Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Bradley's Bucket: Things Have to Change


Bradley Leads the US/NY Times Photo

We’ve discussed several times recently on the American Soccer Show the “bucket” formation employed by US Coach Bob Bradley. Part of me sympathizes with why Bradley is using this formation: from my vantage point the US has less attacking talent currently than at any point since the 1994 World Cup. However, the lack of creativity that the US team develops during the course of a match forces the US to rely on counter attacking, something Bob Bradley seems less comfortable with in his words than did his predecessors.

This is not to say Bradley is conflicted: I simply think the US doesn’t have the type of personnel and skill level particularly down the flanks for the Bucket to work effectively as an attacking oriented formation. The bottom line is the formation isn’t working the way Coach Bradley would like against respectable opposition. The bucket has also served to put Michael Bradley, the coach’s son in a very difficult position and a remarkable amount of responsibility for a 20 year old. The younger Bradley is depended on to be a creative force offensively while playing in a withdrawn position and is also counted on to break up the oppositions attack. As we saw against England, when Landon Donovan whose skill level is so high he can be a creative force from any position on the pitch is absent the US is completely impotent offensively. The US created exactly one good scoring opportunity before minute 69 when the wily veteran Eddie Lewis entered the match. Lewis would be the perfect wide player on the left side for Bradley’s formation, and it is no wonder why even at thirty four, Lewis has repeatedly looked outstanding when playing for the national team under Bradley, after looking less than adequate at times (while being moved to several different positions) under Bruce Arena. Lewis himself created more legitimate scoring opportunities in his twenty one or so minutes of action playing down the flank then DaMarcus Beasley and Clint Dempsey created combined in the previous sixty nine minutes. While this speaks highly of Lewis’ ability to play in the bucket it speaks also very loudly about the limitations the formation places on Beasley and Dempsey.

Given the limited capabilities of the current US National Team player pool, Coach Bradley must consider changing the formation, or at the very least tweaking it, so that a creative attacking midfielder can set up between the two wide flank players. I would strongly consider moving to a 4-5-1 formation with Landon Donovan playing in the center of midfield between Clint Dempsey on the right side and DaMarcus Beasley on the left side. This also gives Bradley the option of playing Freddy Adu in the middle while Donovan plays out wide on the right side and Clint Dempsey is the lone striker.

What are everyone’s thoughts on the US formation and what personel would you like to see against Spain and Argentina this week?

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