Bradley's Boyz

Discussion in 'USA Men: News & Analysis' started by Maximum Optimal, Sep 4, 2007.

  1. Maximum Optimal

    Maximum Optimal Member+

    Jul 10, 2001
    It is human nature to want familiar faces with you when going into battle or any big undertaking. In the business world, I've seen many bosses come into a new job and the first thing they do is bring along a few loyalists from their old job. Just about every President brings along a few (or more than a few as the case may be) cronies and childhood friends with him to the White House, even if they don't exactly have the right qualifications for their new jobs. Soccer coaches also tend to have their favorites. Arena had Richie Williams and a few others as his pets.

    This tendency seems even stronger in Bradley's case. Putting aside the special case of his son, he seems to have a strong tendency to favor the guys he knows. There are the ones he knows from his Fire days: Boca, DMB, Wolff. Obviously, a guy like the Beaz is there on merit, but I wonder about some of the others. Should Boca be clearly ahead of Jimmy Conrad based upon recent performances? What about Wolff done in oh the last five years to make anyone think he merits a call-up?

    Then there are the Chivas boys. I personally think Bornstein is better at LB than Pearce, but agree with those who say that we need to give other candidates some games there. Klejstan is another of Bradley's Chivas boys. He's one that I've never been impressed by and am somewhat mystified about his inclusion on the Copa roster.

    Perhaps the ultimate Bradley boy is Jesse Marsch. He played for Bob at Chicago and Chivas, but goes much further back, having played for him at Princeton. Lucky Jesse gets a runout against China earlier this year, in spite of oh maybe 100 other US midfielders being more qualified.

    There is also the interesting case of Ricardo Clark, who was once traded away by Bob. Does this mean that Rico will have to overcome a higher hurdle in becoming a regular for the national team?

    As I noted at the outset it is human nature to take your buddies with you when given a big job. My experience is that the best executives are the ones that learn to overcome this natural tendency. They develop an ability to look objectively at the capabilities of people, whether they know them well or not. Maybe Bradley will learn to do this. I'm not happy about the early indications.
  2. IndividualEleven

    Mar 16, 2006
    This is why I favor a foreign coach. Just as corporates often turn to someone 'outside the family' the USSF would be better placed to grab someone from abroad.

    Or at least someone not so emeshed in the system.

    Like Kinnear.
  3. ugaaccountant

    ugaaccountant New Member

    Oct 26, 2003
    Very few of the instances you note are necesarily bad.
    Boca vs. Conrad - Boca is in his prime age cycle and starts every week in the EPL. If he wasn't playing in favor of Conrad at this point in the cycle i'd be shocked. It is starting to get time to try a different base combo than Gooch/Boca but Boca had to be our first choice this cycle based on merit. His body of accomplishments in a nat uniform and for his club far exceeded his competition. In fact Boca was a logical choice to try as captain as well since only he, Dolo, and Landon had much reasonable claim to it.

    Wolff - I'm relying on what others say, but most on this board who have followed his B2 season claim he's doing quite well and is playing RM. Maybe he's legit depth for Donovan/Dempsey as the RM/FW depending on our mood? He has played a ton for the US in the past and gets called back up after our other forwards fail and he's had a good stretch with his club, hardly favoritism in my book.

    Bornstein - At least he's taking this game off. LB is tricky for us since nobody that plays LB for us is in the same class as most of our positions. Until Pearce's recent move we had 0 LB's in a high quality league. Bornstein's head and shoulders the top MLS LB.

    Klejestan was a high impact rookie last year and certainly looked worthy of a callup to these U-23 based teams (China, COPA). It's not like he's called up for the gold cup or Sweden or Brazil.

    Marsh was the last piece of a puzzle on the China game the same reason Arnaud's on the Brazil game. His team was off that week. His teamate Razov also got the call, as did 4 U-23's who otherwise wouldn't have made a US roster. The argument of whether this is a judicious way of calling up bench guys for a friendly is another argument all together. My take is it was better than not playing the game at all so why not.

    Rico's played. I don't understand why people act like he hasn't had an opportunity to go out and force Bob's hand. His hurdle is the same one it was in NY - Michael Bradley. Bob and staff (wouldn't Peter be lobbying for a change in position by now if Bob was showing nepotism? You couldn't keep that quiet.) seem to agree with me that Michael is simply a better prospect or possibly even a better player today than Rico is. At the very least depending on what you need out of a defensive mid Michael may be the better choice. The US doesn't need 3 starting dm's but when we wise up and stop starting a clearly declining Pablo then Rico will have even more chances.

