Bob Bradley has completed a full cycle as head coach of the US Men’s National Team. By most any metric or standard, he has achieved great success and advanced the program. Here is a partial list of his achievements in the last four years:
- He has a higher winning percentage than any coach in US Men’s National Team history: .644 (38-19-9)
- He won the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup
- He took the US Men to their first FIFA final at the 2009 Confederations Cup
- He won the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying Hexagonal
- He won the 2010 World Cup Group C
- He brought more players into camp in one World Cup cycle than any other coach in US history
- He scheduled more games against European nations than any other US coach
- He helped with the development and maturation of Landon Donovan into the United States first world class attacking player
- Selected, coached and galvanized a group of mostly modestly talented (relative to the world stage) individuals into a unified team that fought for each other and the common good
But now I wonder what Bob does next. While staying on in his current role is a possibility and by reviewing his accomplishments above would make sense, extensions beyond one World Cup cycle are rare and shouldn’t be counted on. As a certain coach told me when he resigned from the Chicago Fire, “we could have achieved more, but we had a real good run and change is often best for everyone.” So, if this is indeed the close of a chapter for Bob, what will the next chapter be?
There are already rumors linking him with two prominent jobs that are not yet even open in London and D.C.:
This would be an intriguing opportunity for the Princeton grad. He would be the first American born head coach in the Premiership. Fulham is a club that has reached out for American players in recent years including current US National Teamers Clint Dempsey and Carlos Bocanegra. In many ways, this would be a better opportunity for Bob than continuing into the next cycle with the US Men. While Fulham currently has popular Roy Hodgson in the skipper’s post, he is likely to bolt for Liverpool in the coming days.
- DC United
Returning to his MLS roots where he served as Bruce Arena’s top assistant and earning MLS Cup rings in each of the League’s first two seasons. Curt Onalfo is in the seat now in his first season as United coach. Bob still has a close relationship with DC United President Kevin Payne and Onalfo’s team has posted a substandard record of 3-9-1, for ten points which is tied with two other teams for fewest in the 16-team MLS.
- Chivas USA
Perhaps he could take over his former club that is struggling under new coach Martin Vasquez at 3-9-1, which matches DC United’s ten points at the bottom of the MLS standings. This would allow Bob to remain in southern California, close to his daughters who attend college in the area.
- Youth Development with US Soccer
Keeping one of the country’s smartest soccer brains in US Soccer, but redirecting his focus to the sport’s overall development would bear fruit down the road.
Perhaps he will take a less predictable step.
- Major League Soccer
While I wouldn’t expect Bob to take any position that would keep him off the sidelines and training fields, his experience, knowledge and intensity would serve America’s top professional league well in many areas. While his professional career has been on the competition side of soccer, his intelligence and perspective would also be beneficial on the business side. Few people realize that Bob has a graduate degree in sports administration from Ohio University, one of the nation’s most respected programs of its kind.
- Collegiate Coaching
Bob isn’t one to make decisions based on popular expectations and coaching out of the public spotlight would allow him the opportunity to focus on what’s important to him – his family, his players and the sport of soccer. A southern California school position would allow him the chance to stay near his daughters and an Eastern school would bring him back to his roots and nearer other family members.
Again this is unlikely, because it would keep Bob away from his passion of being on the sidelines, in the locker room and in the editing room working to develop a group of athletes into a successful team. However, a Bob Bradley book describing his ideas and practices to assemble, develop and prepare a team wold serve as a great resource for coaches in any sport and offer invaluable life lessons to all.
Just kidding. Wanted to see if you were paying attention. While I think Bob would be the best soccer analyst this side of Wigan coach Roberto Martinez, I can’t imagine him ever wanting to do this.
Whatever path Bob chooses to take, I am certain he will do so with integrity, hard work, intelligence and considerable thought and he will be successful again.