U.S. men's soccer coach Bob Bradley last week received a contract extension through 2014, allowing him the chance to build on his team's round-of-16 run at the recent World Cup. Bradley has done an adequate job over the past four years, but second acts are rare for coaches in international soccer—and are rarely successful. Here are three changes he must seriously consider over the next four years:
• Don't rely too much on veterans.
One big factor in the recent second-act letdowns of coaches like Marcello Lippi (Italy) and Bruce Arena (U.S.) was an overreliance on old vets. Bradley will have to be ruthless in dropping some players who have helped him over the years.
• Know when to ease off.
Bradley is a famously hard-driving coach, but he can't grind too much on his players, who need some pressure-release valves in the day-to-day training environment.
• Be more flexible with his starting lineups.
Bradley made five substitutions at halftime or earlier in the U.S.'s four World Cup games—admissions of mistakes in his original lineups—yet he opted not to give midfielder Benny Feilhaber (+3 during his time on the field) a single start. Tactical flexibility will be a key to improving on the U.S.'s performance at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
KEVORK DJANSEZIAN/GETTY IMAGES (BRADLEY)
BOB THE BUILDER The American taskmaster must ease off a bit in order to move forward.