It was nearly 1 a.m. Cairo time last Friday when Bob Bradley called. If you're the Egyptian national soccer coach, as Bradley has been since last September, lack of sleep is understandable these days. On Feb. 1, more than 70 people died in violent clashes after an Egyptian league game between Al-Masry and Al-Ahly in Port Said.
Bob Bradley knew the job would be tough when he took it.
The Egyptian Football Association says it has reached an agreement with Bob Bradley for the former U.S. coach to take control of the north African country's soccer team.
Jürgen Klinsmann's introduction as new national team coach lands as better news for some than others. Here's an early analysis of who stands to benefit most from this week's huge news -- along with a shortlist of those who might not fare as well -- as the freethinking German innovator prepares for his first match on the U.S. sidelines.
Three thoughts on the firing of U.S. men's soccer coach Bob Bradley on Thursday:
The curious timing of Bob Bradley's abrupt, stunning dismissal won't seem so curious if we discover that U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati already has identified a successor.
It can't be easy for U.S. coach Bob Bradley or his son Michael to deal with the pressure of the U.S. team not performing well in the Gold Cup, and Michael's actions in an incident the day before the 4-2 loss to Mexico in the final on June 25 might indicate just how frayed his emotions were.
If we hatch predictions based solely on recent form or on the talismanic presence of a certain, burgeoning Mexican scoring sensation, Saturday's Gold Cup final really should be no contest.
HOUSTON -- U.S. player ratings in its 1-0 win over Panama (scale of 1-10).
HOUSTON -- Things are lining up brilliantly for a U.S. soccer team still looking to put things right after some unappealing results. In the Twitter universe, you'd hashtag this one #WeekOfRedemption.
Finally, a little sunshine is gathering around the Gold Cup effort for coach Bob Bradley and his national team.
KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Here's what Tuesday's U.S. game was supposed to be: a meaningless Gold Cup group-stage finale against Guadeloupe (9 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer, TeleFutura), a tiny Caribbean island that (as part of France) isn't even allowed to compete in World Cup qualifying.
When it comes to advancing out of the first round, into elimination play, the CONCACAF Gold Cup format is almost comically forgiving. Teams play three first round matches, an exercise that serves to eliminate only 4 of 12 nations before quarterfinal play.
There's only one sure cure for the raging Spanish hangover currently pounding in the temples of Bob Bradley's national team: a better night against Canada to open a tournament that the coach and his men have pointed toward all spring.
Maybe the big discussion from Saturday's clinic inside Gillette Stadium shouldn't be about starting lineups and the wisdom of U.S. coach Bob Bradley deploying a "B team" in a match that bumps up against an important tournament -- although there is certainly a hardy debate there.
Five storylines to follow as the CONCACAF Gold Cup kicks off Sunday:
This is a big June for Bob Bradley's United States national team, and there's no easing into it. Far from it, in fact, for a U.S. side that cannot be accused of shrinking from quality opposition.
Bob Bradley isn't known for throwing curve balls. The U.S. national team coach is pretty much a fire 'em down the middle type guy. Too much so for some supporters.
From the Gold Cup's effect on MLS rosters to Philadelphia's six-spot at BMO Field, here are five thoughts from Saturday's MLS action ...
Five things you should know about Week 9 in MLS:
The CONCACAF Gold Cup is vital for its ultimate reward, a berth in the 2013 Confederations Cup. It's darned serious business, not to be taken as some summery, playful distraction. Even if you don't think so, U.S. Soccer certainly does. Coach Bob Bradley and his staff have made the strategic choice that Gold Cup glory must be claimed.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Juan Agudelo's rise on the U.S. men's national team scene may be the trending soccer topic in this country, but another newcomer recently had his stock soar in a limited time as well.
Tuesday's friendly in Nashville comes with the usual roll call of unknowns: Who might play? Who will rise or shine? Which side can muster greater motivation, etc.?
The last time the U.S. played Argentina, in 2008, the result was proof that a 0-0 score line could still produce a thrilling soccer game. U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard stood on his head, and a huge crowd in the Meadowlands saw the Americans survive going toe-to-toe with supernova Lionel Messi and his talented Argentine teammates.
The last time Bob Bradley's national team met Argentina in New Jersey (June 2008), it took a night of breathless, outstanding goalkeeping from Tim Howard to keep the Americans from being routed.
Five thoughts coming off the weekend action around the world:
CARSON, Calif -- Bob Bradley calls them "starting points." They are the attributes possessed by some of the 25 players he called into a recent training camp that might give them a future with the U.S. national team.
If it's January and the U.S. soccer team is punctuating an early camp with a friendly at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., then somebody is probably making news.