    I don't see a Richie Williams in that group. The 06 cycle's "Richie Williams" were Ralston (MLS's all time leading assist guy) and Olsen (currently #7 in MLS scoring as a wing mid, was a top scorer as well pre world cup last year). This time you're arguing it's guys who have gotten limited callup's in specific circumstances (and we've already played 50 or so guys this year), or players who have a legit resume of high performance in MLS and/or actual playing time in high quality leagues. I simply don't think we have any "pet favorites" anymore who aren't there on at least average for the US team merit.

    After getting in the door on merit, it makes sense to build a team with a good bit of continuity, while leaving the opportunity open for those who demand it through their play (Jozy for instance). I just don't see where Clark or Conrad (etc.) have demanded a starting spot, b/c clearly they are already in the team at a sub level.
  4. sidefootsitter

    sidefootsitter Member+

    Oct 14, 2004
    A president or a mob capo needs to have guys around him that he can trust, almost to the exclusion of other factors. That what someone can not do, he can delegate.

    On the international soccer level, however, you can't delegate. Maybe a really deep squad like Brazil, England, Germany, etc. has room for a 22-23rd guy to be a de facto coach's lieutenant.

    Overall, however, you want your best players be those lieutenants. You want your Popes, Kellers, Donovans and McBrides to be your leaders when they're at the top of their game and are among your best players. What you don't want as a coach is to think that McBride or Donovan isn't good enough to be among the starters but you put him out there anyway because he provides some sort of a mental edge and/or leadership qualities that warrant his inclusion.

    This is a subject of much debate among the NFL circles too. Cam Cameron, upon taking over in Miami, announced that the first quality he looks for in a quarterback is leadership. Now, he's obviously not neglecting other factors (physical or mental traits) but that's his opinion of the job requirements.

    On the other hand, Alex Ferguson allowed Roy Keane to leave when Keano was no longer capable of performing at the very best as a player. The other qualities were presumably still there but, if Keane couldn't play as well as his replacement, he wasn't going to be featured.

    And, to contrast with the Richie Williamses, Jeff Agooses and Eddie Popes, he wasn't going to be allowed to hang around the team if he couldn't lead by example.

    I happen to think that Fergie's approach was the right one. You want your "intangibles" to come from your top guys. The role players are just that.
  5. FC Tallavana

    FC Tallavana Member+

    Jul 1, 2004

    Kinnear would trot out a USA line-up of...


    Actually, that ain't so bad...

    Except for that damn Canadian goalkeeper.
  6. MichaelMc

    MichaelMc New Member

    Jun 17, 2007
    I'd say it's in Bigsoccer's nature for posters to divorce themselves from reality when commenting and you've done a fine job of that.

    Bocanegra has played a total of 705 minutes under BB. Conrad has played 540 minutes even though he missed the entire Gold Cup while he was recovering from a broken jaw. How do you see that as an indication that Boca is the clear favorite? Jimmy doesn't look like he's 100% and will be available for the winter camp and games, give him a rest now. Neither are clearly ahead of the other.
    Wolff is an American forward with a pulse and the weekend off. That's how Arnaud made the team. The forward pool is that bad.

    Pearce got called up for the Brazil match, what's the problem? I think Bornstein is also the better player so I don't find it surprising that BB called up Bornstein so often. Now that Pearce is in a good league I expect to see more of him if he can perform in Germany. I've been to Denmark a few times, the beer is good, the ladies are hot, but their domestic league is poor.
    Anyone using callups to Copa America as an indication of favoritism should be banned from US N&A. Lets try this again... Clubs, even MLS clubs, were not required to release players for Copa America. Bob took what he could get.

    Using the China match as an example is even more stupid than using Copa America. Bob didn't callup anyone from MLS who had a match that weekend. That's why Razov and Marsch played. Name your 100 players more qualified who were free for the weekend.

    Ricardo Clark has played 577 minutes under BB.
    Mastroeni has played 543 minutes under BB.
    M Bradley has played 670 minutes under BB.
    Benny Feilhaber has played 813 minutes under BB.

    I don't see the problem. Clark would have been named to this weekends roster if he played for KC, but he doesn't. I want to see Ricardo with the Nats as much as the next guy but I'm not going to be stupid about it. Houston released him for the Gold Cup and Copa America, they want to keep him now.

    Thanks for bringing this forum down another notch.
  7. UChicagoSoccer

    UChicagoSoccer New Member

    Mar 6, 2005
    The answer to all problems. Get a foreign coach.

    That's what Sunil has wanted since before the Arena days.

    But you'll still get "the boyz" mentality with a foreign coach, it simply will be that he'll prefer the yanks-abroad, since they have "European seasoning."

