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Bradley discusses friendlies, fullbacks and more

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Bob Bradley has plenty to do in the coming weeks and months, between selecting his 23-man World Cup roster and plotting the course for that team to get ready for the tournament. Those preparations continue tonight with the United States' friendly vs. El Salvador in Tampa.

Bradley spoke on Tuesday about a variety of topics, including the U.S. team's upcoming friendlies and the progress of two of the team's top fullbacks, Jonathan Bornstein and Jonathan Spector.

"Czech Republic and Turkey are good opponents with some similarities with teams that we’ll play, with players that we’ll play against," Bradley said of the national team's opponents for friendlies in May.

"It gives us an opportunity to have two games in the U.S., and then when we get to South Africa we’ll see if there’s another possibility for us.

“Whether it’s closed door, whether its open, how we do that is not clear, but I think the hope for sure is that we’ll be able to get there, have a few days to get acclimatized and then get a good dry run in there before we play England."

Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl is reporting that Australia is an option being considered for the friendly/scrimmage in South Africa. In 2006, the United States played Angola in a pre-World Cup scrimmage in Germany.

Bradley also discussed the recent form of left back Jonathan Bornstein, who he believes has shown steady improvement in recent months.

“It’s been a good stretch there," Bradley said of Bornstein's recent form. "If you look at his career, that first year everything went great, but then sometimes the second year there’s little details that you have to go back and cover. I think he’s matured a lot and he has shown that he gets in difficult games and he competes well.

"Athletically he’s quick, for his size he’s good in the air, so you always know when Jonny’s on the field he’s going to give you everything he has."

Another fullback Bradley discussed is Jonathan Spector. A regular at right back for the national team, Spector has seen a recent successful run at left back for West Ham, a development that adds more versatility to a defender who figures to play a key role for the United States at the World Cup.

"He’s comfortable on both sides," Bradley said. " Obviously one of the things that he’s been able to do when he plays right back is, he’s not so much a guy who delivers crosses by getting very deep, but when he’s a little bit back more he has played some very good balls in, (like) the ball that Clint scored, both against Egypt and Brazil (in the Confederations Cup).

"That’s a little bit different from the other side of the field. I think that’s not as much a factor, but the comfort level is there. When we talked about games that I saw, I saw West Ham play Blackburn. I thought on the field, in terms of his positioning and his passing from the left side, he did well. "He’s still enough of a two-footed player that when he has to play with his left he can.

"It’s great that he’s been playing and its nice that we’ve got the versatility, and then you can add in that we used him in both matches in November as a centerback so I think those things are really helpful."

Bradley hasn't had much free time this year. He ran the U.S. team's January training camp before embarking on a trip to Europe to watch and meet with several of the national team's top players.

"You don’t have that much time before we’re all together in May so it was good to sit and talk," Bradley said. "It was a lot of the veteran players. It was Jay DeMerit, Clint Dempsey, Jonathan Spector, Timmy Howard and Landon, so it was a really good chance to sit with those guys, talk about some of the things we’ve been through together and make sure that we’re ready to go."

Bradley also addressed the possibility of facing Argentina in a friendly in the near future after word surfaced that the South Americans were set to play a series of friendlies in the United States. He stated that he wouldn't mind facing Argentina again, and pointed to the strength of the national team's schedule during the current World Cup cycle.

"Everyone knows that I don’t specifically make the schedule but I’m part of the process, and in the last cycle you look at the games that we’ve been able to play and the type of opponents," Bradley said. "We’ve played Argentina twice in that period of time. Now we’ve played Brazil a good number of times, so these kind of games help us.

"I think the improvement in our team and our growth, our readiness for Confederations Cup and the final round of (World Cup) qualifying had a lot to do with the type of schedule that we’ve played over the last few years."


  1. This is actually a decent point, though I’d give the edge to Heath Pearce right now. Boca isn’t a realistic LB option as far as i’m concerned, and Spector is the #1 RB.

