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Monday Morning Centerback: West keeps running MLS, Bradley talks Villa & more

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The Western Conference's dominance over the East is not a new development, but when the past weekend's results effectively put six West teams into playoff positions and gave us the first glimpse of possibility of just two East teams making the post-season, that dominance felt just a bit more glaring.

San Jose's 1-0 win against Los Angeles, coupled with Toronto FC's collapse against New York, allowed the Earthquakes to leapfrog TFC (and Colorado) into playoff position. It's a position they may not relinquish now that Brazilian playmaker Geovanni is in a San Jose uniform.

There is still plenty of soccer to be played, but East teams, with the Columbus Crew and New York Red Bulls, aren't exactly showing signs of being ready to make a run at the West playoff contenders. The Chicago Fire has multiple games in hand, but fell victim to its shaky defense yet again in a 4-3 loss to a Houston side that came in riding a ten-match winless streak.

New England fared no better. After winning consecutive games to put itself back on the fringes of playoff contention, the Revs dropped their second match in four days in a 4-1 thrashing against Kansas City, another East team with faint hopes of a playoff berth.

Can the East avoid the embarrassment of having just two teams in the playoffs? The Colorado Rapids are certainly leaving the door open, having won just once in their past ten matches and facing a brutal remaining schedule that includes five matches against the top four teams in MLS.

Toronto, Chicago and Kansas City (and even New England) could all conceivably catch the faltering Rapids, but it will take one of them finding some consistency and improving on the form they've shown for much of the year.


Bob Bradley has been asked questions about the Aston Villa job for nearly two weeks, and has repeatedly stated that such a job would be of interest to him. For that reason, it really shouldn't have come as a surprise to anybody when Bradley answered "Of course" when asked yet again if he would be interested in managing Villa.

Speaking to BBC Radio recently, Bradley said the same things he said before and after the U.S. national team's recent loss to Brazil. He would be interested in the Aston Villa job and he had his people look into the situation. Perhaps the fact he was speaking directly to the British media made it seem like some sort of revelation.

It is clear that Bradley wants to keep his options open while he and U.S. Soccer figure out whether they will have a future together beyond 2010, and there isn't a more appealing job available on the international coaching market than Aston Villa. Whether Bradley will be seriously considered or not is unclear (though a recent Yahoo Sports report suggested Bradley was not a serious contender), but what is clear is that Bradley's coaching future is anything but settled.

What do I see happening? I still see him staying as U.S. men's national team head coach, but it's a safe bet he would jump at the chance to manage Aston Villa if he were offered the job.


For some folks who read the most recent Americans Abroad update, seeing the name Conor Doyle might have left them scratching their heads. A relatively unknown American earning a start at forward in the English First Division is reason to take notice, but who exactly is Conor Doyle?

Doyle is an 18-year-old Dallas Texans product who finished high school early to attend Creighton University, but wound up skipping his college career to sign with Derby County after a training stint turned into a successful trial.

The "Call Him Up" crowd might want to slow down regarding Doyle. He was in Derby's starting lineup because the Rams had FIVE other forwards unavailable. That said, he is already making a good impression at Derby and is a player American fans will want to keep tabs on.


  1. I can’t wait for Doyle to dress in a Man-U I heard Barca is eyeing him too… they call him the next Ronaldo!.. I kid guys, geesshh,.. can’t have fun on this site anymore without someone getting all emotional and stuff.:)

    Anyways, I seriously hope this kid turns out a decent player. We really need forwards in our pool.

  2. Doyle is in a second division squad where he only gets playing time by default because the 5 options in front of him are unfit and the masses are calling for him to take Altidore’s spot…hilarious.

    I’m fine with Rongen taking a look at him in camp. Great. For the senior team, how about we wait until he is a consistent performer in the Championship and actually scores some goals on the U-20 teams etc. ?

  3. I’m saying that because kmac knows the players, they have stated that they want him to stay on, he brought a lot of them up, and that most villa fans have Bradley dead last on their list of replacements. It’s either kmac, or a bigger name. Anything else and you risk alienating the supporters.

