, here's there to bury it.

Since my post, a great page has come to my attention... The clock noting the last time the US lost to Panama. Next time you see Bob's smug face after a US loss, swing by this page and be reminded.
Photo: Hanna Barbera

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