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Bob Bradlee’s Sunday Prayer

I wish that I were writing an apology to the U.S. team right now. Sorry- and I-was-so-wrong-for-doubting the ‘B/C’ squad. But let’s face it: we all knew the end result. People were optimistic that it would be close, but any objective observer knew how it would end.

The Mexican fans’ cheers for the U.S. over Honduras were as clear a sign as any that Mexico needed to beat the U.S., in a tournament, and on U.S. soil. What better way to announce that things were different under Aguirre? To restore sagging confidence in a national squad?

The U.S. tried early to win, but quickly fell into Bradlee’s favorite “bucket” where they just sat back and watched their opponent.  (Note:  we’re going with the Alan Smithee-esque spelling until Bob earns his ‘y’ back).  I’d call it old habit, but these are new players.  So let’s call it coaching.  Though is it really coaching?  Can you imagine Bob Bradlee’s speech at the half?  Here’s how I see it going:

Gentlemen.  I told you that I believed in you and you repaid that faith.  Although we didn’t have a shot on goal, we’re outshooting a good Mexican squad 5-1.  After some shakiness early, you guys fought back and took over the match.  Now, here’s my plan:  let’s play hard for 10 minutes and then . . . wait for it . . . we’re going to sit back into a bucket and see how Mexico reacts.  Got that?  They haven’t shown the ability to get shots off yet.  I figure by the 53rd minute we’ll be up 7-1 on shots.  So let’s quit taking shots and see what happens.  Seriously.  No shots after the 53rd minute.  Let’s just see what Mexico does.  Alright men, now let’s go out there and not lose a championship!!!

I’m not saying that Bob Bradlee should be fired.    But U.S. Soccer needs to make it clear to Bob that championships are important.  And that beating Mexico is important.  U.S. fans can take losses to Costa Rica but we ask that we not lose to Mexico.

Bradlee doesn’t seem to understand either.  He had a choice between a realistic shot of winning (by bringing in regulars) or a prayer.  And, being Sunday, he went with a prayer.  And why?  Because Bob Bradlee didn’t want to suggest that he felt insecure about his roster? Because he wanted guys who may never play important matches with the MNT’s A squad to get more experience?

And I know that some are going to blame U.S. fans for permitting the Final to be effectively a home match for Mexico.  And maybe I’m to blame:  I live within 2 hours of East Rutherford and could’ve attended.  I even looked into tickets.  But it seemed to me that the U.S. was not taking the match as seriously as Mexico was.  And I had no interest in watching a motivated Mexican squad beat an apathetic U.S. (the players on the field weren’t apathetic, but the organization was.)

We watched our team make the Confederations Cup Final in South Africa and excitement about U.S. soccer was high. Instead of giving us a chance to see our heroes home and playing once again in a Final, Bob brings in a squad that generated minimal excitement among U.S. fans.  So what could have been a homecoming tour to build upon our success in South Africa, became a who’s who of players on the cusp.

I know the ultimate goal is the World Cup.  And that our guys need face time with their clubs to be in the best shape for the World Cup.  But remember that World Cup seeding is decided well before the tournament (December).  And if you’re FIFA, would you seed the U.S. as one of the top 7 teams (the host gets the 8th seed.)  Maybe the U.S. doesn’t get it anyway, but we’re ranked 12th.  And we’re only 108 points out of the top 7.  I’m not saying that we make it, but we at least have a resume to show FIFA.  Instead, we’ve got a history of giving up important matches in the second half.  That’ll impress FIFA.

In short, the U.S. has given away what will probably be its greatest mental advantage ever against its top rival.  Given away an 11-match unbeaten at home streak that any soccer club would cherish.  Maybe the U.S. would’ve lost with its seven ‘men’ but at least we would have fought for our advantage.  Instead, Bradlee has tossed it aside like a petulant child who receives a toy they didn’t want.

Can you name any other sports team that did not name the best players on its roster for a championship game against its archrival?  Any other sports team that had a dominant home-winning streak that it entrusted to a B/C squad in a match against a quality opponent?  In my mind, U.S. Soccer’s apathy toward a championship is unprecedented.  And a serious slap in the face to U.S. fans.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. jr
    July 27, 2009 at 10:17 am

    I agree, once again our big ben (BB)delivers green eggs and ham. It might have been Mexico’s B team but it was our F team that took the prize. What is the point of going to a tournament if you bring totally unprepared players – The expectations for A, B or C squad is that they can compete, regardless of what level the other side may be, if your team does not compete at that level then all you build is anger and disappointment with your fans – BB has certainly perfected that side of the game. It’s embarrassing and I don’t put the responsibility on the players (who should be embarrassed) but that belongs on one man – Technical Director –

    • Michael
      July 27, 2009 at 4:00 pm

      At the very least, Bradlee should have committed to it being a development tournament and played guys who could feasibly play a role in World Cups to come. Instead, we’re giving significant minutes to Brian Ching who apparently has his starting job set for his career. And Heaps? What possible good does it do the MNT short or long term to start Heaps?

      Ultimately, if Bradlee wants to send a U-23 team out there, that’s fine. But he didn’t. And when you know Mexico’s your finals opponent, you don’t roll over and hope they don’t beat you up too badly. Either go down swinging or just forfeit the match and save everyone the time and energy.

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