BRADLEY NOT LOOKING BEYOND BRAZIL
United States head coach Bob Bradley says he is focused on the task at hand as his team wraps up its preparation for Tuesday's friendly versus Brazil.
Bradley has been the subject of much talk across the pond regarding various open coaching positions.
Just a few weeks ago Bradley was linked with the Fulham job which was ultimately filled by Mark Hughes. Now in the wake of Martin O'Neill's sudden departure from Aston Villa, oddsmakers have once again tabbed the US head man as a possible replacement.
While Bradley maintains that he wishes to coach in Europe one day, he says that his concentration is solely on the US squad.
"On my end from the end of the World Cup I've said there will be a period when both sides will asses what needs to happen next," Bradley told YA on Monday. "I've had a few discussions with US Soccer, but this match comes at a tricky time, so we agreed that it was most important to get on and prepare for this date and have discussions after this game. That's where it stands.
"I've said over and over always excited about new challenges," he continued. "Coaching in Europe is something I'd love to do. But I also consider it a challenge finishing a new cycle and beginning the process of working on another one. From when one World Cup ends you begin the process of assessing where you are, you watch young players who you believe can move in and can become important people with national team. Those are challenges as well."
As for the job with the Cottagers that had coaches among the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson vouching for Bradley's hire, the former Princeton coach says that talks never really reached a serious stage.
"People spoke to Fulham on my behalf," he elaborated. "I never spoke to anyone at Fulham. It was simple and straightforward."
Tuesday night's match versus Brazil will be the fourth time in just over four years that the US has faced the five-time World Cup champions.
Their most recent meeting was the 2009 Confederations Cup final where Brazil overcame a 0-2 halftime to deficit to claim a 3-2 victory over the US.
For Bradley, the opportunity to face Brazil is always full of challenges but he knows his players will be up for the tall task even with such a short period of time for training.
"It is a different Brazil team but nonetheless we know when we step on the field with them, there will be things that always take place," Bradley said of the reigning Copa America champions. "They have ability with the ball, they are always an athletic team and so our sense is to how to deal with that and be good with the ball, how to create chances and understand their movements with guys like Robinho and Pato… We've gotten enough of a sense with how these players go about their business that we understand from our end what we need to do to be successful."
"I think with the group we selected is certainly still motivated to play for the US and certainly the opportunity to play against an opponent like Brazil is special for any player," he affirmed.
One player who was initially called by Bradley to feature on Tuesday was Schalke midfielder Jermaine Jones.
Jones has spent the last year recovering from a knee injury however it was thought that he could make his return to playing by debuting for the US team against the South Americans.
Unfortunately for Bradley Schalke coach Felix Magath thought otherwise and US fans will have wait a while longer before seeing the imposing Bundesliga midfielder in a US uniform.
"I think we all hope Jermaine is a player that's going to help our national team," Bradley said of Jones. "There were a number of discussions and the starting point was that he was always working his way back… That was understood. I think there was a point when it seemed to make sense to get him here even if it was a short appearance and use that as an opportunity, but as we got closer, it made sense to give it more time and it just wasn't the right moment."
One player who hopes to make his debut with the US at the New Meadowlands Stadium is defender Omar Gonzalez.
The hulking Los Angeles Galaxy man was the MLS Rookie of the Year in 2009 and was named to the 2010 MLS All-Star team.
Bradley explains that bringing in Gonzalez was a combination of the some of the existing pool of defenders being out of training plus Gonzalez fine play in MLS and the opportunity to expose him against a quality international opponent.
"The real answer is that with our central defenders there were alot of different issues with other guys," Bradley said of his back line. "Gooch has had time off and hasn't had real training yet so he's just working his way with Milan and Jay DeMerit is out of contract as he looks for a club has been out of training so as we look at people we felt it made sense to bring Omar here and help this experience move him forward."
While players from this summer's World Cup team have been showered with accolades from the public since returning, Bradley has received kind words from his peers in the coaching world including Manchester United coach Sir Alex Ferguson who lauded Bradley's coaching in South Africa.
For the former MLS head man, he is able to take a step back and appreciate the compliments he has received not only from coaches but from some of the finest players in the game.
"I think people appreciated the way the team played," concluded Bradley. "We were made to feel good by all the support. It's also been nice seeing people when they're here with teams and the amount of respect I think we now have…When you go see Barcelona or Madrid train and players like Xavi, Casillas or Ibrahimovic talk about our team and how we played. Cristiano Ronaldo made a point to come up to me and told me how well we played. It's a sign of respect and continues to motivate us to make our team better."