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Bradley: ‘We just weren’t good enough’

Photo by Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports
Photo by Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports

Michael Bradley put it bluntly. After a night like Tuesday, there’s few ways to escape the obvious and even fewer ways to defend it.

“We just weren’t good enough”.

Bradley and the U.S. Men’s National Team were on the receiving end of a 4-0 beatdown on Tuesday night at the hands of Costa Rica. The loss, the USMNT’s second in as many games, sees the U.S. fall to the bottom of the Hexagonal standings while serving as a low point of Jurgen Klinsmann’s tenure in charge.

It wasn’t just the fact that the USMNT lost, considering the team had never actually won in Costa Rica previously to begin with. Rather, it was the manner in which they accepted defeat so early, conceding goal after goal to a Ticos team that was dominant from start to finish.

“On a night like this, there’s no point trying to look at it any other way,” Bradley said. “You have to be big enough and strong enough to just be able and say we weren’t good enough.

“(We weren’t good enough) in terms of understanding what the game was going to be about, in terms of knowing how we needed to play in a game that had so much on the line. We did not do good enough. You guys are going to want all sorts of analysis and answers, but the reality is just we weren’t good enough, and a good team in an environment like this makes you pay.”

Costa Rica is a difficult place to play, and Bradley acknowledges as much, but even the most pessimistic USMNT viewer would have expected much, much more from Tuesday night.

The first half was largely okay, all things considered. The U.S. certainly wasn’t dominant, but was able to create several decent looks on the attacking end. Bobby Wood slid a chance across goal and past the backpost to highlight the action as, even with the USMNT’s deficiencies, they were still in the match.

That all changed moments before halftime when Johan Venegas thumped a header home. It was a complete defensive breakdown from the U.S., one that saw three of the four members of the backline at fault. Bradley says that Costa Rica “smelled blood” from that point forward, jumping on a USMNT group that was simply beaten down by the time the final whistle sounded.

“I think they gave us a psychological knock with that goal right before halftime,” Klinsmann said. “But still, you cannot give away three more in the second half. We came out in the second half and said, ‘okay, let’s turn this around, similar to the Mexico game’, but we were not capable of doing that. In a certain way we were too flat. There was not enough alertness there, not enough tempo in there and determination in many one-against-one battles. It’s definitely a bitter pill to swallow, there’s no doubt about that.”

“There’s a need to support each other,” Bradley added. “In moments like this, it does you no good to point fingers, to be looking around, trying to figure out who you can throw under the bus. That’s not how it works and that’s not what real teams are all about. Again, it’s just been good enough this week. We all understand that and again, come March there’s going to be the need to go after things in a strong way so we can start to make things right.”

Now, the USMNT has questions to answer. How will they rebound from two of the most painful losses in recent memory? What changes, if any, need to be made to get the best out of this team? How can this team get better in the face of what is now overwhelming adversity.

Bradley says the team has several months to look inside and answer those questions. Each player now heads back to their club teams, some for several months straight while others will rejoin the USMNT program in January. During that time, Bradley says each player is tasked with rediscovering themselves on the club level. March will come quicker than most think, and the USMNT now has a hole to dig out of.

“Come March, we’re going to have a few days to get together and really understand that there’s going to need to be some urgency,” Bradley said. “We are going to have to collectively look in the mirror real hard at ourselves and understand that it’s not been a good start, but the reality of this Hexagonal format is that nothing is lost yet, not even close. So anybody who thinks that is sorely mistaken. All they need to do is take a look back in years past at some of the other examples of teams who have not started well but have still managed to come through, and in the end, they used the adversity in a positive way.

“We are not happy, but in moments like this, you have no choice but to — for every guy — to stand up and be strong and take responsibility and to just say it wasn’t good enough this week and be ready come March and go after things in a strong way.”


