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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.
Freddy Polio
Monday June 27, 2011 11:27 pm
Once a dominant team on home soil the mighty have fallen. Three, count them, three times in a row the US has fallen to Mexico. 1) Gold Cup 2009, 2) WC Qualifier in Mexico and 3) Gold Cup 2011. It hurts like hell to know that we were once the dominant for ten years on our home soil. But now, oh the misery! It's time for change. Now. What a lackluster performance in the group stages the US played. We barely beat Guadalupe, we lost to Panama. Then, we do get revenge, but in the end we didn't get the sweetest revenge which would have been beating Mexico.
Jorge
Monday June 27, 2011 8:49 pm
I actually find UtahGeoff comment completely off target. What he is proposing is done in a better way almost everyday in the USA. A few dozen academies, including those affiliated to MLS clubs holds tryouts and thousand of talented kids take part, a few hundred American kids travel to Europe every year to open tryouts as well, and most of them are not thinking of scholarships. If you look into High school soccer programs then your comment holds some water.

Do you really think another American TV reality circus is going to do better than soccer institution tryouts? You are daydreaming, not a single soccer superpower became what it is like that, Brazil, Germany, Italy, won multiple World Cups running the sport like a professional business, not a circus. The NASL was a circus and it deflated as quick as it inflated.

The USA needs to do what Germany did in the last 12-16 years, what Holland has done for 40 years now. A comprehensive program from top to bottom involving many social components exclusively related to the sport (no TV shows please) that will teach a single and coherent philosophy, in some countries this comes naturally: Brazil, Spain, Italy, in others you need to create the structure and let the system run by itself within those parameters.

Jurgen Klinsmann asked for that and the US Federation rejected the idea, see where we are today? We are losing time.
jamal
Monday June 27, 2011 6:02 pm
Going through school systems works for american football and basketball ext.

. But not for football.

P.s. been wanting bob to leave for a while. Most of his "big" wins were luck or an opponent meltdown.
ALEXANDER A KOVALESKY
Monday June 27, 2011 3:59 pm
of all the keep/replace comments, only utahgeoff offered usable advice but in order to implement the advice USSF needs someone at the helm with the ability to innovate. a background in the sport would be a start. when nothing comes from the top good results are difficult to attain. watch the good seats in the European leagues and see the people responsible for team performance suffering for what they put on the pitch. is Gulati suffering?
Ravey
Monday June 27, 2011 3:28 pm
The standard of play has gotten increasingly worst for the USMNT. The confederations cup success was a facade. We see these guys playing bad and winning, how in the world is that conducive to the sport? Unfortunately, I'd rather see these guy's playing good and losing. At least we will have hope for the future, and that the USMNT will be good and win one day.

They don't seem to have fun out there. They seem tense, and uneasy.
Brent
Monday June 27, 2011 11:25 am
Superchivo You hit it right on the head. It's the system that will need to changed. Pay to play baby. It's America though. The MLS and USL teams all need to have youth teams and the University teams should also work with the local youth teams to create some kind of Pro environment. The European system is just far more advanced and simplistic. When the MLS owners realize that they can groom young talent and sell them for High Prices this will change. It is happening, just very slowly. Hell, we can't do it overnight and even Mexico has probably 70-80 year head start on us.

The Pageguy- I am a staunch BB supporter but then he puts in Bornstein and for the life of me, I can not figure out why, except that he is left footed. I, too shuddered when he came in. Why not sub in Spector? I would be OK if he got fired but don't think he deserves it. We did make the finals.

Is there anything important from now until qualifying?
Bobeto
Monday June 27, 2011 10:20 am
Excellent and gutsy article. You are spot on when it comes to staleness of the US Team. All coaches success are based not only on WC appearances but how they perform vs rival International teams (ala Mexico). After losing 5-0 to Mexico in the last Gold Cup, I thought BB should have been fired. Can you imagine England losing 5-0 to Ireland, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland by that score? This time losing 4-2 after leading 2-0 cannot be tolerated. If a change is not made it will be another set back for US Soccer. If we expect the team to improve and the media to care, a change MUST be made. Just look at Mexico when they found the right coach....they found new talent and are playing a beautiful style of Soccer.
Matthew
Monday June 27, 2011 10:01 am
Bradley must go. Been saying for quite some time that his tactics are lame and he consistently makes boneheaded decisions with regard to player selection. I also feel like he does a poor job of looking towards the future as well. Having said all that, I won't hold my breath.
Paul
Monday June 27, 2011 9:06 am
Too bad your story isn't picked up by the AP. Every US Soccer fan should be disgusted by BB and his ridiculous Bornstein sub!
SuperChivo
Sunday June 26, 2011 9:33 pm
I'm a slap you back, I didn't know that it was Bob's job to recruit and groom young Mexican and Central American kids playing creative soccer in the parks. I thought that was why we had Bradenton, and Academies.

The problem with this article is that it is simplistic and stupid to think that Bob Bradley is all that stands between the 20 something position that the U.S. is rated right now and the elite 8, the seeded teams for the World Cup, which is where we aspire to be. That is the kind of thinking that had the Mexican struggling against the U.S. for years, until they decided to rethink their system and put some of that amazing boatloads of cash that they make back into player development. And it doesn't need said that the Mexican federation WAY out earns the American.

So fire Bob, keep Bob, the results will be roughly the same as long as the system that feeds the kids into the national program remains the same. And it is something that the federation is working on but needs much, much more.

And I would say that even more guilty than Bob are simplistic sports writers who know better but put out this tripe because they know it will get attention instead of actually doing journalism and reporting on things, which is obviously something that they know nothing about.
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