    And if we've learned anything over the past 10 years or so, it's that the yanks-abroad aren't better just because they might be abroad or even in a 'better' league.

    The foreign coach solves little other than the coach not having any familiarity with "American" soccer and the so-called "American mentality".
  8. IndividualEleven

    Mar 16, 2006
    You did notice I mentioned 'Kinnear' right?

    The idea is to get someone from outside of the USSF system whether it's a foreigner or not.

    Players from top Euro leagues are always going to get opportunities no matter who the coach is.
  9. UChicagoSoccer

    UChicagoSoccer New Member

    Mar 6, 2005
    Yes, I did notice Kinnear.

    It was a poor example, because who isn't more immersed in USSF than someone coaching an MLS team? He knows first-hand the difficulties of having players called up during the season (since we fail to leave international dates free of scheduling conflicts) when making it to the playoffs matters a great deal to the reputation of the team and to the credibility of the coach.

    So, anyone who is truly 'outside' the USSF would be unaware of such problems first off, and second they would favor, not just give opportunities to yanks-abroad. That's the difference. Everyone in the pool is given a fair shot, except for Bradley's boys, and Arena's boys, etc. But to be prejudiced not based on familiarity with the players but rather because of bias towards/against the league would be an inevitable pitfall for someone not named Klinsmann and Kinnear.
  10. Maximum Optimal

    Maximum Optimal Member+

    Jul 10, 2001
    If you think using callups for COPA and friendlies such as the China match are stupid ways to make a point, I would kindly request you redo these numbers without the minutes played in COPA and friendlies such as China. I have a hunch the re-done numbers will be quite revealing.

    It will be interesting to see how the situation in central midfield evolves. For now I would note that Feilhaber's minutes include the time against Sweden when he was moved out of position to right mid, allowing Junior to log in more minutes in central midfield. Also worth noting is that Junior's minutes would have been even higher if not for the red card against Canada and his having to go the U20s rather than COPA. Over the next year or two, we will have a couple pretty good newcomers, Edu and Szetela, joining in the fray at central midfield. I'm looking forward to see how well correlated the distribution of playing time is to the merits of the individual players.

    The left side (left back and left mid) will be interesting going forward too. Mapp and Adu are very different types of players than DMB. We'll see if there is any attempt to configure the team in a way to accomodate their strengths and weakness--which interestingly enough might mean having a left back behind them who brings a different offense/defense mix than Bornstein.

    Central defense will be interesting too. It is becoming apparent that this team needs an "organizer" on defense. Perhaps someone like Conrad or Parkhurst. We'll see how long Bradley rides the Gooch/Boca combination.
  11. MichaelMc

    MichaelMc New Member

    Jun 17, 2007
    Are you joking or are you really this daft? I'll spell it out for the thinking impaired. Bob's options for the Copa America and China roster were limited but that doesn't make the experience any less valuable for players that were allowed to participate. Criticizing Bradley for his limited choices is stupid, but the games were still worth playing. It's really simple if you think. You just need to understand that player availability is a factor for non-international dates and that the USSF will continue to work with MLS to lessen the effects of national team duty on the league's clubs. This has been the standard practice since the inception of MLS.

    Again it's not hard to figure out that so far the biggest determining factor for now is player availability. Clark and Mastro got the first couple friendlies when MLS was out of season then Feilhaber and Bradley got the next 2 because they were available. The China roster was YA's plus ChivasUSA. M. Bradley played more than Clark in the Gold Cup because Clark was covering Copa America and Feilhaber has played the most because he's been available the most. Lets look at the Sweden match on the 22nd, Clark had a game on the 19th of Aug and Mastroeni was off between the 16th and the 26th. Do I really have to spell this out for you?

    The only definitive thing that we can figure from BB's central mid call-ups and starts is that Bob has started Mastroeni every single time Pablo was available. That's it.

    Oh yeah!!! Because everything would have played out exactly as it has if Conrad hadn't gone and smashed his head in. That bit was sarcasm if you were wondering.

    Kudos to you if this whole thread is an inside joke that I missed. If not, and unfortunately because of bigsoccer's standards I'm led to believe this is not a joke, I don't know what else to say.
  12. Maximum Optimal

    Maximum Optimal Member+

    Jul 10, 2001
    We'll see my friend. To summarize, my main points are that due to excessive loyalty to players he feels he knows well, Bradley will stick inflexibly and in a way that will jeopardize the team's success to the following:

    1) A central midfield pairing that involves Gooch and Boca, two players that give you a strong physical presence but are somewhat lacking in their ability to organize a defense.
    2) A left side of Bornstein and Beasley. This may well be our best combination on the left side, but I doubt we will see the experimentation on that side that will allow us to know whether that is in fact the case.
    3) Playing time for Bradley in central mid that significantly exceeds his merits relative to the other young alternatives: Feilhaber, Clark, Edu and Szetela.
  13. obewan

    obewan New Member

    Jul 24, 2005
    Manchester United FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    We should hire an English coach who thinks American footballers are pants & the MLS is a pub-league. That would put everyone on a level playing field.

