Gulati: Time to Build on our Experiences
NEW YORK — By extending head coach Bob Bradley's contract a further four years, the U.S. Soccer Federation hopes to build on the national team's experiences and performances of the past four years, federation president Sunil Gulati said on Tuesday.
"I'm very pleased that Bob and I have been able to work out an extension," Gulati told media during a conference call. "We look forward to not only the next four years, but these upcoming games in October."
Bradley's tenure as head coach was seemingly in flux in the weeks following the World Cup, in which the United States won their group before falling in the first knockout round. The team is due to play two friendlies in October before competing in the CONCACAF Gold Cup next summer.
"I certainly believe the work that went into the past four years, the experiences we've had, will really work for us as we put one cycle behind us and we begin the process of the next four years," Bradley said.
Gulati refused to comment on reports that the federation had spoken to former Germany head coach Jurgen Klinsmann last week about replacing Bradley.
Prior to this week's announcement, Bradley had been linked in the media to jobs at English clubs Aston Villa and Fulham.
"The opportunity to coach in Europe is something I would really enjoy," Bradley admitted on Tuesday.
Gulati discussed the danger of the national-team program's growing stale, citing statistics about coaches in charge of teams for a second World Cup qualifying cycle.
"I'm familiar with the statistics about the performance of coaches in a second World Cup they're in," Gulati said. "The obvious statistical bias is that if you're extended, you've very likely done well in the first World Cup, and there's not as much room to go from there.
"We've talked about that, and Bob's aware of that concern, and we think we can manage that."
Bradley added: "It's always a good thing to look hard at what's taken place, really do inventory — the things we've done well, the things we can improve upon — and now put all of those good experiences into a plan and a vision that I believe will take us further in the next four years."
Gulati stressed that next year's Gold Cup remains a priority for U.S. soccer. The winner of the regional tournament earns a berth in the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup.
Under Bradley, the United States won the 2007 Gold Cup and last year finished runners-up in the 2009 Confederations Cup.
"It is absolutely the top priority over the next 12 months," Gulati said. "Bob and his staff will build a program around it. MLS, which will be playing at that time, will be very very supportive, as was the case three years ago, when that was our priority."