In Interim, U.S. Coach Bradley Has Until June

Bob Bradley
On Friday, Bob Bradley the coach of Major League Soccer's Chivas USA, was named interim coach of the U.S. national team. (Bill Kostroun - AP)
By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 9, 2006

Bob Bradley will oversee the U.S. men's soccer training camp next month in California. He will guide the national team in a friendly against Denmark on Jan. 20 and in a soon-to-be-finalized match against Mexico a couple weeks later.

Come June, however, Bradley may have to step aside for a foreign coach.

Bradley, a former University of Virginia and D.C. United assistant who has spent the last nine years as an MLS head coach, was named the interim U.S. coach yesterday after negotiations between the U.S. Soccer Federation and Juergen Klinsmann ended this week.

Bradley, 48, also was named coach of the Olympic squad, a position he will keep even if he does not retain the national team job.

"It comes across a little bit as a foregone conclusion that someone new will be coming in. Honestly, I don't feel that way," said Bradley, who, upon accepting the USSF positions, resigned as coach of MLS's Chivas USA. "Having been in this country, having coached so many of our players over the years, having been part of MLS and the youth programs, I have advantages others don't have. I want to make sure that those things count and that, in the six months, shows in the play of our team, and we see where that takes us."

Although USSF President Sunil Gulati said he expects Bradley to be among the finalists for the long-term job, he seems to face long odds.

Gulati plans to interview several foreign candidates who would not be able to accept an offer until the European club seasons end in May. Gulati declined to identify them, but Manchester United assistant Carlos Queiroz, former Argentina World Cup coach Jose Pekerman and Gerard Houllier, coach of French champion Lyon, are believed to be on the list.

"Bob and I have had a very frank conversation about what those probabilities are," Gulati said of Bradley's chances. "We've said all along we wanted somebody who was highly experienced and capable of leading our national team through the next four years, and Bob is in that group."

Gulati declined to say what caused the breakdown with Klinsmann but dismissed reports that it stemmed from Klinsmann's demand for power beyond coaching responsibilities.

"He's an extraordinarily gifted coach," Gulati said. "I think it would've been a great situation if we could've made it happen."

Klinsmann, 42, had been widely viewed as a perfect candidate because of his affection for U.S. soccer and American culture -- he lives with his family in Huntington Beach, Calif. -- and his energy and openness to innovation.

Meantime, with Bradley out at Chivas USA, D.C. United assistant Tom Soehn and Chivas assistant Preki have emerged as candidates for the head coaching job.

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