    On a similar note, I heard that Cobi Jones once tried to convince Bora that his last name was pronounced "HO-nays" to earn more playing time.
  14. MichaelMc

    MichaelMc New Member

    Jun 17, 2007
    I prefer to have discussions on what's really happening than on these ridiculous claims that you've tossed out in this thread. I wish the mods would really moderate this forum as an analysis forum and delete threads that are nothing more than baseless conjecture. There's plenty to criticize BB on, how bout we stick to things that are actually happening.

    Mods, at least move crap like this to the general forum.
  15. NSlander

    NSlander Member

    Feb 28, 2000
    LA CA
    Get over yourself.
  16. IndividualEleven

    Mar 16, 2006
    I've never read or heard anyone claiming Alex Ferguson or Jose Mourinho as being closely connected with the English FA.
  17. Metros#1

    Metros#1 New Member

    May 14, 2001
    It's hard to predict the future, but how can you say MB is a better player today? Is it because his uncanny ability to shoot weakly straight to the keeper when he’s open outside the box or his often feeble attempts of imitating a midfield destroyer by committing card-able fouls? He can get much better, but if this kid is indeed one of best midfield choices TODAY, then our midfield is simply pathetic.
  18. Chromeknee

    Chromeknee New Member

    Apr 30, 2004
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Bradley can and most certainly will get better. He is still young, and he is one of the best prospects we have at midfielder. He has made errors, which you seem to like to focus on, but he has also played some excellent soccer, which you seem to choose to ignore. He will learn playing in Holland and playing with the US National Team. And to say the future of the US Midfielders is pathetic makes me wonder which team you are watching. If Michael Bradley was not cutting it, Bob would be the first to sit him down. Because he is the coach's son, he is probably held to a higher standard than if he were just another player, avoiding any reason for anyone to say he is playing just because he's the coach's son.
  19. JohnR

    JohnR Member+

    Jun 23, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Kenny Arena got 10 MLS matches under Bob Bradley, 0 under any other coach. Michael Bradley was undrafted before Bob picked him up in a late round, was the only uncapped player brought into the pre-2006 World Cup Camp, and was the only U20 at the Gold Cap.

    Hard to argue that Bob is first to sit down family & friends, when his record is that he's the first to play them.
  20. Martin Fischer

    Martin Fischer Member+

    Feb 23, 1999
    Kampala. Uganda
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Dumbest thread ever.

    You have absolutely nothing to back up this argument -- all you know is that Bradley evaluates players differently than you do and has a different plan for allocating playing time than you do.

    Two responses here. One, Bradley doesn't have to agree with your opinion that Boca and Gooch can't organize a defense. I also seem to remember Demerit and Conrad playing alot for the USMNT this year.

    Right now, Beasley and Bornstein are the best options. Nevertheless, we have seen Spector and Pearce also at left back and Mapp and Convey at left mid. What is it exactly you want? And the Bornstein argument is a little silly at this time since some other left back is going to get the plum chance to impress against Brazil.

    Edu has half a season as a pro. Szetela has been injured and was riding pine for the Crew. Their time has not yet arrived, though a callup for Edu this winter and maybe for Szetela if there is another friendly in Europe might be appropriate. As pointed out, Bradley's time with the USMNT is less than Feilhaber and not much more than Clark and Mastroeni who are the other guys that are at the same basic level.
  21. Maximum Optimal

    Maximum Optimal Member+

    Jul 10, 2001
    There is some validity in the point that callups for Copa and some of the friendlies this year are a less useful guidepost to Bradley's thinking than his player usage for the Gold Cup. After all, the Gold Cup was proclaimed ahead of time as the most important competition of this year. With this in mind, I'm going to analyze and discuss his usage of central midfielders in the Gold Cup below.

    All four of Bradley, Feilhaber, Clark and Mastroeni were on the roster for the Gold Cup. Presumably, the main consideration behind who was played in central mid was which guys maximized our changes of winning the tournament. So it is illuminating to look at how the minutes were apportioned for that tournament.

