Egypt Coach Bob Bradley Addresses the Port Said Disaster

Former U.S. coach Bob Bradley was fortunately not at the Port Said stadium where a stampede/riot claimed the lives of 74 people during a match between Al Ahly and Al Masry yesterday. He was attending another match, scouting players in his current role as head of Egypt’s national team.

Here is an interview with him on the day after the tragedy, courtesy of his brother Jeff, who posted it to Twitter:

That’s pretty impressive. And as he said in the interview, he marched at the Sphinx with the Egyptian people today. However his quest to qualify Egypt for Brazil 2014 goes, Bradley will leave with that country’s respect.

Advertisements

Klinsmann Makes About Four Times More than Bradley Did as U.S. Coach

Washington Post soccer reporter Steven Goff took a look at the USSF’s audited financial statements and announced this morning that new USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann earns $2.5 million in base salary, or roughly four times more than his predecessor, Bob Bradley, was paid for his efforts in the same job.

Bradley’s base salary from 2009 to 2010 was $450,000, but he had a series of bonuses built into his contract, which he earned, pushing his total haul to $800,000 that year.

Goff assumes that Bradley’s salary was bumped up to the $500k-$600k range the following year. (He also suggests Bradley, who was dismissed during the first year of a new, four-year pact, will continue to be paid by the USSF through August 2012, even though he’s now the head coach of Egypt’s national team.)

Since Bradley got his team to the knockout phase at South Africa 2010, if Klinsmann wants to earn his higher salary, he’ll have to get the US to … let’s see … 1X=quarterfinals, 2X=semifinals, 3X=World Cup Final, 4X= ….

Yep, Klinsmann’s team will have to win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil to justify his exorbitant pay.

There you have it. Get cracking Jurgen.

Looking Back at the Bradley Era

We are probably going to learn the name of Bob Bradley’s successor today, but before we welcome Jürgen Klinsmann (we’d take it, and it seems most likely) or Marcelo Lippi  (could be very interesting) or Guus Hiddink  (yes!) or Sigi Schmid (fine) or Peter Nowak (we’d also take it) or Rafael Benitez (no!), let’s take a quick look back at Bradley’s nearly five years in charge.

Record: 43-25-12. That’s a 53.75 winning percentage, second-best all-time behind Bruce Arena’s 65.8. (And Bradley was 62.9 through 2010; a 4-4-2 2011 brought his mark down.)

Highs:

• Reaching the 2009 Confederations Cup final with a crucial three-goal win over Egypt in group play and a shocking 2-0 upset of Spain in the semifinals.

• Winning Group C at the 2010 World Cup, becoming first coach ever to lead a U.S. team to a WC group title in the modern era.

• Winning CONCACAF region in qualifying for the 2010 World Cup; defeating Mexico in 2007 Gold Cup final

Lows:

• Giving Ricardo Clark a surprise start in the Round of 16 game against Ghana at the 2010 World Cup, only to see Clark make a bad early turnover that led directly to a goal. Failing to win that game and take advantage of a historically favorable knockout-round draw at SA 2010.

• Teams fell into maddening habit of giving away early goals. Did so against England, Slovenia, and Ghana at South Africa 2010, and nearly did against Algeria, which hit the bar in the first five minutes of final group-play game against the U.S.

• Gold Cup 2011: Loss to Panama in group play and surrender of 2-0 lead against Mexico in final to lose 4-2. This was the last straw.

Thumbnail Assessment:

Bradley took more flak than any USMNT coach in history, partly because there was simply more attention paid to this team than any other, due to the growth of the sport, and partly because … well, haters gonna hate, we guess.

Most of it was unwarranted, in our view. Bradley may have been a little stiff with the press, and slightly conservative with his tactics, but he did pretty well with the talent he had to work with and he achieved some historic results (see highs, above).

The notion that he was too narrow in player selection holds no water, as we’ve argued before (he tried out 92 players in his first four-year cycle), and the charge that nepotism, not ability, kept Bradley’s son Michael in the starting lineup is equally inaccurate.

The younger Bradley has more European top-flight experience than the majority of players in the U.S. pool, and he was remarkably consistent for the Yanks—not to mention one of their best players at South Africa 2010.

As his record suggests, Bob Bradley was the second-best coach in USMNT history, and his players always fought for him.

Here are a few of them, reacting to the news on Twitter:

Stuart Holden: Morning! Want 2 thank Bob Bradley 4 everything he did the last 5 years & 4 giving me an opportunity w national team! Wish him the best!

Jozy Altidore: Yes i heard the news tweet fam and I Wish Bob Bradley nothing but the best in the future. #esoesfutbol

Charlie Davies: Wishing Bob Bradley the best of luck. He helped me become a better player and person.

Aaaaannnd, a counterpoint:

Brian Ching: Some days just put a smile on your face.

[Ouch.]

What ever Bradley’s faults and successes, we felt like now was a good time for a change. Staleness had set in, and the next coach will have plenty of time to make an impact before World Cup qualifying begins next fall.

As for who that coach will be, well, Alexi Lalas tweeted the following this morning:

Good morning. Think I’ll spend today looking for an umlaut key on my computer and phone.

The Other Shoe Drops: Bradley Fired As U.S. Coach

When last we heard from him on the subject, back in early July after the Gold Cup final, U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati said a statement regarding USMNT coah Bob Bradley’s future would be forthcoming that week.

Then Gulati fell silent, and the topic receded to the background.

