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What’s Next For Bob Bradley and Team USA?

The USA men’s soccer team ended their quest for a fifth Gold Cup title on Saturday night at the Rose Bowl, with a 4-2 loss to Mexico in the final. It was a tough tournament, with a lot on the line for the US men’s national team and its coach Bob Bradley. They had spent the past month under a lot of scrutiny, from their pre-tournament humiliation at the hands of Spain, to the disappointing showings against Canada and Panama. Bradley was questioned for not starting Donovan, and doubted for other tactical and strategic moves. With that being said, they fought past it all, and made it to the final where they were eventually beaten by a better Mexico team. 

 



With the Gold Cup now over, the United States won’t play another meaningful game until World Cup qualifying starts sometime next year. But what does US soccer do going forward? While the US is still one of the best teams in CONCACAF, the gap between the US and Mexico is starting to get a little bigger, and with a lot of Mexico’s starters at a young age and just hitting their prime, it might be a while before the US is the best in CONCACAF again.



The US team seems to be going through a transition period. Bob Bradley gave a lot of young players with little national team experience a lot of valuable playing time in this Gold Cup. He started Tim Ream and Juan Agudelo at the beginning of the tournament, who both previously had only a handful of caps under their belts. Eric Lichaj, who started in the final, has only 8 caps. While they all have great potential, they’re just not quite there yet on the international level. 



The future of US soccer going forward needs to be assessed. But the real question is, who are the next wave of great players that the USA has? Besides Jozy Altidore who’s very hit or miss, we still haven’t found an established striker since the days of Brian McBride. And who will be the next Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey? Granted Dempsey and Donovan will still play for the national team until the next World Cup, but after that, were going to need to find some good young players. Carlos Bocanegra and Steve Cherundolo are both 32, and they don’t have much time left either. Since we don’t have a great offense, our defense needs to be a lot better than what it showed in the Gold Cup. Are Ream, Lichaj, Goodson, etc. the future of USA soccer?

 

Also, what does it say for the future of head coach Bob Bradley. Some say that he’s done enough to stay on as coach until the next World Cup in 2014. Arguments have been made that he had to win this tournament, or else he should be fired. I’ll tell you one thing, US Soccer President Sunil Gulati didn’t look like a happy camper standing on stage as Mexico received their awards after the game Saturday night. Whether or not to keep Bradley is a decision Gulati has to take into consideration.



However, Bob Bradley didn’t blow the 2-0 lead, and while it may not be fair to blame Bradley for the loss, in the end the coach always gets the blame. After all, he is the one who decided to put in Bornstein after Cherundolo got hurt, which resulted in Mexico tearing up Bornstein’s side of the field the rest of the game. Landon Donovan even refused to back him after the game, saying “that’s not my concern,” when asked about the scrutiny of Bradley. Sunil Gulati also declined to comment on Bradley.



It’s a lot that US soccer has to think about going forward, and certainly improvements on the field and the sideline are needed. If the US is going to be a serious contender on the international level, they may need to make changes and ask themselves, is Bob Bradley the right man for the job?

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