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Thursday, July 1, 2010
Bradley wants to remain U.S. coach

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Bob Bradley says he'd be "honored" to remain the U.S. soccer coach, and he expects a decision in three to four weeks.

Bradley told The Associated Press on Thursday he had "a very good first conversation" with federation president Sunil Gulati before leaving the World Cup. Bradley plans to meet with U.S. Soccer CEO Dan Flynn next week.

"I would simply say that we need time," Bradley said. "Time to talk. Time to think a little bit."

Hired in December 2006, Bradley's contract runs through the end of the year. He led the Americans to the top of their group for the first time in 80 years. But with the team in good position to reach the semifinals, the U.S. lost 2-1 to Ghana in overtime in the first round of the knockout stage.

Gulati said Monday that "I think the team is capable of more."

"We're proud of the work and the results, and we stand behind that," Bradley said of his coaching staff. "As this four-year cycle ends and a new one begins, we're pleased that regardless of decisions going forward that the work in this four years will pay off in the next four years."

Bradley said he was satisfied with the team's World Cup preparations over those last four years -- from scheduling matches against difficult opponents to the luminaries who addressed the squad before it played in South Africa. Speakers included NBA Hall of Famer Bill Russell and Dan Jollota, the helicopter pilot involved in the events depicted in the movie "Black Hawk Down."

One obvious goal for the next four years is to improve at scoring goals. The U.S. didn't get any from their forwards in South Africa. In his first World Cup, 20-year-old striker Jozy Altidore created chances but couldn't capitalize.

"He still can improve in terms of his pure finishing," Bradley said.

Bradley likes to say that as the level of competition increases, "the window is smaller and the window closes faster." Learning to score through that window takes experience.

Altidore had an excellent opportunity for a go-ahead goal against Ghana but missed.

"He did so well to put himself in a goal-scoring position," Bradley said. "Over time he'll just understand that in those spots you have a little more time and you don't have to rush anything. That ability to take that chance calmly and finish it, that's a sign of experience."

Altidore scored just two goals for Premier League club Hull this past season and has struggled to find consistent playing time at Europe's highest level.

"When you're a forward, it becomes really important that you are someone that can consistently score for your club team," Bradley said. "That gives confidence. I think that Jozy needs to find a club situation where week in and week out he's on the field and they're counting on him for big goals."

Bradley is picking Brazil to win the World Cup, and he knows the Americans have a ways to go to match that powerhouse in fielding players who combine superior physicality, athleticism and skill.

The buzz of a successful World Cup run by the U.S. can only encourage more elite athletes to focus on soccer, Bradley said. The sport would gain an even bigger boost if the country wins its bid to host the World Cup in 2018 or 2022.

"A young player might look at a player like Jozy Altidore or a goalkeeper like Timmy Howard and see them playing for the United States in the World Cup and think that's what they want to do," Bradley said. "That type of vision is really the starting point for great athletes in all sports, and we're seeing more of that in soccer than ever."