This is a special episode. My guest is former USMNT head coach Bob Bradley.
A friend of mine, Liviu Bird, helped me connect with Bob. After a few weeks of short messages and trying to lock down a time, Bob and I finally linked up on Skype and spent about an hour discussing some of the major events that have happened during his coaching career.
It was mid-morning here in California where I’m from. It was early evening in France where Bob had just returned home from a training session.
The interview starts off kind of awkwardly. I usually conduct a short pre-interview with all of my guests before we officially start recording. I always ask a few warm-up questions to check the audio levels, get a feel for what kind of mood they are in, and I always ask if there are any topics that are off limits.
But as you’ll hear, Bob jumps right into the thick of things with detailed answers. So we never really did a pre-interview. And instead of slowing him down, I just let it go. And Bob just kept flowing.
Before I knew it, we were talking about the violence and protests happening in Egypt during his time as head coach of their national team. We were knee deep into what it was like to be eliminated by Ghana as the coach of two different nations in two major international tournaments. The conversation eventually cycled back to square one when I asked Bob if he had always been a leader and we talked a bit about his formative years. And towards the end of our chat he gives some great advice for all aspiring coaches.
This is a special episode. I never thought I’d get the chance to interview someone like Bob. And the goal is to keep building and growing this podcast. I appreciate each and every one of you for listening and sharing.
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I’ve added this podcast to my rotation. I enjoy it. Nicely done.
I like the pro/reg argument and agree it has consequences. But, I think the key thing holding soccer back in the U.S. is popularity.
In your conversation with Phil Schoen he tried to make a case that that’s not an issue. Obviously, the popularity is growing. It’s a much different sport in the U.S. than when Lalas was playing (another nice conversation). But, it isn’t there yet.
Schoen’s points relied mainly on sheer numbers. Yes, a lot of folks watch and “play” soccer in the U.S. (but still a tiny fraction of more traditional American sports) and the play is mostly formal, not informal.
I think the other way to look at is popularity relative to other countries. The USWNT does well because the popularity of soccer among women in the US meets or beats soccer’s popularity among women in other countries.
Popularity of soccer among men in the US pales relative to the soccer-playing world. That’s supported by this site’s statements about the soccer playing culture in the US. It’s gaining ground for sure. But it has a ways to go.
I don’t believe the pro/reg structure in other countries exists as a feature that was dictated from the top-down to produce high-level talent. I believe it exists because football is so damn popular and there are so many clubs that are competitive in those countries, that it was a feature that emerged to help sort the clubs out.
We don’t have that level of popularity yet. As Gary mentioned in another post, the MLS academy teams need better competition. Why? Because popularity isn’t there yet.
One sign of popularity will be seeing more kids playing on their own trying to emulate their heros.
I personally think that while soccer popularity is heading in the right direction, things that will help it along most are things that get kids to fall in love with the ball at an early age.
One thing I think would be good is more public futsal courts. You don’t need to maintain the grass, have perfect weather or get a ton of people together to get a game going.