Not a Good Performance Evaluation

The AP headline is:  “US soccer pres: We failed to meet expectations.”  There’s not much else in the story, apart from a statement that Sunil Gulati “will likely meet with Bob Bradley to “discuss the coach’s future.”  I expect it lies somewhere other than head coach of the national team.

What baffles me is the US team’s strange combination of never-say-die spirit and tactical naivety.  I can only infer that Bradley was excellent at melding the former and weak on the latter.  His player selection for the match against Ghana brought gasps and howls in this household, as I expect it did across the country, and his first two substitutions were an admission of a horrible mistake.  One that will mark the end of his reign, I suppose.

Speaking of mistakes, the failure to award a goal to England when they were 2-1 down to Germany reaches the level of Edu’s disallowed goal in the Slovenia match.  This mistake, however, is easily correctable with existing technology, refs behind the goal as deployed in the UEFA Europa League, or a challenge and review system.  Any of three feasible policies could have corrected this error!  Not a good performance evaluation there, either.  I believe FIFA’s “no reviews” policy is a calculated, cynical choice to maximize publicity on the theory that controversy gets people talking and puts the game “in their system.”  It will be interesting to follow the TV ratings now that the US has made its premature exit from the tournament.  Ratings have been high to date, but will the American public tune in to a classic match like Germany-Argentina next Saturday?

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Author: Skip Sauer

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FIFA, Soccer, World Cup

10 thoughts on “Not a Good Performance Evaluation”

  1. Sunil Gulati never really wanted Bob Bradley as the head coach of the US nation team. His first pick was Juergen Klinsmann after the 2006 World Cup but the negotiations fell through. Bradley was to be a temporary coach, but after winning 10 straight games Gulati was stuck with him.

    Bradley won the Gold Cup to send the US to the confederations tournament in South Africa. The US came in second place after Brazil in the confederations final; defeating Spain on the way. The US won the CONCACAF region edging out Mexico. The US exited the first round of the World Cup winning group C over England and not suffering a single defeat in group play.

    But Bradley has losted to Ghana and now Gulati can hire his foreign coach to lead the US. Did Bradley do everything right? I don’t think so, but Bradley racked up a heck of a winning record for the US. Let’s hope the next US coach can be as successful as Bradley.

  2. Two comments. One, could someone who is more technologically savvy than me explain why FIFA cannot use the same technology that tennis uses to determine if a ball was in or out?

    Two, I would keep Bob Bradley if he promises never to use the 4-4-2 alignment. This team could not build attacks out of this alignment. Further, the US never dominated during qualifying. Every game seemed too close for comfort. Find a coach who can teach players to score without benefit of a set play.

  3. Klinsmann would have been an outstanding choice…he’s been a World Cup and world class performer. He understands what it is to be around the best. Bradley is a competent coach..nothing more. He’s what passes for acceptable in US soccer..he has licensing and is earnest (and innocuous)! Almost NO imagination…bereft of any idea what it takes to tactically outmaneuver the opponent while having less. His striker selections were abysmal.

    I see very little that makes him anything more than the next head coach of the Columbus Crew. Remember the slogan 2 World Cups ago? I thought’s been politely ignored. 2010 was pumped by USSF as the year that the Youth Development program in the US produced a Cup Champion!

    Great Cup teams and world class players start at the U-17 to U-21 level..The US picks young men who are workaholic little midfielders….we are credible. Period. USSF needs a makeover…..

  4. Football/soccer without USA playing, will be like golf without Tiger Woods and US ratings will certainly be down . Vuvuzelas have already hurt US TV ratings.
    FIFA felt there was a cultural need to allow that “phony” plastic horn that cost $1.00 to manufacture, yet was sold for a minimum of $10-$12 each.
    What is FIFA going to do when the WORLD CUP IS played in the USA, where our culture calls for “Rockets, red glare “?? Will they allow the fans to bring in their fireworks??
    FIFA, wake up and smell the coffee!!!

  5. Bradley’s been fine, we simply don’t have the players. We have some really good ones, but only about five of them. Nonetheless, now is a good time for a change if a good replacement is interested in the job .

    It will be interesting to see the TV numbers. Soccer now has Olympic status for many Americans- they really enjoy it every four years. As a soccer nut, I’m glad of that. What slightly concerns me is that the best quality soccer- the UEFA Champions League and other European club football- is largely ignored by casual fans. I really enjoy the World Cup but much of the soccer is not that high a standard. Perhaps Donovan going to Manchester City would be a good thing, despite the loss to the MLS.

  6. Nice post Skip,

    As an Aussie who is somewhat late to the party in enjoying soccer, it really baffles me how FIFA consistently shoots itself in the foot by remaining so defiant in their antiquated ways. If they just made some subtle tweaks to the review process, they’d capture those fans who want to like soccer but just can’t stomach the unfairness that arrives when a crucial call (or non call) goes the wrong way. Lampard’s disallowed goal against Germany was simply farcical. As was the disallowed US goal against Slovenia.

    No sport is perfect; heaven forbid soccer is not. The low scores and seemingly the dismissive “that’s the way it’s always been” attitude of FIFA is ridiculous. If they decided that a modicum of fairness should be added to the game, I think even the most ardent soccer skeptic would get on board. Now that would truly be a World Game, not just a bandwagon to jump on once every four years.

  7. Well here’s a performance evaluation on Mr. Gulati….You’re the one who gave Bradley this team. Gulati is responsible for the Youth Development program that hasn’t produced a single striker that’s scored a goal at a World Cup Match in 12 years…..

    Is Bradley mediocre? Absolutely..Is Gulati mediocre? No. He’s well below mediocre. There’s probably not more than 2 or 3 Coaches in the World..anywhere..who could have taken the US one more round..There are many more than that who might have made the US Team more exciting and a greater force to reckon with. Bottom line…USSF is responsible. Not all the Coaches who’ve come and gone trying to make do with players that came thru a process they had little control over…..

  8. I gave the US a 50-50 chance of making it to the knockout stage, so I disagree with Gulati’s statement that the team “failed to meet expectations.” Kudos to them, and to Bradley for a stirring (though flawed) performance.

    Nevertheless, although Bradley’s options were not ideal, I’m with those who believe he blew it with his team selection on Saturday. We were competitive with a good Ghana team, and had a chance against Uruguay had we not made defensive mistakes. The limit for this team, thanks to a favorable draw, was the semis, imo.

  9. To the extent one believes in the FIFA Rankings, the U.S. was ranked 14th going into the World Cup. Based on that number we should have been expected to make it into the round of 16 but not into the round of 8. Objectively, it looks like we performed exactly to reasonable expectations.

  10. The other thing that a lack of review process allows is the bribery of referees.

    I have seen little comment on the gesture made by New Zealand captain Ryan Nelson to the Guatemalan referee upon his award to Italy of an extremely soft penalty. He rubbed his thumb and forefinger together to suggest that the referee had been paid off. Certainly Italian football is corrupt (see the 2006 match fixing scandals), and I myself have had to bribe Guatemalan border officials to be allowed to cross into and out of their country in open corruption that is endemic there.

    That is not to say that Ryan Nelson was correct in his assertion, but a review process would make it more difficult for a referee to be paid off, and then have a player fall down in the box under the softest of contact and a penalty awarded.

    Here is the penalty if you didn’t see it, although whoever posted this video edited out as unimportant where Ryan Nelson made the gesture (while the referee was placing the ball on the penalty spot).

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