After half a decade as U.S. Men's National Team Bob Bradley is out! After coaching his gang of Patriots to the round of 16 in last years World Cup and the Gold Cup final, he has been rewarded with a pat on the back and cold shower, by American soccer officials. Opinions on Bradley's tenure seem to be about 50-50, split between him being an inept, one-dimensional coach, and the best option in bad system. I side with the latter. The player's at his disposal-in terms of U.S. teams of the past- are decent. With this said the squad has notable holes where the talent is non existent, most striking is the lack of forwards in the U.S. set-up. I often thought Bradley received to much criticism for working with what he had, and is used as the scapegoat for are faults as a soccer nation. Are these critics' expectations too high, or are they justified? We're not going to win the World Cup, so winning our group in South Africa was a tremendous feat, even if our strongest opponents were a mediocre England Team.
Bradley was seen as a coach who always' played it safe. Stubborn in his plight to play 4-4-2, even when the game called for a more attacking formation, he often failed to change tactic's. Selecting players who where out of form, and seemingly hesitant to inject new faces into the set-up, It could be said that Bradley had the motto, " if it ain't broke don't fix it," motto tattooed on his chest. The system isn't broke, but needs an oil change every now and again. This stance could be down to the extreme pressure he was under. Pressure is a given for all national team managers, and Bradley had his fair share as as the USMNT coach. This may not be blatantly apparent due to our countries' seemingly disinterested stance on soccer, but I would argue that he has more than most. The only time this nation comes together in the sense of soccer is during the World Cup, seen in video clips of bars across the nation exploding in fanfare when Donovan scored the stoppage time goal against Algeria. Even for the casual fan who supports the USMNT only during the World Cup, expectations are high, because we are American and we expect success. Taking a gamble was not in his nature for many possible reasons, but as a fan I felt that a stale team was often selected, lacking youth, invention and ingenuity.
With the 2014 World Cup some years away, US Soccer President Sunil Gulati, has chosen this opportune monument to make a change in management, implementing Jurgen Klinsmann as the USMNT head coach. The German, who lives in Los Angeles has a mixed record as a player and manger, coaching Germany to the Semi's in the 2006 World Cup, but failing to make any sort of impact at Bayern Munich. With Bradley out, the pleas were split once again 50-50, for the installment of a European coach Vs. a domestic one. Klinsmann is what you would call a hybrid. Has European pedigree, blended with knowledge of American soccer and culture. Although I am slightly saddened to see Bradley go, I am not opposed to see what Klinsmann can do with the team.
To help the lad out , I outlined a few guide-lines to insure maximum success:
1.) Give younger/ new players' more of a chance in the first team: Eric Lichaj, Timothy Chandler, Brek Shea, Justin Braun. Often times Bradley was too set-on his player's "Jozy Altidore," when they weren't necessarily fit or on form. Take some gambles Jurgen, it's pays off sometimes.
2.) Play Justin Braun. Refer to piece I wrote about him my blog; Is a good talent who's of age, strong and could be an answer to the striker predicament. Altidore is no longer the answer, maybe he will be in the future, but he should not start until he gets so games at new club AZ Alkmaar.
3.) Michael Bradley has to play farther up the field. Klinsmann needs to push Bradley's son higher up the pitch. Michael has been very much a holding midfielder, but has looked brilliant when he gallops forward. With the introduction of Jermaine Jones to the defensive midfield role, there is lessor a need for Michael to be the second man in the hole; which leads to my next point.
4.) Think beyond 4-4-2. Oddly enough in Bradley's last game against Mexico in the Gold Cup Final, he was able to change to a more attacking style. We needed to see this more during his tenure, and the fact that we didn't paints him as a one dimensional tactician. Klinsmann should learn from this and think of playing a 4-1-3-2.
5.) Freddy Adu gets the benefit of the doubt and plays. After one-time American Soccer golden boy has fallen by the way side, a resurgence of form has seen him enter the frame again. In Bradley's last 2 game's as coach- ironically enough, shuffled the pack a bit and brought on Freddy Adu, playing him as a #10. He looked good in flashes, still very capable of beating 1 or 2 players, though looking slightly out of touch. This promising re-entry should see this still youthful star get more call-ups.
6.) Jonathan Bornstein never walks onto a pitch wearing a U.S. jersey again. Simple as that.
7.) Work with Claudio Renya on the youth level. KilnsmannBayern Munich- but this should be welcomed by the US. Development is key, and what we need to develop is an U.S. soccer Identity, emphasize youth development, and bring new faces into the first team.
If Klinsmann follows these 7 golden rules (Demands) he should be fantastich. What Klinsmann brings to the USMNT is International recognition, but does that matter? Apparently to American soccer fans. They have been yearning for a big name coach to come in and take the helm as USMNT coach. But does America need an American coach? I think Sunil Gulati was wondering this himself, that's why Klinsmann has been selected, a coach who may not be the best, but works for our current state of affairs, and tick's both boxes. I'm not necessarily happy with the selection, but I am excited for the change.