    One thing that has to be done in analyzing this is to adjust for the fact that Mastroeni was not available for the first two matches (due to his red card suspension from the WC) and Bradley not available for the final (due to his red card against Canada). So the adjustment I made was to look at the minutes played by each player as a percentage of those he was eligible for.

    This shows the following for the Gold Cup: Mastroeni 87%, Bradley 80%, Feilhaber 59%, Clark 26%.

    These numbers strongly suggest that Bob Bradley's first choice pairing for central midfield is Mastroeni and Bradley. This conclusion is reinforced by the fact that those two got almost all of the playing time in the quarter and semi finals of the Gold Cup.

    To his credit, Bradley did bring in Clark for Mastroeni at half-time of the finals against Mexico, a move that many of us thought provided the team with a significant boost. It remains to be seen whether this turn of events has had any lasting effect on how Bradley views the pecking order in central midfield.

    As others have noted, as a club coach he already has one move behind him that suggests a preference for Michael Bradley over Clark in central midfield.

    There are probably a number of possible explanations for his personnel choices in central midfield and elsewhere. My point in the posts I've made in this thread is that one common thread in these personnel choices is that Bob has not yet found a way to impartially evaluate those players he knew and liked from his club days and those he did not had a chance to coach and get to know as well. I've tried to give some context to this by noting similar behavior by other coaches as well as political and business leaders. None of what I have said is meant to imply that Bob is a bad person and does not have the ability to grow and become more even-handed and effective in his evaluations.

    I think those who have noted that a foreign coach would not have these issues (unless he coached Americans in his previous job) have a good point. Of course, this is only one of the many pros and cons that enter into the whole issue of an American or foreign head coach.
  22. stinky

    stinky New Member

    May 14, 2000
    Long Beach, NY
    these numbers are watered down a bit because all 4 of these players were on the field at the same time in some combination or another.

    choosing a pablo and mikey in the midfield is like wearing a belt and suspenders. pablo is history for 2010...he's likely there for leadership for the young guys.

    it's pretty clear to me that bob is giving the job to his son.

    what's more bothersome to me is how guys with no minutes prior to bob's taking over, like mikey and bornstein, got so many minutes (chances) while others didn't.
  23. cyberthoth

    cyberthoth Member

    Nashville SC
    Aug 7, 2000
    Nashville, TN
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Are you serious...Bradley is starting for an EUFA cup team...Szetela has barely been starting for Columbus and Edu is a first year player on a terrible Toronto team. If you can't see why Bradley merits minutes over these guys you clearly need glasses.

    I too like Clark better than Bradley but it should be pretty obvious Bradley will be the better player a year from now...maybe 6 months from now. He's 4 years younger has better ball skills and is playing on a bigger stage.

    As for Feilhaber...well I don't think the two really play the same position and personally I like starting both of them. The Mastro/Bradley bucket formation is another issue altogether than Bradley's Boyz.
  24. Maximum Optimal

    Maximum Optimal Member+

    Jul 10, 2001
    We had a fascinating experiment this summer where Bradley and Szetela played side-by-side in similar roles on the U20 team. I watched these matches very carefully, in some cases taping them and replaying them specifically to watch those two in central midfield. They play somewhat differently, and I would not say that there is a big difference in quality between the two. But my conclusion was that Szetela was slightly better.

    I was not alone in this conclusion. I would invite you to take a look at some of the threads in the Youth National Teams section. More importantly you can also look at the offers Szetela has gotten from teams like Roma, Lazio, Newcastle, Racing Santander. I'm not aware of any similar interest in Bradley. I know he is already with a team in Europe, but if a bigger club wanted him there is nothing preventing them from making an offer. Maybe they did and we don't know about it. Of course, I imagine that Szetela and his agents were more pro-active in soliciting offers. This makes the comparison somewhat unfair. I only offer it because your "are you serious" question makes it seem I am somewhere on another planet for mentioning Szetela and Bradley in the same breath. Well it would seem that people who evaluate talent for a living and have to put money behind those evaluations have a pretty good regard for Szetela.
  25. sidefootsitter

    sidefootsitter Member+

    Oct 14, 2004
    And yet, they were the starting deep midfielders for the Sweden game as well.

    "Hey, look here, kids ... this is how you do the studs-up tackle and get dismissed".

    Is this the leadership you're looking for?

    Mikey Bradley can do these studs-up tackles from behind as well as Pablo.

    And, as I said before, you don't get your "leadership" from the bench players. You get it from the Brett Favres and the Joe Montanas, not from the Steve DeBergs and the Ty Detmers.

    It's pretty effin' clear to everyone.

    The degree of difference is whether Bob's shunning other worthy candidates and I think he is.

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