NOTE: If you are reading this after the announcement that Jürgen Klinsmann has been hired, then obviously most of the post is moot. But the video of Klinsmann below is still important, so check it out.
The United States Soccer Federation has fired men's national team head coach Bob Bradley.
The press release is below, and is about as straightforward as it gets:
U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati announced today that Bob Bradley has been relieved of his duties as the head coach of the U.S. Men’s National Team.
“We want to thank Bob Bradley for his service and dedication to U.S. Soccer during the past five years,” said Gulati. “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.”
This announcement comes after a meeting at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., between Gulati, Bradley and U.S. Soccer CEO Dan Flynn.
Bradley was named the head coach of the U.S. MNT in January of 2007 and during his five-year tenure compiled a 43-25-12 record. He led the team to a number of accomplishments, including winning the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup, finishing second in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, winning their World Cup qualifying group and advancing to the Round of 16 of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
U.S. Soccer will have a further announcement on Friday.
Bradley told the Washington Post's Steven Goff: "It has been an incredible honor to serve as head coach. I am proud of everything we've accomplished."
It just so happens that the U.S.' next game is here in Philadelphia, on August 10 against Mexico at Lincoln Financial Field.
Who do you think should succeed Bradley? Do you think that person will be hired in time for the U.S.-Mexico game? The announcement does say that a "further announcement" will be made tomorrow.
The leading candidate to replace Bradley is probably former Germany national team coach Jürgen Klinsmann. Ives Galarcep of FoxSoccer.com tweeted that he is "hearing that Klinsmann's the guy."
Klinsmann has lived in California for some time now, and has been linked with the U.S. Soccer Federation a number of times in recent years.
Klinsmann would want a lot of power and influence with regards to player development, not just coaching. While working as a studio analyst for ESPN at last year's World Cup, has had some not-so-nice things to say about how the U.S. develops and trains its players:
You need to know how to actually develop players. It's very difficult within the American culture to talk about that, because you are the only country in the world that has the pyramid upside down.
You pay to have your kid play soccer, because your goal is not that your kid becomes a professional soccer player - your goal is that the kid gets a scholarship in high school or college. That is completely opposite from the rest of the world.
Andres Cantor, the veteran TV announcer for Telemundo (and formerly Univision), tweeted that he is hearing a "strong rumor about Marcello Lippi becoming U.S. head coach."
Lippi coached Italy's national team to the championship at the 2006 World Cup, but also oversaw their disastrous exit at the group stage in 2010.
Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated reports (from Palestine, of all places, where he is working on a story for the magazine), that U.S. Soccer "will not provide media access to [Sunil] Gulati or potential new coach until next week."
Wahl later tweeted this: "US Soccer insider: 'You're not going to be surprised' by identity of new coach"
If not Klinsmann or Lippi, then who? One potential candidate is Union manager Peter Nowak, who coached the U.S. Olympic team in 2008.
But Nowak appears to not be interested in the job. He sent a text message to Kerith Gabriel of the Daily News which simply said: "Sorry, got better things to do."
Would Nowak's management style suit the U.S. veterans who play in Europe? Probably not. But he can coach, and he can develop players. Those skills are pretty important, I'd say.
It was pointed out in the comments that Union assistant coach John Hackworth also has experience coaching U.S. youth national teams - specifically the under-17 team from 2004 to 2007. That included the 2005 and 2007 FIFA Under-17 World Championships.
I can't see Hackworth getting the call over Nowak, though I can see him being impacted if Nowak does get the nod - either leaving the Union with Nowak, or replacing Nowak as the Union's head coach.
I can also see Hackworth leaving to become an assistant coach no matter who gets the job, though that's just speculation on my part.
Hackworth has a very strong reputation when it comes to developing young American talent. The 2005 squad included Jozy Altidore, Omar Gonzalez, Kyle Nakazawa and the Farfan brothers; and the 2007 squad included Zac MacMath, Sheanon Williams, Brek Shea and Kofie Sarkodie.
Another name that is likely off the board is Seattle Sounders coach Sigi Schmid. He is one of the most successful managers in MLS history (yes, really), and has been put forward as a potential candidate by some.
Schmid told the Seattle Times' Joshua Mayers the following when asked if he is interested in the position:
That's something that I really don't need to answer because nobody's talked to me. I think any coach in this country, especially someone who's coached in America for a long time, would have an interest in coaching the national team.
I think that's going to be a 'yes' answer from any American coach that you ask, but at the end of the day is it the right thing? Is it the right time? Where are you coming from? Where are you at? All that affects that ultimate decision. What I can tell you is I'm very happy where I'm at. I love the Sounders, I love Seattle and I really like our team.
Here are some other candidates for the job that I can think of:
- Former Argentina and Chile national team coach Marcelo Bielsa, who is currently with Spanish club Athletic Bilbao but has been linked with the U.S. Soccer Federation a few times in recent years
- Real Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis, whose team plays an attractive style of soccer and made the CONCACAF Champions League final last season.
- Current U.S. national team youth technical director Claudio Reyna.
- Current U.S. national team assistant coach Mike Sorber, who has been Bob Bradley's top deputy since 2007.
- New York Red Bulls coach Hans Backe, who has done well making New York into a creative team even though their goalkeeping stinks.
- Los Angeles Galaxy coach Bruce Arena, who coached the U.S. from 1999 to 2006. Yes, it's possible he could come back. The Galaxy have been among the best teams in MLS almost every year that Arena has been there.
Kreis and Arena have to be considered the leading American-born candidates, with Sorber third. Klinsmann appears to be the overall favorite right now.
Also on the soccer scene today: If the Independence make the playoffs, and they almost surely will, their playoff game will be at PPL Park.
This was first reported by Steven Goff here. I have since been told by one source that it is a done deal, and by another source that nothing is final yet, but the clubs are talking about it.
I think we can make a safe assumption that it will happen. The only big factor left is the date of the game, of course, and we won't know that for a few more weeks.
The Independence's playoff game would be Tuesday, August 17 or Wednesday, August 18 if they finish in third place; Saturday, August 20 if they finish second; and Saturday, August 27 if they finish first.
The Union do not have home games on any of those dates.
If the Independence finish in first place - and that's where they are right now - their home playoff game would be the WPS championship game. That would be a pretty neat thing to have in our region.
There will also be a ceremony honoring the Independence's three U.S. World Cup team players before tomorrow night's Union-Rapids game at PPL Park.
Both of those items are good signs about the health of the club. But we can talk about that more later.