The final days of 2010 are upon us, so it's natural to look back on the year in sports -- or, in my case, the year of soccer. It was a memorable year if you're a fútbol fan, and it was for me too. Here are some of my stories behind the stories, my memories of chasing the game in 2010:
The national team just capped a busy 2010, but Bob Bradley's boys return to the field next week. The young ones, at least. Major League Soccer just decided its championship, but the teeny break closes quickly; the combine, draft and training camps are just around the corner.
Nobody can accuse U.S. coach Bob Bradley of not examining a wide sweep of players as the next World Cup cycle commences in earnest.
Most of us gaze with only passing interest as U.S. Soccer begins each year with a national team training camp in January -- a month ranking low in domestic soccer happenings.
Sometimes a "How do you do?" and a handshake are so much more than just a "How do you do?" and a handshake.
Lots to talk about in this week's 'Bag, so let's get it started ...
The U.S. national team depth chart is clearly in transition. It certainly is a tricky time to assign order as the value of "potential" is elevated slightly for the time being.
Here's the important thing to remember when it comes to experiments in soccer, or anywhere else for that matter: sometimes the results are gonna stink.
Change was in vogue as the United States tied Poland on Saturday to open a pair of fall friendlies. And there will surely be more as coach Bob Bradley's Americans complete the back end of the set Tuesday against Colombia at PPL Park in Chester, Pa.
Tinkering and a desire to experiment is a good thing as another World Cup cycle commences, especially when it comes from a noted anti-tinkerer. United States coach Bob Bradley typically prefers his "something old" over his "something new" when it comes to the marriage of personnel and tactics. But the changes made Saturday in his team's 2-2 draw with Poland in Chicago do beg a vexing question: how much assessment and subsequent development can you really do around a tweaked formation when several players are out of their best positions? (Or, when a player or two just aren't up for the job in certain spots?)
For more evidence that the United States national team program marches inexorably forward, even if the results don't always bear it out, consider this little gem: Saturday's 18-man U.S. roster set to face Poland will consist entirely of players based abroad.
I figured it was time for a soccer Mailbag, so the 'Bag (that's me) decided to put one together for this week's Planet Fútbol column. Let's dig in:
With Bob Bradley freshly back in the fold as the U.S. coach with a four-year contract extension, USSF president Sunil Gulati probably concluded, not unreasonably, that U.S. Soccer's best move for the 2014 World Cup cycle would be to subscribe to the "safe rather than sorry" theory.
NEW YORK -- Is a second World Cup cycle one too many for a national-team coach?
Is the endgame of the stay-or-go saga involving U.S. coach Bob Bradley finally upon us? The U.S. World Cup coach's contract runs out at the end of December, but the uncertainty over Bradley's future was a sizable distraction for the U.S. players in their recent friendly against Brazil (according to team sources), and I'd argue that it needs to be resolved before the U.S. team gathers next in October for exhibitions against Poland and Colombia.
It is important whenever judging Bob Bradley to remember how he became coach of the U.S. men's national team.
The last time we saw the U.S. soccer team, pride of accomplishment was filling the center while disappointment charred the edges. Bob Bradley's men packed up and left South Africa with mixed feelings of a mission only partially accomplished.
Nobody needs a crystal ball to pick out the favorite for World Cup 2014. The tournament is in Brazil ... so need we say more?
Bob Bradley's ability to squeeze a second-round appearance from a roster only marginally talented by World Cup standards has renewed an old debate, one that occasionally goes around the proverbial U.S. soccer supporters' table.
RUSTENBURG, South Africa -- We've all seen this movie before, a sluggish start from the United States. Six times in final-round qualifying the United States conceded the first goal.
Reality finally had its day in this difficult Charlie Davies situation.
Everyone can now exhale and breathe a moment after this Charlie Davies decision and the residual unpleasantness. But that doesn't mean tough choices aren't ahead.
There will be thousands of guesses but only one man truly knows.
Know your Major League Soccer -- Five things to take away from Week 4:
Before the 2002 and '06 World Cups, training camp opened rather placidly for the United States with 22 players all breathing easy about their spots on the final roster.
The age-old adage in professional soccer is that "form is temporary, class is permanent," a refrain that's certainly appropriate when discussing which players should receive a World Cup call-up for their respective national teams.
Know your Major League Soccer -- Five things to take away from Week 3:
AMSTERDAM -- Hard games. That has been the mantra for the U.S. national team under coach Bob Bradley, and Wednesday's test against world No. 3 the Netherlands (2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2, Galavisión) is the latest big challenge in a four-year World Cup preparation cycle that has been far more difficult than the one before World Cup 2006.