Today, it’s back, front and center, as Gulati and the USSF released a statement saying that Bradley has been “relieved of his duties” as national team coach. Here’s some more from the official release:

“We want to thank Bob Bradley for his service and dedication to U.S. Soccer during the past five years. During his time as the head coach of our Men’s National Team he led the team to a number of accomplishments, but we felt now was the right time for us to make a change. It is always hard to make these decisions, especially when it involves someone we respect as much as Bob. We wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

There is certain to be much more to follow on this, including another announcement from the federation tomorrow.

Quote of the Day

Nurnberg defender-midfielder Timothy Chandler, speaking to Yanks Abroad about speculation that his absence at the Gold Cup meant that he still had a desire to play for Germany:

“No. That is absolutely not the reason why I missed the Gold Cup. It is my goal and dream to represent the United States at the 2014 World Cup. What I said in March is true. I will absolutely not play for Germany. There is no way that will happen.”

This is obviously music to the ears of U.S. fans, who had to be impressed by Chandler’s showing for the Yanks in two friendlies back in March. The 21-year-old cited fatigue and a lack of full fitness as reasons for skipping the CONCACAF tournament, a move he also said was made at the behest of his club team.

He told YA that he hopes to be called in for the Americans’ next international, a friendly against Belgium on Sept 6. “If I am invited, I would love to play for the United States again,” he said. “I have a very good opinion of Bob Bradley as a coach. He brought me in back in March and I like playing under him along with the players on the U.S. team.”

Again, this is great news for U.S. fans—even if Bradley’s status as coach appeared uncertain following the U.S. loss to Mexico in the Gold Cup final. Federation president Sunil Gulati told The New York Times last Tuesday that he’d “have something to say later this week” regarding the coach’s future, but he has yet to make a statement.

Adu (That’s Right, Adu), Donovan, and Dempsey Link Up to Power U.S. into Gold Cup Final

The U.S. advanced to the final of the 2011 Gold Cup last night, edging Panama 1-0 in a scrappy semifinal in Houston’s Reliant Stadium. The Yanks will take on Mexico—2-0 extra-time winners over Honduras in the other semifinal—in the final in the Rose Bowl on Saturday night (9:00 ET, Fox Soccer Channel).

The big pregame talking point was the benching of the team’s alltime leader in goals and assists, Landon Donovan. The postgame talking points also involved Donovan—who came on after halftime—and amazingly, Freddy Adu, the onetime prodigy who signed a pro contract with D.C. United at the age of 14 and hadn’t played for the Nats since 2009.

Adu entered the game in the 66th minute and 10 minutes later, he sprung Donovan on the right wing with a perfectly lofted (and weighted) pass from the center of the pitch. Donovan then found Clint Dempsey at the far post with a pinpoint diagonal ball for the matchwinner.

Highlights at bottom, but first, a clip of Dempsey channeling how great U.S. fans and players felt to see Adu back contributing to the USMNT after years of wandering in the wilderness of hype and too-much-too-soon.

Deuce videobombed Adu’s postgame interview with Fox Soccer:

The only thing missing was the pie to the face.

Match highlights here:

Apparently, the benching did not hurt LD’s game, and, given his substandard Gold Cup performances so far, may have helped.

And Adu played well overall, beyond his role in the decisive goal. A few minutes after Dempsey’s strike, Adu made a great run away from three defenders on the right flank, beat a fourth with a stepover move, and cut the ball back for Michael Bradley in the box.

Bradley chose to pass instead of shoot (and his pass went awry) but that could have been a second goal for the U.S.

Finally, coach Bob Bradley is headed down the road to vindication—yet again. He’s got his team to the Gold Cup final, where they were expected to be, and he made some gutsy calls along the way: benching Donovan and starting Kljestan and Bedoya versus Jamaica; holding LD out again last night, and rolling the dice on Adu.

Imagine if Adu had underperformed and the U.S. had lost—there would have been a tsunami of backlash, maybe enough to sweep Bradley out of his job.

As it happened, though, Adu did just the opposite, the U.S. won, and Bradley looked like a coach well in tune with his players’ form—and psyches.

Now, if he can get them to beat the in-form Chicharito and Mexico, in what will essentially be an away game at the Rose Bowl, his critics will have to clam up—once again.

Early-Evening Roundup: Donovan Benched Again, Uzbeks Drop U.S. U-17s

We’re about to bust out to watch the U.S. take on Panama in their Gold Cup semifinal, but we just checked the Twitter feed and found this bombshell: Landon Donovan will start tonight’s crucial game on the bench.

This is obviously huge, and it suggests that his previous benching, against Jamaica in the quarterfinals, may have had more to it than the fact that LD flew in from his sister’s wedding in California the night before.

Here’s the starting XI:

Tim Howard

Steve Cherundolo, Clarence Goodson, Carlos Bocanegra, Eric Lichaj

Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones; Alejandro Bedoya, Sacha Kljestan, Clint Dempsey

Juan Agudelo

It’s probably safe to say that most (all) observers assumed that either Kljestan or Bedoya would be dropped in favor of Donovan, but that has not happened.

How will the team respond? How will Donovan respond if and when he comes in as a sub?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments, and enjoy the game.

In other U.S. news, the U-17 American team was upended 2-1 by Uzbekistan this afternoon at the youth World Cup in Mexico.

It’s a surprising result, to say the least, since the U.S. was coming off a convincing 3-0 win over the Czech Republic while the Uzbeks were drubbed 4-1 by New Zealand in their opener.

The young Nats will need a result, and maybe a win, against the Kiwis in their final group stage game. New Zealand and the Czech Republic kick off their second group-stage game at 7:00.