U.S. Soccer is mum on Bob Bradley’s future
The tiresome dance involving U.S. national team Coach Bob Bradley and U.S. Soccer is getting on my nerves. Does he want to stay? Does the federation want him back? Does anyone outside of the small band of U.S. soccer fanatics really give two figs one way or another?
Bradley has been a success. So keep him. Stop messing about. Just throw some more money at him — his $600,000 salary, plus bonuses, is a pitiful amount and should at least be doubled — and let him get on with the job.
Bradley has been a failure. So get rid of him. Tell him that the upcoming U.S. friendly matches in October against Poland and Colombia will be his curtain call. Thank him and say farewell.
But do something.
On Thursday, Bradley, 52, who is under contract through the end of the year, was scheduled to meet with Sunil Gulati, the president of U.S. Soccer. No immediate announcement was expected.
That’s the way the federation operates. Nothing is revealed before a battery of lawyers has signed off on every clause on every scrap of paper. It’s why soccer news breaks overseas, not here. Over here we schedule news conferences to announce old news.
I mean, if Juergen Klinsmann is going to replace Bradley as U.S. coach, start checking Bild and Der Spiegel in Germany.
If Jose Nestor Pekerman is to be Gulati’s choice — assuming Japan has not snapped up the Argentine beforehand — it probably will be Buenos Aires that leaks the news.
And if U.S. Soccer decides to put together a coaching duo of, say, Dominic Kinnear and Jason Kreis, don’t expect the Houston Dynamo or Real Salt Lake to let you in on the secret. Major League Soccer plays by the same rules as the federation.
Meanwhile, all the dithering has led to ludicrous stories, especially on the Internet, where fact and fiction mingle freely. Just listen:
Bradley will become the first American to lead an English Premier League team by becoming Fulham’s coach. Didn’t happen. Bradley has resigned. Not true. Bradley has been fired. False. Bradley is sure to take over Aston Villa. Hasn’t happened. Bradley wants to coach in Europe. Who doesn’t?
If Gulati has made up his mind to make a change and has a serious candidate waiting in the wings, he is keeping that coach very much under wraps.
The name on most people’s lips is that of Klinsmann, who came agonizingly close to getting the U.S. post in 2006 after coaching Germany to third place in the World Cup.
Klinsmann is on vacation and is declining interviews. He could still be a viable candidate and would be an excellent choice simply because he would be unafraid to shake up the status quo.
Another high-profile foreign coach who was talked to four years ago is Pekerman, and the Argentine surely would consider the U.S. team a more interesting challenge than Japan’s Blue Samurai.
If Bradley stays, it will be for four years. There is no question of the U.S. not qualifying for the Brazil 2014 World Cup from the woefully weak North and Central American and Caribbean (CONCACAF) region, so Bradley is virtually guaranteed a second appearance on soccer’s biggest stage.
That will make sticking around a bit more tempting for him. No other job he might conceivably be offered could include that sort of prize at the end.
The problem is, Bradley might want a new challenge, and who could blame him? The federation can throw money in his direction, but it can’t provide what he really needs: Better players.
So the idea of trying his luck in Europe might be more attractive to Bradley than looking ahead and wondering which of an indifferent crop of players to throw against, say, Honduras or El Salvador the next time World Cup qualifying rolls around.
If Landon Donovan is any barometer, the U.S. national team players think that Bradley will not be sticking around.
“My gut says probably no,” Donovan this week told former Galaxy teammate Kyle Martino, now host of Soccer Talk Live on the Fox Soccer Channel.
“I think we all as players would be happy if he stays around, but that’s just what my gut tells me. It’s hard to know.”
And becoming harder still to care.