Last Chance for US influence in the Premier League
Bob Bradley didn’t last as a coach in the English Premier League. The former United States Men’s National Team coach was in charge of Swansea City for merely eleven fixtures this young Premier League season. He was the first American to ever coach in the English Premier League.
Will he be the last?
Bradley was 2–2–7 (wins, ties, losses) while at the helm of the Swans. While in charge, Bradley faced Arsenal (L 3–2), Watford (T 0–0), Stoke City (L 3–1), Manchester United (L 3–1), Everton (T 1–1), Crystal Palace (W 5–4), Tottenham Hotspur (L 5–0), Sunderland (W 3–0), West Brom (L 3–1), Middlesbrough (L 3–0) and West Ham (L 4–1). Bradley didn’t have a chance to spread his coaching to this new level of play. Not that it would have caught on anyways.
We can argue the schedule he faced during his tenure was a tough road especially for an American. An American, who in a world of European soccer, never had a chance to succeed. He faced 4 teams from the top 8 of the Premier League table in his first 7 games, and promptly lost 5 of those games. Bradley was to remain the manager for the rest of the season, that is, until the owner of the Swans fired him. He didn’t last until the January transfer window where he would have a shot at rebuilding the program with the personnel he desired. This move really tells you how Swansea fans were feeling about the Yankee when the sacking occurred. The real kicker is the fact the ownership running the Swansea football club is two American men.
With Bradley out at Swansea, the door slammed shut on any American influence in the most competitive league in the world. Does this mean that American’s are thinking, playing and coaching soccer wrong? According to the rest of the world and Swansea management, yes, yes it does.
What’s worse is this man was the head of the United States Men’s National Soccer program — a program that also contains the Olympic Developmental Program and every facet of U.S. youth soccer development. This lack of leadership has trickled all the way down to our youth, but the MLS is even worse.
Sure, the MLS is up and coming, but look at the facts, people. With the way it is currently managed, the U.S. isn’t a soccer country yet and never will be at this rate. Most of the US men’s national team players ‘compete’ in the MLS still and that creates a problem.
The bright side is, that problem can be solved with a few directional adjustments.
The direction to head in is getting experience. Bob Bradley wasn’t the right man to coach in the Premier League. His track record wasn’t good enough. Especially not good enough to put him in a position to turn around a Swansea team that was going to get relegated before the season even started. If anything can change, it’s how the U.S. tactically and skillfully plays the game of soccer. Players like Christian Pulisic, Bobby Wood, Geoff Cameron, John Brooks, Deandre Yedlin, and Timothy Chandler playing against competition they will see in the World Cup is how the U.S. gets better.
We might not see another American coach in the Premier League any time soon, but as an American who loves the sport, I’m completely fine with that. We need a bigger change than that. American players have to be willing to come out of their shell. Play against real competition, consistently, passionately and knowledgably.
For the first time in what feels like forever, the U.S. program actually has a player to be a savior. Christian Pulisic is 18 years old and on the verge of joining Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool squad by being transferred from Borussia Dortmund. If you’re an American soccer enthusiast right now you have to be thrilled with the skill this kid brings to the table. He’s only getting started. Even Geoff Cameron is playing for Stoke City in the Premier League and has been consistent under Mark Hughes. There HAS to be more of this in the very near future.
Bob Bradley might have been the last chance to get an American coaching in the English Premier League but it certainly won’t be the last time you hear about young players making their mark on a league that can change the competitive nature of a player, a program and a country.