  4. I simply don’t see the huge upside to Bradley, or the U.S., for him staying on as MNT coach. I think Bradley had some significant accomplishments with the Nats, some that often go unappreicated here, but national team programs often thrive on new ideas and mindsets. With Arena we saw the danger of becoming too reliant on a single coach…complacency, uninventive line-up selection, going with “old mainstays” instead of giving new players a chance, etc.

    I still believe the Klinsmann option could be made to work, and he certainly would be somebody to bring innovative ideas to the national team. I also think it would be awesome for a qualified American coach, which Bradley is, to get a shot in Europe for a major club.

  5. “What do I see happening? I still see him staying as U.S. men’s national team head coach, but it’s a safe bet he would jump at the chance to manage Aston Villa if he were offered the job.”

    Translation: “What do I see happening? I still see him doing what he’s doing, but it’s a safe bet if what he says he wants to happen happens, he would jump at the chance to do what he’s repeatedly expressed interest in doing.”

    Just messing with you, Ives. I agree…my money’s on Bradley staying on as the US coach. I’ve had problems with his tactics in the past, but I don’t hate the man. If he goes to Villa, I’ll cheer for him and wish him all the best–he has the opportunity to pave a brand new road for American coaches.

  6. Bradley has to go, he’s dreadful and hasn’t learned a thing with his substitutions and team selections. Doesn’t a teenage Brazilian side destroying your veteran side do anything to you reputation?!

  7. Anyone else completely creeped out by Thomas Rongen. I saw him on that U-18 national championship broadcast and I wouldn’t let my kid anywhere near him.

  8. What makes you think that Kevin Mac is better than Bob? Personal opinion?

    He has never been a manager in Europe either… he was caretaker for Leicester and then coached the Villa reserves (who are albeit the best rezzie side in England)…

    Bob may not have played at a high level compared to Kevin but I do not seen anything suggests he is better…

  9. I’ll make a prediction, and some may laugh, but here goes:

    Bradley WILL be named Aston Villa coach. They don’t want to begin the EPL season with an “interim” coach, and the uncertainty that brings to the players.

    Aston Villa just received a HUGE chunk of change for Milner, too much in my opinion, but a fool (Man City) and his money soon part. They could certainly use this money to get another quality midfielder. I think this midfielder could be Donovan, and even at the $15 million that MLS is sure to ask, AV still is in the plus after the Milner deal. It also is a good move for LD, as he will be following a coach that knows his skill set. LD is also a proven quantity in the EPL.

  10. I’m curious to see how many people bash Bradley when/if he does finally leave.

    “B-b-b-utttt we’re preparing for friendlies/Gold Cup/qualifying. How dare he????”

  11. Somewhere at USSF headquarters, Sunil and Bradley sit down for a little chat. this is what follows.

    Bradley: Alex Ferguson is backing me and has said that the federation should rush to sign me up. So what about it Sunil? what the F is taking so long to renew my contract?

    Sunil: Well, let’s not rush to anything here. I think we should all keep our heads on straight and take a little more time to assess how we did and how we can move forward.

    Bradley: It has been 2 months now since the world cup. I think i have assess the hell out of my performance. I am ready for the next 4 years.

    Sunil: well, i’m not. let’s not rush.

    Bradley: you keep saying more time. no rush. what are you saying Sunil. Level with me. Mano a mano. Look me in the eye and speak plain english here.

    Sunil: we just need more time.

    Bradley: FCuk more time. just say what you have to say.

    Sunil: calm down. calm down. You know this process takes a long time. we are looking at all our options. we want to make sure we have a coach in place in case the coach we really wanted 4 years ago backs out again this time around.

    Bradley: what?

    Sunil: what i am saying is you know that Aston Villa has a spot open. I think you should keep your options open. *Wink* *Wink*

    Bradley: What are you saying?