TAMPA, Fla. -- The U.S.' domestic-based B team meets El Salvador here Wednesday night (7 p.m. ET, ESPN Classic, Galavisión), but while the bigger first-team game takes place next Wednesday at the Netherlands, there are still some things that we can learn as coach Bob Bradley continues narrowing his options toward naming a 23-man World Cup roster in May.
TAMPA, Fla. -- The 'Bag is back, folks. During my days covering college basketball I would do a regular mailbag column in which I answered reader questions, shared nuggets that didn't make my magazine stories, engaged in various parlor games, tracked down "Where Are They Now" figures and even recommended a movie or two. Now that I'm covering soccer full-time, the 'Bag (that's me) is back on the case. I'll be happy to answer your questions on just about anything in the soccer world -- the smarter and/or funnier the better -- so send 'em in and let's get after it.
CARSON, Calif. -- Bob Bradley wouldn't even try. Asked to single out a player who performed well in Saturday night's 3-1 loss (RECAP) to Honduras at the Home Depot Center, the U.S. national team coach said it "won't be a game where we will be picking out players who stood out." Down a man from the 17th minute forward, after center back Jimmy Conrad received his second yellow card, and down a goal only two minutes later, the U.S. never got settled. Poorly weighted passes, miscommunication and loose marking, only two shots on goal -- it was a night of lowlights for the U.S.
At a press conference prior to the Hexagonal finale against Costa Rica in Washington, U.S. Soccer press officer Michael Kammarman pointed out that in 2009, the U.S. would play its 21st competitive match, the most ever in a calendar year.
WASHINGTON -- This was supposed to be a news-free visit to the nation's capital for the U.S. national team. The Yanks had already clinched a World Cup berth on Saturday. Their final qualifier here on Wednesday against Costa Rica was going to be "meaningless."
It's not exactly as if a wave of Hispanic-American athletes has plowed through Team USA, but the number of Mexican-American players currently in the national-team pool is growing by the year. In fact, there are five Americans playing in the Mexican Primera División and three of them have played for the U.S. in international competitions before.
SANDY, Utah -- So who has been the standout for U.S. Soccer this past year? That's the question I need to answer, as my ballot arrived just this past week for the Honda Player of Year, voted on annually by the American soccer media.
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad -- It's tough to feel a sense of urgency when you're sitting in a luxury hotel overlooking the Caribbean Sea on a glorious late-summer afternoon. But it's still possible, especially if you're Tim Howard, the goalkeeper whose U.S. national team needs a victory in Wednesday's World Cup qualifier against Trinidad and Tobago (7 p.m. ET, ESPN Classic, TeleFutura) to feel good about its chances of reaching South Africa 2010.
U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati's statement at halftime of Saturday's U.S.-El Salvador game that Edgar Castillo had been cleared by FIFA to represent the United States at the senior national-team level was certainly coincidental.
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad -- There are times, when you sit and talk for more than hour with U.S. coach Bob Bradley, that you wonder if he's a sort of soccer version of Rain Man.
PARK CITY, Utah -- It's almost certain that the U.S. won't clinch a World Cup berth in this week's important qualifiers -- that would require two U.S. wins and two Mexico losses -- but the third-place Americans have almost zero margin for error in a tight four-team race for three automatic spots in South Africa 2010.
One game away from a chance to win its third straight Gold Cup, the U.S. national team plays Honduras for the third time in the past seven weeks on Thursday (7 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer Channel, TeleFutura) with a different team than it used the last two times.
Not for declaration and certainly not for vindication, here's a rundown on the status of certain MLS players as they vie for spots on the 2010 World Cup squad of 23.
JOHANNESBURG -- Pedigree matters. If it didn't, we might not have witnessed what happened at Ellis Park on Sunday, an unstoppable rally that gave Brazil the Confederations Cup title in a 3-2 win over the U.S. (RECAP). Heck, when was the last time you saw a team come back from two goals down at halftime in a major final? (Apart from the 2005 Champions League final, that is.)
CHICAGO -- Well, that was a relief. The U.S. national team emerged from its toughest week yet of 2010 World Cup qualifying, bruised but standing tall. After getting abused and flattened in Costa Rica 3-1 last Wednesday, the Americans responded by rallying on Honduras 2-1 Saturday at Soldier Field, its first comeback win in World Cup qualifying in 24 years. The end result is that the U.S. stands in second place halfway through the Hexagonal final round of CONCACAF qualifying with a 3-1-1 record and 10 points.
Contrary to popular belief, there's a very good reason for U.S. coach Bob Bradley not to rely on every MLS player who might be playing well when it comes to assembling a squad for Hexagonal qualifiers. In many cases, they don't measure up.