  1. The team missed Cameron, Bedoya and Howard, but that would not have made a difference. Not using Yedlin was, I think,kind of foolish. Not using Johnson at LB was not a moment of coaching brilliance either. I can understand trying to use Bradley and Jones to shield the back four, but that meant they would always be too deep to provide good service and Altidore tracking back was not going to fix that. It would have been better to use Kljestan in front of Bradley and use the speed of Pulisic, Gooch and Wood to stretch the Costa Rican defense. I am not sure Jozy is the best choice for the role of having those 3 guys run off him, but can’t really think of anyone else who would have done better at that.

    • The internet has been crying for 2 years for Fabian to play in the midfield so I think that criticism is a little unfair. Yedlin/Chandler could go either way, I’ve watched Chandler a few times this year and he doesn’t play like that for Frankfurt, I don’t know what his deal is.

      I think we missed Clint more than anybody, put him at the point of the diamond underneath Jozy and Bobby. He’s not going to provide a ton of cover, but he’d work hard enough to disrupt people. He’s also good at finding the open space to get a pass. Of course he may never play again so someone else has to come in.

  2. He should speak for himself. Since returning to MLS, Michael Bradley has regressed to the point where he can no longer be considered an automatic selection. Once upon a time, his positional awareness, tactical acumen, and passing ability could make up for his painful lack of speed and quicknesss. But those days are gone.

    On a related side note, how badly did we miss Geoff Cameron this week?

  3. talks like a captain.. plays like he doesn’t care. Wood, Jozy, Guzan somebody else needs to take the armband. this guy needs to prove he can still make the team.

  4. We just weren’t good enough. No sheet Sherlock. This team has a lot of very highly paid professionals who support themselves and their families by playing soccer. The World Cup is equalled only by the Olympics in being the biggest sporting event in the world. Careers can be greatly enhanced by good performances there, bringing players millions of dollars. If you can’t get motivated to qualify for that event, playing for you own country, you’re not much of a soccer player, not much of a man, and not much of a patriot. This problem goes way beyond the blunders that Klinsmann made. Too many US players just stunk up the stadium and too many showed a lack of effort. The most disturbing thing to me is how Mexico in the first half and Costa Rica the whole game, obviously wanted the game more than the US. That is totally unacceptable. I’d rather have lesser players who play their hearts out than better players who don’t.

    • Its not like the Estadio Nacional is the Saprissa either with its poor field turf and the fans right on top of you. Yes, it was full and loud, but it only seats 35,000 plus I’m sure some standing room for last night.

    • you know what? of all the guys… Altidore really wanted it. He was really pissed and trying his ass off in that CR game. Wood too, but I focus on Altidore. He definitely showed that he wanted it.

    • The problem here is that very few in the history of sports has ever said “I am just not feeling it so please do not name me to the highest level of competition in my field”. It is up to the coach to recognize the players who work their backsides off for the team and identify those who either do not have it physically or mentally to compete as needed. I would rather have lesser players who work their backsides off for the crest too, but that is up to the coach to find those guys and make them into a team that is better than any of the individual parts. JK cannot or refuses to do that.

  5. Here is what I heard him say…

    “Whanwanwantwantwawanwanhtanmmatwa…..At this point what difference does it make. I’m rich b-t-ch”

  6. Remember when the US used to have a big advantage in set-piece situations? The big reason that has evaporated is MB’s absolutely atrocious services. Just last night I’m pretty sure I counted 2 terrible corners and 2 terrible free kicks.

    • zusi comes into the game – a little bit late! – to rectify that. but seriously MB has not connected on corner kick in long time. and he is aiming at John Brooks, Omar, Jozy, etc. something is terribly wrong with corner kicks – along with a lot of other things – and yes that should still be our fail safe against concacaf teams.

  7. Rediscovering yourself? Maybe push yourself to play and compete with the best will help you improve? Perhaps MLS is already the best for the this guy so he is satisfied (complacent).

    Who is pushing for his place at TFC? No one so he doesn’t get any better than he was 2 years ago.


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