Thursday, May 17, 2007

Why Bob Bradley is The Right Guy for Job

The removal of the interim tag from Bob Bradley's title as Head Coach of the US Men's National Team has stimulated vigorous debate, from those who ask what the heck took so long to those questioning the wisdom of hiring yet another American coach. But there are two good reasons for making Bob Bradley The Man: 1) He understands the unique circumstances of American players and 2) He genuinely, intensely, passionately wanted the gig.

Bradley Knows American Players:

American soccer players must overcome obstacles simply not found in Germany, Argentina, France, Portugal or Sweden (to name a few totally random nations), including Little League, Pop Warner, AAU hoops, a totally hostile print media, an indifferent to curious-at-best broadcast media, a Corporate Culture largely invested in rival domestic professional sports and their stadia and an Amateur-to-NCAA-to-Pro structure totally alien to world soccer.

Bob Bradley grew up in this environment and helped grow the sport of soccer -- both collegiately and professionally -- despite these obstacles (unlike Jurgen Klinsmann, Jose Pekerman, Gerard Houllier, Carlos Queiroz or Sven-Goran Ericcson to name a few totally random coaches). Bradley can relate to Jay DeMerit's journey. Can Klinsmann? Bradley can commiserate with the struggles of DaMarcus Beasley. Can Queiroz? Houllier? This shared experience in surmounting these challenges should not be dismissed lightly.

Bradley Wants the Gig:

Memo to US Soccer: You wore your best little black dress, took them to dinner, paid for their lobster (YouTube), but at the end of the night, Klinsmann, Pekerman, Houllier, Queiroz and Ericcson et al were just not that into you. We know it hurts, but it was Bradley who loved you all along, and you should thank your lucky stars that he looked the other way while you shamelessly courted the Foreign Legion.

Despite your indiscretions, Bradley will do everything he can to guide you through the peaks and valleys on the path to South Africa 2010. And he won't abandon you along the way, which does tend to happen when foreign coaches start feeling the heat en route to the World Cup Finals. Bradley's aim is true (YouTube). Dalliances aside, you made the right call.

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