Some are asking, what might have been. Caution trumps ambition. I couldn’t agree more with either of those reactions to Bob Bradley’s four year extension by US Soccer. On the first comment of what might have been, we saw the peak (although apparently not) of Bradley’s ability as manager. He took us to the final of the Confederations Cup, the farthest USA has advanced in any FIFA sanctioned tournament. We also won our World Cup group for the first time in history. Then we bowed out as swiftly as we entered. Bradley asked his players for everything, and received even more in return. But now it’s time for a change. It’s time to look forward to the next four years of American football and more importantly, to the next generation. A large number of players on the US squad will be well over 30 in 2014 and a complete overhaul of the system is needed.
We are no different than many countries throughout the world who are faltering as their golden generation depart. Has the US faltered in the past few years? Perhaps not, but we have surely reached the peak of expectations with the current squad and talent pool. A makeover is needed. So why not a fresh face? Why not a new guy with a vision and better understanding of the youth system in America? I have argued many times that Bradley doesn’t know his best starting XI, and it cost us dearly in the World Cup. With such lack of awareness with veterans and familiar faces at his disposal, there is no reason to believe he can mold together of group of players popping their cherry on the national stage.
Caution trumps ambition. For that we turn to US Soccer and its President, Sunil Gulati – a man with zero credentials and a terrible footballing sense. Heck he used to split his time at Columbia University where my good friend had clauses taught by him! With few legitimate candidates to choose from, Gulati balked and figured why not give Bradley another four years to continue his project. Gulati has essentially chosen the status quo, which is fine if you have no interest in evolution and improvement.
It is a frustrating day for football fans here. I have no doubt Bradley will continue to demand and receive hard work and determination from his players. But I just can’t see him getting the best ability out of them, while at the same time reconciling all the new talent and figuring out the best tactics to win games.
You never know, maybe it’s a buffer and in two years when a bigger name emerges, Gulati will pounce. Something tells me though, that we are in for another four years of the same old story.