  2. Ok, you must not remember the 18 goal Cooper scored in 2008. You must not remember the goals he has scored for team USA in VERY LiIMITED playing time as a sub. Give the guy a chance. He is much better than Casey or Ching.

  3. john o brien will solve everything

    he can solve the economic crisis, health care reform, and take us to the semifinals of the world cup

    o john how we miss u

  4. honestly…none of our 3 left back options are great…bornstein spector (oh wow he starts in the premier league eventhough he gets torched on a consistent basis by speedy skilled wingers!) or bocanegra…we just gotta get lucky that whoever we put there plays well…this is why id like to try castillo there to see what he has…cause if theyre all gonna suck at least we can have someone who can offer a threat going forward

  5. ——Perkins—–




    K man

    I figure BB will probably start K man tho and McCarty on late but this is what I would like to see this evening. Also doubt Cameron will actually get the nod at RB but maybe at CB??

  6. Bradley played fine. He won plenty of balls, hustled and did his normal thing. He’s not Frank Lampard.

    The Ref was horrible in that game and blew a couple calls that led to makeup calls for Hoffenheim at the end.

  7. TimN

    I actually agreed with him and conceded his point. Boca is not good enough for left back either. Not technical on the ball, getting slower.

    Starting to see the pattern of US players?

  8. fischy,

    I’ve never said anything in this thread about Spector playing left back. I think he is best suited for right back with Cherundolo.

    If you noticed the USSF elections and how Gulati got elected unopposed, you will see what’s wrong with the US national landscape. A guy like Bornstein keeps getting looks over plays in other leagues because MLS needs those players to stay here.

    They can point to the MLS players like Ching, Casey, Bornstein etc who keep making the teams although they are clearly not good enough as a way of saying “look, play in MLS, you will play for the Nats.”

    What about players like Simek? Whitebread? Grella? Shouldn’t they get a look at any point? Simek last I remember won the Gold Cup in ’07?

  9. Since Wynne is only RB on roster, one question I would have asked, does Bradley see Wynne as 2nd or 3rd choice RB for SA. The answer would have told us much more about Bradley than senseless chit-chat. Another question would have been his selection of Conrad for the Honduras match. Does he see it as ‘his mistake’ one that hurt the entire team.

  10. I think we will exploit ourselves against Slovenia… meaning that we won’t be able to break the bunker in front of their goal they will put up.

    Of all of these games I am most confident about beating England of all teams. We don’t play well against slick passing teams or bunker style teams.. See Slovakia and even Honduras.

  11. I’d like to see Bocanegra and Spector as the outside backs against England. Their movement as a back line was impressive. Against Algeria and Slovenia, Bornstein is the best option going forward at the left back position.

  12. Um, NO. I don’t think he has progressed much as a player since last summers Confederations Cup. He made plenty of blunders in world Cup Qualifying AFTER that tourney.

    Against Honduras he was the most experienced player on the field for the Nats so of course he looked better than everyone else around him. That team was dog awful.

  13. He didn’t look bad against Honduras, but he did in no way look composed or calm. There were multiple times where all Bornstein had to do is tap the ball back to howard or play the ball to his nearest defender, but instead he tried to turn and as a resulted ended up clearing the ball right back to the other team. Bornstein cannot hold possession at all. When he goes up the field he looks lost, and his touch is in fact worse than almost every other national team player in the pool. His touch might be better than Casey, Onyewu, and Howard’s; but I would not say it’s better than anyone else’s.

    I would say that Bornstein has become a better player than he was, but he is still not on par with Spector or Cherundolo. I would personally like to see pearce get some more time to see what he can do.

  14. I agree. In the Honduras away game, he looked good as well. I think the knock on him is that he’s not someone who takes people on all that well and his crosses are meh. People also forget that Bornstein has incredibly powerful shot and is about as close to two footed as you can get. Remember how in the Gold Cup Final he got down the flank and then fired a right-footed shot that had beaten Sanchez and looked like it had gone in from the FSC camer angle, but had actually skimmed the outside of the post. I think that if Bornstein went to Europe, he’d probably be the best left back in the pool, but he’d need a consistent season first. He might be farther along if his 2008 season wasn’t injury bitten.

