The Soccer Coaches Summit: A Talk With Bob Bradley
The coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented disruption in our soccer world but a few organizations are making a huge difference in this extremely challenging environment.
America SCORES is making a positive impact with the Soccer Coaches Summit which has brought together over a hundred outstanding speakers from the soccer world. The hour-long sessions are free to join —although America SCORES would appreciate a donation to help keep their free youth soccer and literacy program available.
Over 100 speakers are participating including Anson Dorrance, Bob Bradley, Lynn Berling-Manuel, Duncan Riddle, Tracy Hamm, Paul Caligiuri, Keith Tozer, Ben Olsen, Jim Barlow, Carrie Taylor, Kim Wyant, Kyle Martino, Ed Foster-Simeon, Paul Holocher, Mike Noonan, Kylie Stannard, Wayne Harrison, Amy Dirks, Kassie Gray, Dennis te Kloese, Aliceann Wilber, Jim Madrid and of course, Colin Schmidt, the CEO of America SCORES Bay Area whose organization created this program.
Highlights of A Conversation with Bob Bradley
Diane Scavuzzo interviewed Bob Bradley on April 17, 2020. (The entire hour and twenty-five-minute session can be downloaded after a donation to America SCORES.)
Head coach of the MLS’ LAFC and formerly of the U.S. National Team, Bob Bradley is one of the great leaders in today’s soccer world.
Leading an MLS team during the pandemic requires special leadership. The MLS has been shut down since March 12, the day after the world agreed a pandemic had permeated the globe. Although the MLS has extended its return to the field several times, America’s top pro league hopes to let players start training in the not too distant future to prepare possibly for games played in empty stadiums — without fans. While the MLS Commissioner Don Garber is calling these fan-less matches MLS Studio Games, all that really matters is that soccer will soon start up again.
Bradley is one of the few coaches who has any experience coaching games in empty stadiums. He was the Egyptian National Team Manager when the national team began World Cup qualifiers in empty stadiums.
“It is an eerie feeling — There is a sadness — The connection with the fans is so important.”Bob Bradley on playing in empty stadiums
“But in this time when we have no football — the most important thing that all of us can do is stay home and be disciplined — and when the right time comes, and games can be brought back, I know at first it is going to have to be in empty stadiums — and, I am all in for that,” said Bradley. “At that moment, there is still going to be a celebration.”
“This is a challenging time for all of us because it is unprecedented,” said Bradley.
Although Bradley believes in the theory of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy (DA) he said, “We have lost our way in some cases … things were not always done well. And, like everyone else, I am trying to figure out what is coming next.”
Bradley shared his thoughts that it was sad that people thought the only place where you could scout talent was in the DA — which he said was simply not true. “You have to look everywhere to find good players,” said Bradley who thinks we need more discussions with people with real football experience.
“There are good youth soccer players all over.”
Is Bradley a fan of the status quo?
“I have different ideas,” said Bradley who believes MLS clubs should have different identities, and therefore should be able to chose if they actually want to have an MLS Academy.
“I will get myself in trouble now.”
“All MLS clubs should choose if they want to invest in an academy,” said Bradley who confirmed that he believes 100% that LAFC should provide an academy to develop players.
“I would get rid of homegrown rights because that makes no sense.”
“Players should go where they fit best,” said Bradley who believes very strongly that clubs responsible for developing a youth player who becomes a professional should be compensated.
“The really important thing, make sure that when we talk about solidarity payments that all clubs — starting at certain ages — that play a role in the development of a player are part of solidarity payments,” said Bradley.
“These are ideas that wouldn’t be agreed upon by everyone.”
Giving young players opportunities is important to Bradley who admitted there is never one consistent element that stands out — besides football intelligence. He loves players who play with passion and who make their teammates better and never give up, even on those days when it is challenging.
“I love to see players who understand the game.”
“The hardest players to coach are the ones whose mind you can’t open up,” said Bradley, three time MLS Coach of the Year.
How important is mental strength?
“Mental strength is key and the best players forget things very quickly,” said Bradley who easily admitted that he hugs as well as yells at his players and believes that the best coaches express they care. Bradley also confirmed that the college route is still relevant and that there are a lot of great coaches and work being done in the collegiate game.
What do you think of futsal as a developmental tool?
Futsal is awesome.
Would Bradley coach the U.S. National team again?
“No, I am proud of my five years,” said Bradley. “When I was fired, I was never going to look back and at this point, and I support Gregg Berhalter.
What is Bradley the proudest of?
“I am most proud of creating a culture that people are proud to be a part of.”
Bradley also recounted several stories of giving players chances against the advice of others and discussed how important equipment managers are. He believes it is critical that “We find a way to make everyone in our country feel part of the game.”
“You can’t grow the game if too many people feel left out of the game.”
Images: Courtesy of LAFC / LAFC Facebook