Bob Bradley to Coach U.S. Soccer Team

Friday, December 8th 2006, 1:05 pm
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ Juergen Klinsmann took himself out of consideration as coach of the U.S. soccer team, a surprising turn of events that led to Chivas USA's Bob Bradley getting the job on an interim basis.

Bradley's appointment was announced Friday by U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati. Bradley also was given the job of coaching the U.S. Under-23 team as it tries to qualify for the 2008 Olympics.

``Bob Bradley's record of success in MLS and in the development of American players gives us great confidence in his ability to begin the process of preparing the U.S. national team for its next four-year programming cycle,'' Gulati said.

Klinsmann, who led Germany to the World Cup semifinals last summer, was the overwhelming favorite for the U.S. job.

``Sunil (Gulati) and I have concluded our discussions about the US men's national team program, and I have withdrawn my name from consideration as coach,'' he said in a statement he e-mailed to the AP on Thursday. ``I'm not going to go into details about our conversations. But, I certainly want to wish the next coach of the U.S. men's national team much success, and I want to, also, thank Sunil for the opportunity to exchange ideas.''

Earlier this week, it appeared the USSF and Klinsmann were moving toward an agreement.

``He was our first choice,'' Gulati said. ``I think it would have been a great situation if we could have made it happen.''

Authority had been as big an issue as money in the talks, a person familiar with the negotiations said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Klinsmann's friend, Bruce Arena, was let go in July after 7 1/2 years. Arena coached the American team to the World Cup quarterfinals in 2002, the best showing by the United States since the initial tournament in 1930. But the U.S. team was eliminated in the first round this year.

A former star forward for Germany's national team, Klinsmann took on the Germany job as his first professional coaching assignment, then quit after the World Cup. He lives in Newport Beach, Calif. _ a close commute to the practice facility in Carson where the Americans often train.

The United States, which hasn't played since it was eliminated from the World Cup in June, opens 2007 with a Jan. 20 exhibition against Denmark at Carson and may meet Mexico on Feb. 7 in the Phoenix area.

Bradley coached 12 years at Princeton before becoming an assistant to Arena at D.C. United in 1996, when he also served as an assistant to the U.S. Olympic team. He moved to the expansion Chicago Fire in 1998, winning the MLS Cup title in his first season.

He returned to his native New Jersey to take over the MetroStars for the 2003 season and remained for nearly three full seasons before he was fired. He quickly returned to MLS, assuming control of Chivas USA before the start of the 2006 season.

He has won more games in MLS (124) than any other coach. Bradley also has won 14 in the postseason.

It remains to be seen whether Bradley would get the job permanently or the USSF would consider other foreign coaches. Jose Pekerman, who coached Argentina at the World Cup, also was among the candidates and Carlos Queiroz, currently a Manchester United assistant, has worked for the USSF in the past. Other coaches with national teams and foreign clubs could become available.

The Americans are in two tournaments next year. They defend their title at the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the championship of North and Central America and the Caribbean, to be played in six U.S. cities from June 6-24. Then they go as an invited guest to the Copa America, the championship of South America, to be played in Venezuela from June 26-July 15.