Evolution of Bob Bradley’s Managerial Career

Feb 22, 2015; Portland, OR, USA; Stabaek head coach Bob Bradley yells against the Chicago Fire during the second half at Providence Park. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 22, 2015; Portland, OR, USA; Stabaek head coach Bob Bradley yells against the Chicago Fire during the second half at Providence Park. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports /

It’s a big deal. It’s a huge deal. Bob Bradley, an American, coaching in the English Premier League? Finally.

We’ve seen players transfer to the EPL and abroad before. It’s fair to say there has been mixed success, but the ones that have gone well have been incredibly worth it.

Arguably three of the most accomplished players to don the USMNT jersey in the last ten years, Tim Howard, Landon Donovan, and Clint Dempsey, have specifically plied their trade in the English top flight of football at some point in their career.

There’s something to be said about championing the rigorous of the EPL schedule, about understanding that in this league there are no guarantees against any of the weaker sides.

I don’t care what you say about Stoke City being in 19th place. Take them away from home on a typical 45°F December day in Stoke-on-Trent, England and tell me you wouldn’t fear to drop points?

Players are forged from the grind of the EPL. And so too can a manager.

It’s the first opportunity for an American, and it’s evolutionary regarding the implications on US Soccer.

Ryan Giggs was on the short list to become Swansea F.C.’s new manager. He’s got the name; he’s a club legend at United. Resume includes being a player, player-manager, assistant coach and interim manager at Manchester United.

But Swansea decided against Giggs. They cited lack of experience and a lackluster interview.

So they went with Bob Bradley.

I bet Bradley mastered the interview process; he’s been developing, adapting, and amalgamating his managerial skills for the past five years since he left the USMNT. He’s been waiting for his path to come to England.

In terms of experience, Bob Bradley’s resume is a bit different than Giggs; it’s nomadic. It’s an apprenticeship, one that started in Egypt. Managing the Egypt national team developed his managerial maturity when dealing with the media, and issues that went beyond the soccer pitch.

During his tenure, he managed through unrest in the country. An Egyptian Revolution in 2011 mixed in with the suspension of the country’s division one league of soccer due to stadium riots gave rise to a complicated situation. Even if he wanted to stay out of the political eye, the stability of soccer was being directly affected by it.

The majority of his national team players played in the, and at the time, recently suspended Egyptian soccer league. That didn’t’ stop Bradley from guiding Egypt to a six-game perfect start to the 2014 World Cup Qualifiers, before losing a tricky tie with Ghana in the playoffs. He’s actually broken history before. By agreeing to manage Stabæk Fotball he became the first American in charge of a division one club in Europe. Oh, by the way, he helped punch their ticket to the Europa League for the following season.

Qualifying for the Europa League as an American manager is also a first. There’s starting to be a trend here. His stint in Ligue 2 in France with Le Havre AC is the most telling. The ball game is completely different in the lower divisions. Managing a squad with a unique set of resources while trying to gain promotion to division one and keeping a watchful eye on falling farther down the ladder must be daunting. He left the side with a parting gift. A 2-1 victory against Sochaux.

Although for all of his traveling, home, the MLS provides Bradley’s true resume. In the beginning of it all, he started in a sublime position, being named assistant manager to Bruce Arena, another former USMNT head coach, at D.C. United.

Oh yeah, it also happened to be the inaugural year of the MLS.

Here too he was nomadic. A journey through D.C. United, a 1998 expansion team Chicago F.C., a return to his home state through the MetroStars (now known as the New York Red Bulls) and developing youngsters at Chivas USA. Players such Sascha Kljestan got their first chance through Bradley. It just happened to be in the MLS with Chivas USA.

Now Kljestan is breaking records for most assists in a single MLS season at 15 assistants and taking his soccer talents to the highest levels by representing the USMNT. Bob Bradley is simply synonymous with the MLS. His professional career started there, his grass roots soccer philosophy is American. The only difference to his philosophy now is he’s added a thing or two to from leagues all over the world.

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His philosophy has followed a dynamic evolution. And it’s finally time for Bradley to take center stage in England. Why not him?