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Don’t do me like that

This will be one of the few times you ever see me write about soccer.  It’s not my game.   Other than the World Cup, it does not spark my interest.  I do however feel the need to comment on the contract extension of USA head coach Bob Bradley, and the circumstances surrounding it.  The man has done an amazing job and he deserves the chance to continue to build on his work.

The USA has rehired the right man for the job, despite all their attempts to replace him.  It’s absurd to think USA Soccer thought they could do better, and it’s appalling how they treated this man after he accomplished such an improbable feat this Summer.  Perhaps I’m sympathetic of coaches because of my background as a head coach, but this really gets my blood boiling.  The man has taken USA soccer to a place it never dreamed it could go, but his bosses are reluctant to say, “thank you,” “well done,” “great job!”  Soccer has never and will never be a relevant sport in our nation, and yet we were there for every minute this summer as Bradley and his boys kept motoring on through the World Cup.  He has worked hard to keep his team playing together, playing well, and playing at a level we’ve never seen before.  He has been professional throughout and he hasn’t done anything to disgrace himself, his family, his team, or USA Soccer (notice how I haven’t even mentioned he’s the first coach who’s USA team won a World Cup Group).

The USA’s performance in the World Cup should have warranted an immediate contract extension and possibly Joe Paterno-like tenure (ok the Paterno comparison is going too far but you get the point) and it did not call for him to be left in limbo as USA Soccer interviews other coaches for his job while he was under contract.   Now that I think about it, Bradley probably should have just taken a buyout and rode off into the sunset as USA Soccer’s most successful coach of All-Time.  In four years, we would’ve been begging for his presence as we watch USA Soccer come crashing back down to Earth as another coach tries to recreate the magic experienced in 2010.  Although, I guess that would’ve been the easy thing to do, and then again a real coach never gives up on his team and he continually reminds us why he is qualified to be a leader of men.  That is why he accepted the extension despite all the drama, and that is why he is the right man for the job.

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About Patrick C. Duffy

Patrick Duffy is a Communications/Journalism student at the University of Maryland, University College. I also teach sixth grade English, high school Journalism, and Physical Education. Additionally, I’m the school’s Athletic Director and Head Baseball Coach. My work is featured on the Maryland page of Bleacher Report, and has been redistributed by the University of Maryland football and baseball teams.

Discussion

4 thoughts on “Don’t do me like that

  1. Bradley took us to new heights, there is no doubt about that. It was quite ironic that we could be so critical of the man after we won our group for the first time even.

    However, I am a confessed member of the anti-Bradley camp, because I think with better coaching this year, we could have made the semis. Because of our first-place finish, we got to avoid Germany in the playoffs, who went on to thrash the second-place Brits. Instead, we were matched with Ghana, and if we had beaten them, we’d have gotten to face Uruguay in the quarters, a good side but certainly not unbeatable.

    But our problem against Ghana in the Round of 16 was the same one that caused us to go down 2-0 to Slovenia in the group phase before Donovan led that historic comeback that should have ended in victory if not for the incompetent ref: Our defensive marking was just plain horrendous.

    Don’t get me wrong, the US is now an attacking side, which is fantastic. Gone are the days when we would park the bus, defending with 10 guys and playing for a scoreless draw. The new US is the one that attacked fearlessly against Spain and won, and then scored two goals against Brazil before eventually losing 3-2. The point is that we don’t rock back on our heels anymore and stand gaping at our opponents’ virtuosity. Instead, we take it to them and make them respect us. Bradley deserves a lot of credit for this fact, but to be fair, it must be shared with Bruce Arena, who was the first coach that really got us to stop playing like mice.

    But the downside to Bradley-ball is that for all our newfound strength going forward, our back line looks like swiss cheese. The goals that were scored against us were ALL on the counter-attack, with our defenders falling asleep watching our midfielders and strikers do their job up front. As soon as the other team managed to clear the ball, opposing attackers wiggled free deep in our territory and buried shots past our keeper before our back four had time to react.

    A good coach in these situations pushes the back line up in order to set and offsides trap. Doing this successfully requires discipline, impeccable timing, and endless drilling on the training grounds. Over the next four years, Bradley will need to focus on this and try to instill in our defense the same tactical precision that the Europeans seem to have mastered to the point that they are the only teams outside of Brazil that can consistently get to the finals.

    -mf

    Posted by Michael Ford | August 31, 2010, 1:17 AM
  2. Thanks Mike, great insight. I do think it is a greedy thought to consider we could’ve made the semis on the simple fact that we lost to Ghana because were just dog tired. Playing so soon after their final game of group play was a major factor. You could see the USA’s lack of World Cup experience as they couldn’t make the adjustment from 5 days rest to 2 days rest.

    That aside, I think you set a scary precedent by calling for someone’s job when he’s clearly done something no one has ever done. I have to think USA’s reluctance to show Bradley any love after the WC played a part in their failed pursuit to replace Bradley.

    Thanks for the comment, and keep reading. As Ryan from the Office told Jim once, “I always appreciate constructive criticism. I thrive on it.”

    Posted by Patrick Duffy | August 31, 2010, 1:39 AM
  3. Yea that’s a good point actually. I hadn’t thought about it, but US Soccer does have to be a bit careful to avoid getting the Steinbrenner syndrome, firing coaches even when they do a decent job.

    That’s what happened to Mexico, who have gone through four managers since the last WC. They, like us, had a manager that took them to new heights, only to fire him four years ago when they lost to Argentina in extra time. The result was a guy who, this time around, got them to the knockout rounds, where they lost to Argentina again, this time by 3-1!

    So yes, perhaps some continuity is in order here. I’d rather see us become the Pittsburgh Steelers of soccer, sticking with a guy who sometimes disappoints, but wins us the occasional ring, than the Washington Redskins, going with the flavor of the week, and firing them as soon as they don’t match our unrealistic expectations.

    So perhaps we were right to give Bradley four more years …. now it’s a matter of waiting to see if it pays off!

    mf

    Posted by Michael Ford | September 1, 2010, 11:16 AM
  4. I sort of disagree with Pat. Team USA was one stoppage time goal away from not advancing and could have won the Ghana game in round 16. I like Bradley and would have retained him, however, I disagree that it was the slam dunk Pat says it was. Soccer coaches turn over much more than in other sports, particularly at the international level.

    Posted by Brian Carroccio | September 20, 2010, 7:58 PM

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