EDGAR ZUNIGA - Sunday, June 26, 2011
Bob Bradley must go.
He is done.
If Sunil Gulati has a pair, he will sack up and do what must be done before US Soccer is damned to another World Cup cycle with Bob at the helm.
When the Federation was unable to come to terms with anyone to take over for Bob after World Cup 2010, it seemed that they settled for Bob because he is a sure thing to get the US into Brazil 2014.
Mark my words: it will not be easy.
Well, it's never easy when you have to go play in claustrophobic Central American stadiums and the gaping maw of Azteca Stadium. However, under Bob's second term, the US has plateaued and may even be experiencing a dip in performance.
Bob has taken this team as far his sterile, unimaginative, robotic system can.
Look back at all of Team USA's successes under his command and you will notice a pattern of the US winning important games based on grit and determination - a hallmark of US Soccer.
The goal by Giovani dos Santos that sealed the game at 4-2 was a thing of beauty, as he deftly eluded frantic US defenders to finally curl that shot over Tim Howard. You will NEVER see a player under Bob's tutelage do something like that because he abhors that style of play.
The only player that comes close to doing anything similar to that now is Freddy Adu...and where has he been all this time? If Adu was not playing his butt off in the beginning of the game with his individual play, the US would have never scored those first two goals.
Bob must go.
He has become a detriment to the growth of US Soccer and visibly lacks the tactical knowledge to get the US to the next level of evolution.
Take for example what the Mexican team has done. They had become nonchalant against other CONCACAF foes, including the US. They were the giants in the region and had reached a point where they were resting on their laurels.
Then, the US experienced a sudden increase in skill and athleticism to go with that trademark grit and Mexico suddenly found themselves knocked to the dirt looking up at the Stars and Stripes.
It took them a while (God knows the Mexican Federation is a corrupt mess), but they finally stopped trying to match the US and instead focused on getting past them and to that next echelon by encouraging individuality and rewarding imagination - two things you will never see Bob do.
Watching a Bob-led training camp is pretty simple. He tells the players what he expects of them and then they go out and do...exactly what he tells them to do. They know that if they do not conform to his standards or - God forbid - step out of line by trying something different, they will not make the cut.
Think that a kid that gets called in to training camp will impress Bob with nimble ball-dribbling skills and sick moves? Nah...he wants guys that will fall in line with his lame tactics and style of play...that never change.
Why do you think the US got absolutely destroyed by Spain in that friendly before the Gold Cup?
Why do you think Team USA had such a hard time in this tournament? Why will they continue to have a hard time in World Cup qualifying with Bob at the controls? It is because the other teams already know what to expect from him and the team.
As long as Bob remains in control, things will just get harder for the US.
And, you can only win so many games just on grit and determination alone.
Interestingly enough, believe it or not, there are people out there that still support Bob. Be it blind devotion to the National Team coach (no matter what), or they just have a thing for a robotic fella who stands by and blinks as his team gets reamed, they think Bob is the bee's knees.
Allow me to give you a verbal slap. SLAP. Snap out of it. Bob is not the answer. He is not the future.
You would think that after all this time he would have figured out something to do with the eternally porous backline that is the USA's Achille's heel. But, all we see is more of the same, and other teams know to exploit that.
Look at what happened in the Gold Cup final when Steve Cherundolo went down. Bob could have moved some guys around, maybe moved Carlos Bocanegra out to the left, and brought in Oguchi Onyewu or Tim Ream to the middle. No. He brings in Jonathan Bornstein, who lost his starting spot with Tigres UANL in the Mexican Primera Division and amassed an astounding 274 minutes of play this past Apertura 2011 season.
You think it was a coincidence that Mexico went on a tear after Bob subbed in Johnny B.?
Hey, just saying.
Somewhere, out there in this vast nation of ours, the future superstars of the US National Team are waiting to be discovered. They are flamboyant. They have tons of skill. They have the confidence to take on two or three defenders when needed.
However, you will not find them playing on some fancy club team or high-profile high school team. They are sons of Mexican and Central and South American parents and can be found playing in parks, parking lots and street corners.
But, the way the current system is set up under Gulati and Bob, the only US jersey these kids will ever put on will be the one they buy in a store. In fact, don't be surprised if they end up playing elsewhere.
As it is now, with Mexico absolutely destroying the US (in what has been a mostly dismal Gold Cup), CONCACAF teams can all smell the blood in the water and will come out with more confidence, knowing they can beat a wounded Team USA.
You think that losses like this don't have lingering psychological effects? After being up 2-0 in their second international final and losing miserably, this one will hurt for a long time. For US supporters, especially the newer generation that had grown up with the US handling Mexico on American soil, it will feel rather uncomfortable to deal with the verbal abuse from Mexican fans (and you will hear it).
For Team USA, it is a fall from what was already a shaky pedestal.
But, try as he may, Bob doesn't have what it takes to get the job done.
Sorry, but getting to the World Cup isn't even a guarantee anymore.
Bob is at the end of his rope and it's time to cut him loose.