David Hirshey writes regularly for Deadspin about soccer.
So one of my non-soccer weenie friends called last night to give me what he thought was a surefire Deadspin scoop: The next coach of the U.S. national soccer team will be Bill Bradley.
Ignoring for a moment that it's Bob Bradley, not Bill Bradley, who got the job, this was hardly news — my friend Paul Gardner broke the story ten days ago — let alone the kind of news that was worth pausing the final episode of "Gilmore Girls." Yes, Bob Bradley finally gets to white out the "interim" on his business card and lead the U.S. to greater heights of mediocrity. That should certainly make the Italys of the world crap their pantaloni.
Whatever happened to the "statement" U.S. soccer wanted to make with their new coach? Bruce Arena's eight-year reign had taken the U.S. to the brink of respectability, only to see us tumble from the elite ranks — remember those heady pre-World Cup days when we were No. 5 in the world? — with our sorry-ass performance in Germany. Would it not then have made sense for U.S. Soccer to attempt to restore our international cred and find a successor to Arena whose passport was stamped by something other than MLS cities? Of course.
So for five months, U.S. Soccer gave thousands of American fans serious wood by playing footsie with soccer's savior du jour Jurgen Klinsmann, but in the end they couldn't bury the bratwurst. Then they cast come-hither glances in the direction of former Argentine national coach Jose Pekerman, Manchester United assistant coach Carlos Queiroz, Olympique Lyon coach Gerard Houllier, former Dutch coach Gus Huuddink ... I think my doorman Jose even got a call. Frankly, given the way my HarperCollins team has dominated the Media Soccer League in recent years, I was a little hurt that I didn't get more consideration.
This is not meant to denigrate Bob Bradley, a good guy and a proven winner wherever he's been (except the godawful Metrostars). Certainly, Bradley knows the U.S. talent pool a lot better than any of those big name foreigners, and, given his success with Chivas-USA, maybe he'll even make more than a token attempt to enlarge that pool of middle-class suburban college products and bring in the ever-burgeoning Latino talent that has been willfully ignored for so long. He'll have to do something bold if we want to once again hang with the world's best.
Let's just pray that thinking you can build a global contender around Landycakes is not his master plan.