Opening Comments from Sunil Gulati and Bob Bradley via Conferene Call
Sunil Gulati Opening Comments:
“I want to break some opening remarks into four general areas: the overall search process that we’ve engaged in during the last five months, and generally, the other three parts fall into what we’re doing next, who we’re talking to and one specific area of what we’re doing in the short term and possibly in the long term.
“We started a search immediately after our decision coming out of the World Cup, and our conclusion with Bruce Arena, that we said would go probably into November about naming a national team coach to take us forward. And our hope to name a national team coach in November or the early part of December.
“Along the way, we announced that we had talked to 13 people seriously and further along the way we said that we had narrowed that list to five people. During that process, the only name we had ever confirmed that we had talked to was Juergen Klinsmann, and we did that only after Juergen had confirmed in a couple of interviews that he had talked with us. At no point in the process did we confirm that we had talked to any other individual, either informally or formally. Today, I’m in the position to confirm that one other person we had talked to in that five months was Bob Bradley. He was in the group of 13 and in the group of five.
“We obviously did not meet that timetable of announcing a coach in November. As we moved into serious discussions, some of those candidates, including Juergen, it was pretty clear that our initial timetable was the right one, because, in Juergen’s case he wanted to take some time off after the World Cup. At least in two or three other cases we were talking very seriously, initially to people who had job commitments, either in Europe or MLS. That had always been our idea, that we knew people had commitments that they couldn’t get out of. In the case of MLS coaches, at least until November. In the case of European and South American coaches, probably until May.
“At some point in that process, probably in October and early November, we focused virtually all of our energy on one candidate, and that was Juergen Klinsmann. I don’t think I want to shy away from that. He was our first choice. We spent a lot of time and a lot of effort in that process. He certainly indicated an interest, a lot of interest, and we indicated a lot of interest, and it’s fair to say some of my colleagues probably felt that we made an extra effort and maybe we should have stopped the process a little bit earlier. But I felt that I wanted to make the extra effort and go further along and make additional efforts and engage in that process.
“What I’m not prepared to do today, or at any point, is talk about the details of those discussions. Juergen has a number of extraordinarily admirable qualities and, while being in a very public position in a very public sport, he’s a very private guy and I’m going to respect his desire in a statement yesterday about wanting to keep those discussions private.
“I’ve read a lot of the things that have been written in the last five months. Everything from that we had a handshake agreement in Germany, to we had a done deal, to he wanted millions of Euros, to that we wouldn’t give up power, to that it was a commercial issue between two very large sporting manufacturers. Almost all of that is nonsense. I’m not going to go into the discussions. I played Junior Varsity soccer at a college, Juergen played in a World Cup final. It wasn’t about control issues about players; it wasn’t about the millions of Euros that he wanted. None of those things are accurate but I’m not going to go into details. He’s an extraordinarily gifted coach and I think it would have been a great situation if we could have made it happen.
“In a conversation yesterday, after we all concluded that it wasn’t going to happen, we had a terrific conversation about the future and not about what would happen in four or five months, but about American soccer, about what he might do in the future. We might work together in the future. What that means, I’m not able to tell you and I don’t want anyone to expect that he’ll take the team in 2008 or in May, that’s not what I’m saying at all. All of the positive qualities that a lot of people see in him and that I see in him, is what made us take a lot longer than what others might have. That issue is now behind us and we’re moving forward.
“Why aren’t we making an appointment today on a permanent basis? It’s pretty simple. Some of the candidates that were in our pool are in the middle of season abroad, and in some cases, in the middle of European competitions abroad and, in some cases, in the middle of European championships, not just league championships but international competitions in Europe. It would be completely inappropriate if we wanted to go after some of those candidates and they couldn’t start with us until later, (or) to preclude them from the possibility of joining us by saying that we’re making a permanent appointment that would preclude them. It would also be inappropriate to name one of them.
“It’s not a question about taking our time on a decision, it’s a question of not wanting to rule out at least two candidates that are internationally based, that have successful international experience, both at a club and national team level, that we are still talking to, and in some cases have talked to in the last 24 hours, that are still interested in the job. There’s also one candidate who was not in our final list that we had talked to in our broader list of 13, that when we had talked to him several months ago said he was not interested in pursuing it but has come back to us and said he would like to be back into the mix and would like to be considered. That’s part of the reason that we will make a decision that will be pushed back in a time frame that will be in the spring.
“The last part of what I want to say is that we are making a decision today and that’s a two-part decision. We decided that Bob Bradley will be our Olympic team coach, coaching our Under-23 National Team and will also be coaching our National Team on an interim basis. How long that interim basis will be, it’s envisioned through the springtime. Might it be shorter? Might it be longer? That’s all possible. Is Bob a potential candidate to coach the National Team, the answer is yes. He was in that group of five so he would be a potential candidate to continue. Bob and I have had a very frank conversation about what those probabilities are and I’m not going to go into those any further. His track record speaks for itself. He’s been very successful at the MLS level, he’s been very successful in developing players and certainly I am extremely comfortable that we are putting our National Team and our Olympic team program in very safe hands. Going forward, as we start the process of preparing our team for China and as we start the foundation for South Africa, I think we’re leaving our program in great hands. With that I’ll turn it over to Bob.”
Bob Bradley Opening Comments:
“I'm really excited and honored to have the chance to lead the U.S. National Team at this time. It means an extra amount to me to follow Bruce, who most of you know is my friend. I've had a chance to work with him and after his successful eight years, I'm especially honored to follow him. Most of all, I think about all of the people in this country who have put their hearts and souls into the game. I know that so many of them would give anything to have an opportunity to do anything with the national team. For me to have been called on at this time, I'm excited. And I'm ready for it.
“Honestly, I also think a little bit at this time about Mooch (Glenn Myernick) because if there was anyone who was part of U.S. Soccer in moments like this who would have stood up front and been ready for any challenges, it would have been Glenn. In all of those ways I am confident about what I bring.
“I know, through my conversations with Sunil, what lies ahead and none of that fazes me at all. I feel very strongly about what we're doing in this country, about how all of us continue to push the game forward. I am honored to have this chance.
“I would also like to take a few seconds to thank Antonio Cue and everyone at Chivas USA for the support that they have shown really over the last few days. It's been a hectic few days, but I couldn't say enough about the people in that organization and their passion for, not only their club, but for the game in this country.”