Happy Columbus Day! I plan to celebrate Columbus Day the traditional way, by giving smallpox to a group of Indians WHAT? WHAT? Oh, come on! Don't be like that! It's just a joke! What? Awww....
I'd been meaning to link to Fighting Talker since he gave me a completely unwarranted compliment the other week - and lo and behold, he's got the headline of the year here. One that has kept me hiding under the desk rather than write about the USMNT, sure, but a great headline nevertheless.
United States soccer bloggers (composite file photo)
Running up the score on a bunch of short-handed, demoralized Communists is great and all, and it's fine to see that the United States has finally mastered the tactic of beating bad teams while a man up. Why, we even had the wake-up call, when Cuba scored the goal on our defense while they were telling each other what hot cider they were.
The real accomplishment is that Bob Bradley now has two games to experiment, against teams who have a lot to play for, who are pretty much representative of the level of non-Mexico CONCACAF. Now, finally, we'll see the 1-2-7 with Freddy Adu in goal that fans have been demanding. This is the time, even more than garbage January friendlies, that we can test new players. This Torres person* who is so popular among Washington banner-makers, for example.**
People who thought Bob Bradley should be replaced have a dilemma - there aren't too many ways that Bradley's performance at this point will warrant firing, short of the US failing to qualify. The US could finish fourth in the Hex, and Sunil could rope in the long-sought-after Foreign Name who will Bring Respect to the Program sometime between the final day of the Hex and the first game against...let's see, who's gonna finish fifth in South America? Probably someone better than Honduras or Costa Rica.
Qualifying outright is enough to steer the team in the World Cup, based on the Steve Sampson precedent. Although the Steve Sampson precedent is probably enough to argue that there shouldn't be a Steve Sampson precedent. So the best possible way to ensure Bob Bradley's replacement is for the United States to finish fourth, then for Mexico or Honduras or whoever to be docked points or found out using overage players in the U-8 World Cup or whatever.
It would also help if Bradley were to publicly advocate the violent overthrow of the United States government. I have no idea what Coach Bradley's politics are. Maybe someone can ask him a leading question or something.
But let's say Bradley wakes up one day, notices that the only Princeton grad making less money than him is Jesse Marsch, and quits in disgust. Who do we replace him with? A famous name, likeSven-Goran Eriksoon? Or someone like Kinnear or Schmid, who has spent years with American players and knows the talent pool backwards and forwards? Who do you think Gulati will choose?
Fire Gulati, then, and replace him with...someone likely to hand power over to the kind of tempermental egomaniac that becomes a famous international coach? Who in the USSF answers that description? Who in corporate America answers that description?
Let's say you get elected, and you dip into the kitty to hire Jose Mourinho or Juergen Klinsmann. You'd better keep him happy, because clubs are going to offer him jobs closer to his home, for as much money as you can afford...plus he'll be able to pick his own players, rather than stick with the US talent pool. Assuming he does learn the US talent pool, and doesn't Gullit all over the place.
Bob Bradley is going to be the coach until the end of the 2010 World Cup. He will almost certainly be replaced by an MLS coach - is Martin Vasquez the only American coaching abroad anywhere at all? Lemonade tastes better than Kool-Aid anyway.
*People in the know really like Torres, by the way. He may not take DaMarcus' spot, but it looks like there might be room for him.
**Celebrating a player who has zero caps, and trashing a player who wasn't even in the country...remind me never to piss off the guys who make the DC United banners.