  15. Bornstein is the 2010 version of Jeff Agoof. He’s a major f’up waiting to happen. My prediction: Own goal against England, he gives up a penalty against Algeria and is burned for 2 goals against Algeria and mercifully substituted in the first half. Mirror image of Jeff Agoof from WC 2002.

  16. Bornstein is ok as a backup, but as a starter he ceratinly will be the weak link. That is where I would have my team attack. I hope he proves me wrong.

  17. So you don’t think he’s grown as a player since last years, confederation cup? You don’t think he understands now how to play agianst that upper echelon talent? Personally vs Honduras Borenstein lookd ten fold better than everyone around him, he looked calm and didn’t get rattled, because of the experience he has gained, I wouldn’t say he’s bad in posession since he started as a forward and has a good touch. Personally, I think its too late to tinker with the backline.

  18. Yeah, that’s what I want to know. Why was Omar Gonzales left off?

    (SBI-Just going out on a limb here but it could be that Bradley saw Gonzalez in training and decided he wasn’t ready yet.)

  19. He certainly tried to that. Or, more to the point, he followed Rooney inside and left Valencia unmarked, when he should have passed off Rooney to a CB. He did the same thing earlier, when Gibson got an open chance at the top of the box, but Green saved the shot.

  20. I just watched the video and I would have to say it is Bradley’s fault. If you watch he is closest to the goal scorer but is caught completely ball watching. I hate to say it cause I really like Bradley but he seemed to be most at fault for that goal.

  21. Sounds like Coach B just talked to the guys playing in England. Should he have included Altidore in this group? Too young for leadership?

    Got my seats for May 29 in Sec 118.

  22. Did you see the way Man United torched Spector out on the left flank yesterday? There’s no unbeatable option. I understand those who want Cherundolo in the lineup — and thus want Spector on the left — but I think Spector is the better choice on the right flank. It’s a tough call. I don’t think Bornstein over Spector generally — I’d like to see them both play….but then you lose ‘Dolo. Tough call.

  23. how about that Landon Donovan fella? he’s not awful. and last I checked, is under contract to MLS and a member of the MLSPA. Think we can take England without him? or do you think he’s a scab?

  24. Great point about the 2nd CR goal, but Erik won’t see it that way…when you view somebody through a certain filter, they will never do anything except be a failure.

    You could maybe argue Bocanegra over Bornstein, but his PT at Rennes has taken a nose dive lately.

    The back line in SA as I see it:

    LB: Bornstein (possibly Bocanegra)

    CB: Oneywu

    CB: DeMerit

    RB: Spector (possibly Cherundolo)

  25. agree with you about cooper. Soccer is a team game and if you don’t help the team and only help yourself than you are worthless for the national team.

    I personally haven’t seen enough out of Casey to put him ahead of Ching, but Ching is getting old. I think we will get a good indicator this game as both Ching and Cooper should get some playing time.

  26. This comment my be irrelevant if Cherundolo does not recover from injury in time for the world cup, but to answer your question: Steve cherundolo. He has been our best outside back and probably one of our best overall players for a long time. Honestly if he is healthy and Spector and Bornstein start over him I would be extremely disappointed in Bradley. I personally think the best option for the world cup would be Cherundolo at left back and Spector at right back.

    If putting Spector at left back takes away from his crossing ability then leave him on the right, because crossing is not a big part of Cherundolo’s game he will be fine down the right. Cherundolo has better foot skills and is a better two footed player than Spector. When you add that to his ability to take on defenders and his experience playing with Donovan it seems like a no brainer to play him down the left.

  27. USSOCCER.COM has a link to the tickets. There was a special presale for the fan club members (and apparently select others) on Monday and a VISA cardholders presale yesterday. General public are on sale today, I believe at 10AM. Tix as low as i believe 25 dollars.


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