June 26, 2010


World Cup: U.S. Coach Bob Bradley is a steely leader: He has won over the team's players with his knowledge and game preparation, even if he hasn't been a public relations marvel. (Grahame L. Jones, June 25, 2010, LA Times)

There are no rumblings of discontent among the players and U.S. Soccer seems more than pleased with what the gaunt, shaven-headed and icy-eyed man from Montclair, N.J., has achieved.

His players, perhaps doubters at first, are now among his staunchest allies.

"Bob has a very distinct way of doing things and some people like it and some don't," Landon Donovan said the other day at the U.S. base camp.

"I think it's taken a long time for a lot of us to wrap our heads around what exactly Bob wanted from us, and now we all understand why he put us through some of the things he put us through and why he challenged us the way he did.

"He could see the big picture from the beginning, while a lot of us were shortsighted."

Instilling self-belief in his players and belief in the system has been crucial to Bradley's success.

So, too, has been his willingness to study the sport in depth. Very few Americans watch as much soccer as Bradley does. He intently studies the game at the highest level, and knows the quirks and foibles of the leading characters, whether players or coaches.

"I think he's right up there with the best coaches in terms of tactics," U.S. forward Jozy Altidore said. "I haven't been in a game where I haven't been well-prepared going into it. He analyzes the opponent really well, the key players, what they do, their tendencies. I think he does a great job in that respect."

...he needs to do two big things: first, watch other sports--basketball, football, and hockey--to see how they utilize space; and, two, watch soccer games with the best coaches from those other sports--Bill Belichick, Bill Parcells, Norm Chow, Monte Kiffen, Tex Winter, Pete Carrill, Jacques Lemaire--so they can show him how to analyze the field, strategy and tactics free of the clutter of soccer's stultified traditional methods.

There's no fluff with Bob Bradley (Wayne Drehs, 7/09/10, ESPN.com)

Ask him something probing about himself and Bradley won't ramble that he is too competitive or intense. Instead, silence fills the room. Thirty seconds. A minute. Ninety seconds. Two minutes.


"Growing up," he says, "things ... "

He stops. Twenty-eight more seconds go by.

"Umm," he continues. "Probably that I could ... "

He stops again.

He is this way with everything in life. Every movement, action, decision -- it is all scripted, all with a purpose. With Bradley, there is no fluff. His personality mirrors his chiseled face. There are no extra chins, no puffy cheeks. The veins bulging on the side of his temples carry blood to and from the brain. The piercing blue eyes recessed in his head slice through any and all incoming B.S. And every single neuron that fires does so with one purpose: To simply be the best. At everything.

He doesn't smoke, doesn't drink and doesn't put unhealthy food in his 52-year-old body. His handshake is firm, his stare ultra-serious. He refers to his brutally honest one-on-one meetings with players not as face-to-face but rather man-to-man. Intense, focused, driven. Yes. All of it. It's as if he graduated from West Point.

"He strikes people like a force of nature," says Princeton religion professor Jeffrey Stout, who met Bradley at the Ivy League school more than three decades ago. "There are other people who care about the truth, who are intense, who understand what it means to be a man and build a team. There are other people who care about their players and their families and the communities in which they live.

"But I can't think of anybody who cares as relentlessly and passionately as he does. There just aren't many people like him."

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 26, 2010 7:28 AM
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