    Sunil: Look, the owners of Aston Villa are good friends of mine. I think you should keep your options open *wink*. I cannot tell you what to do. But i would strongly recommend that you talk to these guys. Here’s their phone numbers. But keep in mind that if things don’t work out on our side, you are DEFINITELY our guy, you know what i am saying.

  12. 2-3 year cycles are meaningless for CONCACAF managers. The Gold Cup occurs every 2 years, in years 1 and 3 of the World Cup cycle and the year 3 one is for bragging rights only (and therefore the top teams rarely use their ‘A’ team). The Year 1 Gold Cup is important, but more for the Confederation Cup spot it earns in Year 3. However, if you have a manager take the team to the Confed Cup, where the benefit is playing in the WC environment (stadiums, etc.) then you want whoever takes them to be the one who takes them to the World Cup. So no, for CONCACAF, it’s a 4 year deal and you have to get fired to be replaced.

  13. Ives,

    What do you think about Pellegrini as a USMNT coach possibility, purely from a fit standpoint? Did you ever sit in on a press conference with him when he came over to the U.S.? He seems like an intelligent guy. I think he speaks English pretty well.

    (SBI-One of the better suggestions I’ve heard. I like it.)

  14. Brian Ching scored a hat trick. Congrats. How come he has never tried to head overseas? Surely Switzerland or Greece or Norway would have a role for him.

  15. Conor Doyle- 18 year old striker in competition for a starting spot at a decent club in England’s 2nd division.

    Could he be ready for the WC in 2014? Surely in a prime spot now. What’s his competition in 2014? Altidore and Davies are givens. Tristian Bowen could be if he’s playing well in Europe.

    how about a call up with the u-20, u-23 first

  16. I don’t think Bradley would go for that imo, and the the part about making him work harder is not an issue with Bradley. He may have faults but his work ethic isn’t one of them.

  17. what about that dude Andy Carroll? Hat trick against Aston Villa. And he’s 20 i believe. Could he be the forward to help England

  18. Smits, this is bizarre. When evidence changes, predictions change. Some evidence (most elite leagues are already in swing) indicates that BB will be US coach for a while yet. That was not the case when there were vacancies in the preseason. Ergo, odds increased that Bobbo stays. Midseason when some teams are floundering and cashiering their coaches, maybe things will change again.

    Imagine that.

  19. If Bradley signs an extension with the USSF then it will only be for 2-3 years. Maybe even through the Gold Cup next summer. My opinion is give him another cycle without a guaranteed 4 years, make him work harder, and if he hasn’t impressed by 2012ish bring in somebody new. New managers are constantly available due to the quick trigger finger of clubs. Jose Mourinho could be available, you never know. It’s all about timing and cash.

  20. Do anyone think Thomas Rongen will call this Doyle dude for the upcoming U-20 squad for the qualifying series. Hopefully his club releases him for it, if not at least for the U-20 World cup in Colombia come this time next year.

  21. Bradley isn’t better than MacDonald. Lerner needs to do everyone a favor and name MacDonald the manager for the season. There aren’t any better options this season. See how Mac does, and go after Jol next year if he’s poor. After the 6-0 loss it’s pretty clear the players are distracted, and Villa are in desperate need of one more striker (which means the manager has a week to dip into the transfer funds).

  22. While Bradley might remain on as USMNT coach, is this best for all parties or just Plan B. It is my opinion, that USMNT job is not Bradley’s first choice, and my reading between the lines is he would rather move to a European club job. If that’s the case, (1) does he really want to committ 4 years and (2) will his drive eventually wane like Arena’s did?

  23. You STILL see him as US coach? ?! Weren’t you suggesting not long ago that USSF would go in a different direction based upon Sunil Gulati’s comments?

    Seems like you’re changing your story Ives.

    (SBI-What “story” am I changing? I’ve written repeatedly, both here and on Fox, that I think the odds are that he stays. Does that mean he’s a lock to stay? No, but your comment about a change coming based on Gulati’s comments wasn’t from anything I wrote.)


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