World Cup is a Bradley family affair

By A. James Memmott

June 17, 2010 at 10:42am

There are Bradleys aplenty at the World Cup soccer matches in South Africa.

Bob Bradley is the head coach of the U.S. team that plays Slovenia Friday. His players include his son, Michael, a starting midfielder on the squad.

And Bob’s reporter brother Jeff is in South Africa writing on the tournament for ESPN the magazine.

Their other brother, Scott, is a sporting figure in his own right, having played baseball in the major leagues for 11 seasons.

“The Bradleys have become among the most prominent American sporting families,” wrote Ronald Blum of the Associated Press in a World Cup preview story.

For the duration of the tournament, it will be Bob Bradley who gets the most media attention, if only because the decisions of coaches at the World Cup are endlessly debated.

Things started well enough last Saturday when Bradley’s team emerged with a 1-1 tie against the favored England.

A native of New Jersey, Bradley, 52, played soccer for Princeton University. He then briefly took part in a Proctor & Gamble training program before becoming head coach at Ohio University in 1981 at age 22.

He was an assistant coach at the University of Virginia from 1983 to 1984, working under head coach Bruce Arena, a man who would become his mentor and advocate.

In 1984, Bradley became head coach at Princeton serving in that position until 1996 when he again became an assistant to Arena, then the coach of D.C. United in the professional Major League Soccer as well as the U.S. Olympic team.

Bradley was then head coach for three Major League Soccer teams, the Chicago Fire, the MetroStars and Chivas U.S.A.

In 2006, he became interim head coach of the U.S. national team, succeeding Arena, who had been head coach since 1998. The “interim” was removed from his title the following May.

Bradley got the job after Jurgen Klinsmann, the former star German player and the coach of Germany’s 2006 World Cup team, turned the position down.

Somewhat dour in appearance, Bradley is noted for his no-nonsense style. “He’ll tell you exactly what he’s thinking, whether you like it or not,” Clint Dempsey of the U.S. team, told The New York Times.

This year’s U.S. team qualified for the World Cup without problems. And it is generally predicted that it will advance out of the group-stages to be one of the 16 teams in the quarterfinals.

The U.S. plays Slovenia Friday and Algeria Wednesday to complete the group stage. The two teams with the best records in the four-team group go on to the quarterfinals.

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