June 13, 2011
By Michael Lewis
Time for doctor -- err, coach Bradley -- to find cure for U.S. slow starts
KANSAS CITY — The U.S. National Team is suffering from a well-known soccer malady called slow-start-itis.
U.S. national coach Bob Bradley might not be smiling too touch these days as he tries to right a chronic U.S. problem -- slow starts.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
It is usually diagnosed and found in losing soccer sides, yet the Americans have consistently found ways to overcome this ailment to be more successful than not.
Their woes were never more apparent or on display than at last year’s World Cup in South Africa in which they followed a similar, yet dangerous script. They would fall behind early and battle back for a draw or victory. It caught up to them against Ghana in the second round, when the Africans grabbed a 1-0 lead before the Americans equalized in regulation. The scenario was duplicated in extratime when Ghana struck first yet again. This time, however, the U.S. ran out of time and wound up out of the tournament.
It is the charge of Dr. — err — coach Bob Bradley to find a cure for his team, or the U.S. might continue to suffer the consequences of what transpired at Raymond James Stadium on Saturday — a 2-1 loss to Panama in the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
The Central Americans took advantage of yet another slow U.S. start and enjoyed a two-goal advantage by the 36th minute and the U.S. played what I call panic soccer, trying score two goals at once to equalize. I have never seen a team score two goals at once. Never.
This chronic condition is quite worrisome because Bradley and his staff has not been able to find a more permanent cure.
You have to wonder that if this condition continues to persist and costs the U.S. wins or even ties in the future — whatever if it be this Gold Cup, in World Cup qualifying or the World Cup itself — how patient U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati will be. Would he stay the course or bring in a new doctor — err coach — to seek a cure and get the best out of the team?
As one of CONCACAF’s powerhouses, the Americans are expected to dominate teams in games, not chase it on a regular basis.
You just can’t keep playing from behind in and game out. This expends way too much energy and will take its toll, both sooner and later.
Only time will tell whether Bradley will find the right tonic or if the U.S. will make an unplanned trip to the ER or even bring in a new doctor and staff.