Early last week, the New York Times Goal Blog contacted USSF President Sunil Gulati by e-mail to address the status of U.S. Men’s National Team Coach Bob Bradley. Bradley has been under hot water after a disappointing performance in this years Gold Cup tournament, capped off by an absolute dismantling at the hands of Mexico in the Final, 4-2. Since that time, as evidenced on this very page, people have been clamoring for the head of the coach who is now six months into his second World Cup cycle as the Men’s boss.
In a rather curt response, Gulati replied to the Time’s inquiry, stating, “We’ll have something to say later this week.” That was Tuesday, June 26th. By Friday, Gulati did have something to say; he wrote a lengthy open letter to U.S. soccer fans exposing his disgust with the behavior of the Mexican fans attending the Gold Cup Final.
Bradley’s name wasn’t mentioned once.
The only inkling of Bradley’s continued relationship with the Federation came in the USSF announcement of September’s friendly matches against Belgium and Costa Rica, where the current Men’s coach was quoted as saying that these games would be “another great opportunity to continue the building process as we move towards the start of 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying.”
How does one read this situation? American soccer’s leadership and brain trust has been radio silent from the moment the final whistle blew at the Rose Bowl. Not even turbulent international waves created by Tim Howard’s post game Gold Cup presentation rant could drag the Federation out for a statement.
In fact, the only evidence of a move forward simply stems from an electronic exchange between a respected reporter in Jack Bell, and the man who pulls all the strings for U.S. Soccer. The statement, as ambiguous as it may be, ignited a nation wide guessing game; does Sunil mean Bradley is out, or will he stand by his coach once more? One simply doesn’t let out this type of information to a mainstream and respected news organization without having the thoughts or intentions to make an announcement, do they?
Perhaps in responding to Jack Bell, Gulati neglected to note the extended holiday weekend, thus changing his plans for an announcement. Maybe he doesn’t want to overshadow the Women’s World Cup with news on the Men’s side. No matter the circumstances, you can’t expect to quietly ignore the issue in order for it to go away.
U.S. Soccer is not the foremost sporting organization in this country, but it shouldn’t act like it’s minor league. If there is a change coming, strike while the fire is hot and let people know that the program is taking a different direction. If they are once again backing Bradley for this Cup cycle, why not say so to end the uncertainty that has surrounded this side?
Right now, the American fan base, much like the current MNT, is in a state of limbo. Don’t make it worse by making promises you do not intend to keep.