Just seconds after Costa Rica's third goal in the U.S.' 3-1 loss in Saprissa last week, the knives came out. They came in various forms: texts, emails, tweets, handwritten screeds on bathroom walls. The vitriol was loaded with so much venom you'd have thought Ann Coulter and Arianna Huffington were locked in a steel cage match.
CARSON, Calif. -- It's MLS preseason here in Southern California, and there are several things to report:
Sacha Kljestan turned his 13th U.S. national-team appearance into his lucky day, scoring his first three international goals all in the same match, a 3-2 win over Sweden in Saturday's friendly.
Police have pleaded for peace, fines have been meted out and sanctions issued. Enough controversy has been generated by outspoken coaches in Europe to make any fan long for similar drama in Major League Soccer. But sadly, it's unlikely to happen.
In the next few days, names of players summoned by U.S. coach Bob Bradley for the next two CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers will begin to leak out, with the inclusion or lack thereof of Freddy Adu, Jozy Altidore, Eddie Johnson and Kenny Cooper drawing the most interest.
On Thursday evening, the U.S. national team arrived at the Hotel Melia Cohiba, two blocks from Havana's charming Malecón, the four-mile waterfront walkway. Before heading for the team dinner, coach Bob Bradley discussed the significance of Saturday's Cuba-U.S. game (8 p.m. ET, ESPN Classic and Galavision), which will most likely be one of the U.S.' 18 games in 2010 World Cup qualifying.
The U.S. national team's quest for a berth in the 2010 World Cup begins on Wednesday with a match against Guatemala, and I, for one, can't wait. Finally -- finally! -- we all get to see where this team really is, learn how far it's come since beating Mexico in last summer's Gold Cup final.
It took a fraction of a second to build Benny Feilhaber up into the Next Big Thing in American soccer. And 11 months to bring him back down to earth.
Two years ago a changing of the guard for the U.S. men's national team began, with the retirement of several veterans following a disappointing showing at the 2006 World Cup. On the eve of qualifying play for the 2010 tournament, not all of the questions that faced the national team at that time have been answered.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- In the end, it was just a little flick of the hand that said the most. After the final whistle had blown at Sunday's U.S.-Argentina match, Freddy Adu fed off the energy of 78,000 fans at Giants Stadium and dismissed Argentina's Fernando Gago with the simplest of gestures. For me, it was the most vivid moment on a night that had hundreds of them.
Three years ago, during preparations for a match against England, U.S. striker Eddie Johnson suffered an ankle injury from which he, and the national team, have yet to recover.
LOS ANGELES -- Ah, preseason. A chance to play "name that camp invitee," watch grown men stretch their groins together and start the David Beckham watch again.
HOUSTON -- Both coaches agree that controlling midfield play is likely to decide Wednesday's U.S.-Mexico friendly (ESPN2, Univision, 9 p.m. ET).
Two players have left camp and at least one other is injured, so the choices for U.S. coach Bob Bradley will be limited somewhat when he names his 18 players who will face Sweden on Saturday at Home Depot Center (Fox Soccer Channel, 8:30 p.m. ET).
Bob Bradley looks back on his first year at the helm of the U.S. national team, the challenges going into World Cup 2010 qualifying, and the state of the U.S. game in general.
If 2007 was an important and memorable year for the U.S. national team -- hired a new coach, Benny Feilhaber's miracle volley in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final, the Copa América (mis)adventure -- then '08 is shaping up to be the complete opposite: 12 months of pick-up games in the backyard.
It's the holiday season. A time to celebrate family. A time to think of those less fortunate than yourself. A time to rejoice in the brotherhood of ma...
I can't believe I'm writing this: The U.S.' 4-2 loss to Brazil on Sunday in Chicago was much closer than the score indicated. Here are my five thoughts from the most entertaining performance Team USA has put on in months.
Forgive Steve Ralston if he looked a little disoriented on Saturday. After all, the veteran New England Revolution midfielder only rolled into U.S. national-team camp a few days ago, nearly a week later than his teammates.
Like it or not, the Bob Bradley Era of the U.S. national team officially begins this week, as the 23 players he called in for the CONCACAF Gold Cup report to camp on Monday.
Who do you like in the Champions League final (ESPN2, Wednesday, 2 p.m. ET): Liverpool or AC Milan? -- Jon-Claud Nix, Hartford, Conn.
One hundred and sixty days.
"Change is indubitable, whereas progress is a matter of controversy."
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The strangest thing happened in the U.S.'s 2-0 win over Mexico: An interim coach (U.S. manager Bob Bradley) acted like he had already won the job, while a supposedly secure coach (Mexico's Hugo Sánchez) acted like ... an interim coach.