Thursday, May 17, 2007

U.S. National Soccer Team Now Has Permanent Coach

It's official. The "interim" tag has been removed from Bob Bradley's title. I'm of two minds about this development. As regular readers perhaps remember, I've was quite critical of his initial appointment late last year. I thought then, and part of me still thinks now, that such a move is a move backward for the U.S. Men's Soccer program. I think the U.S. team has gone about as far as it can go with the status quo.

At the time, I thought Jurgen Klinsman was the answer. And while he proved his tactical acumen at the last world cup, I still had lingering doubts about his organizational nous. Alas, we'll never find out how well he will have done. My second choice was Jose Pekermann. He had proven his developmental and organizational ability in Argentina, and the renaissance of their national side since the debacle in 2002 spoke well of those abilities. I still think someone of his abilities will be required for the U.S. team to made strides toward consistency on the world's biggest stage.

Deals with at least one of these candidates failed spectacularly over issues of control. As for the other, I don't even know if he was interviewed. So we found ourselves stuck in a bad situation, with a temporary coach and no way forward.

All that said, Coach Bradley has done the most that he could with such a situation. I've liked how he's brought in new players. These players will be absolutely essential if the U.S. is to have any success in 2010. My big knock on Area was that he was content to select his team based on past performances rather than current form. I'm especially excited to see future performances from players such as Bornstein, Feilheiber, Demerit, and Bradley (natch). So as we approach Copa America and the Gold Cup, I hope Coach Bradley can stick to his guns, and give us all a squad that has more of the spirit of Clint Dempsey than that of Landon Donovan (though I must say he's looked good in the last few friendlies).

In any case, the U.S. Soccer Federation has now made the bed, and Mr. Bradley and all of the fans now have to lay in it. Now to show well in Copa America.

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