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Quote Sheet: Sunil Gulati On Naming Bob Bradley Coach


U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati opening comments:
“What we have done today about an hour and a half, or so, ago was officially announce that Bob [Bradley] will be our National Team coach through the World Cup. We actually signed an agreement five months ago that allowed for that possibility. I’m very pleased that he’s going to be continuing in guiding the team, with the first thing on the agenda being the two competitions within the next couple of months. It’s really a pleasure to confirm that Bob is going to be our coach. He’s been a personal friend for 20-plus years and we’ve worked professionally in some way for 20-plus years as well.”

On how far along talks with other candidates got:
SG: “We had discussed back in the fall with a group of five people. Bob was in that group. Juergen [Klinnsman] was in that group. Those are the only two names we ever publicly confirmed, in one case because Juergen had confirmed that he was speaking to us and in the other case, obviously, because we were naming Bob. The discussions since December and January were not anything like the discussions we had had previously. We did need to talk to some people because everything happened very quickly but I think it’s fair to say that the focus has been very much on what was happening with Bob, with the team, with the response of the team and so on. The two or three people that we wanted to speak or continue conversations with, all still expressed interest in the position. None of the people that we had talked to originally that were part of the mix withdrew from the process at any point but we made the decision that we announced today. It certainly never got to the stage that they we were at with Juergen.”

On how close the Technical Director position is to being filled:
SG: “Bob and I have been talking about that for a little while. We’ve talked about some names and what the qualities are that we’re looking for in such a person. The plan was always to have the national team coach in place and, frankly, after the events of this summer, later in the year, potentially bring somebody on board, or maybe into next year. That’s a long-term position. It’s not a short-term, competition-driven slot so we started talking about some names but it’s early in that process. It’s safe to say that unlike was the case with Bruce (Arena), where he carried both portfolios and as is done in some countries, we will have two different people in those spots. We felt that had to be two slots given the size and the magnitude of the job in the U.S.”

On what it means to say that Bob Bradley will be the coach through the next World Cup:
SG: “He has a four-year contract is what it means. We hire coaches, generally, on long-term deals. That’s what Bob has… It’s certainly the plan to have Bob coach the team through qualifying and into the World Cup. We have full faith in him doing that.”

On whether he learned anything new about Bob over the last five months:
SG: “In general terms, no, because over the last 20 years and more-so during the last 10, every since the start of MLS, we’ve talked about the game probably as much as I’ve talked about it with anyone. In the small group of people that I talk to regularly what we saw were some very difficult decisions that Bob made during this interim period which would have been easy decisions to make in an alternative way. What I was talking about specifically were decisions about hiring an assistant coach who has a very strong personality, decisions about leaving some players out of the Mexico game, allowing some players to go home after the Ecuador game that had important games in league play or trying to earn spots or trying to maintain spots on their Premier League teams or their First Division teams. Bob, even then, was looking at the four year picture and not what a result against Guatemala or Mexico might mean to his position. That was a huge plus in looking at the situation. But as a coach, I’ve known Bob for so long and seen him work for so long that I don’t think I’ve learned anything there. I’ve always thought very highly of his capabilities and his ability to lead our National Team.”

On whether he would do anything differently in the process of selecting the coach, given the chance:
SG: “The process probably has two very distinct phases, the first part until December and the second part, post-December. I think there are certainly a few things I would do differently in the first part of it. But, starting when we made the decision in December to name Bob interim, I haven’t, frankly, felt pressed by time considerations, nor has Bob. We had an understanding that both of us were comfortable with and, frankly, we had a little bit of a luxury of time. In the last five months, nothing has been missed. Bob has had the chance to look at any number of players, we’ve played a number of games, we’ve scheduled games for the future. By the end of July we will have played more games than we’ve played, other than maybe one other year, in the last decade. By the end of the year we’ll have played more games than probably any time since we’ve had a residency program. He’s taken the job as if it were his starting in December when we made the announcement, so from that point, we haven’t missed a beat. There are some things that, starting at the first part of the process, that we would do differently. Those would probably be to expedite certain processes because we didn’t have the luxury of time in quite the same way.”

On what hiring Bradley means for the development of U.S. Soccer’s youth programs:
SG: “We’re looking at all of our programs on the technical side.  Kevin Payne is heading up our technical committee, which Bob and Greg Ryan are apart of, so Bob is involved with that process now, looking at the technical side of the game and we’re going to announce some things that we’d like to see happen relatively soon.  Bob will continue to be involved in that, and obviously once we have a technical director, he’ll certainly join in that effort as well. Both would have a role there. Obviously, we’re not going to have a disconnect between the technical side and the way our national teams run things.”

On whether Bradley will be the coach of the Olympic team:
SG: “After these two competitions we’ll sit down and analyze that.  He’s got a couple of great assistant coaches with him that could take that team.  We’ve already started talking about it, but we won’t make a decision until after the second of these two competitions.”

On reopening negotiations with Juergen Klinnsman:
SG: “I talked to Juergen yesterday and told him that we were making this announcement today, so we have not talked in the last few weeks to Juergen or his associates. I had talked with Juergen twice over the past couple of months and that was mostly to bring closure to the situation from last year.”

On how confident he is in an American to get the job done:
SG: “We’re very confident.  We had an American that had great success, Bruce Arena. After what the team accomplished in South Korea (in the 2002 World Cup), being an American didn’t seem to be a shortcoming for Bruce with our fans, players or anyone else and I’m completely confident that Bob, as an American coach, is capable. Different people will bring different things to any job, whether it’s as a player or as a coach. The qualities that Bob brings as a coach are extraordinary. Neither one had coached in a World Cup before they were hired, neither one player in a World Cup, nor did they coach in the premier league, but if we talk about other coaches then we’re just talking about different shortcomings.”

On what he is looking for in a technical director:
SG: “We’re open to anyone for the technical director position, and we talked about it maybe being appropriate to look at someone from the outside. That’s possible whether it’s a European, a South American or whether it’s someone who is based in the U.S. From what I have read, I think Juergen (Klinnsman) is more interested in coaching a team directly along with doing some of the other things he’s involved in, so it’s not something we’ve ever talked about with him.”

On when he felt comfortable going forward with Bradley as head coach:
“In the process of the fall we focused on one candidate near the end of the process and there were some conversations to be had that couldn’t happen very quickly. As for what point I became comfortable with Bob, that was somewhere between 10 years ago and six months ago. Long before I was an officer at the Federation, and in the early days of MLS, I had the notion that Bob could, should and would be the national team coach at some point in the future.  It was just a question of when. Over the last six months he’s done nothing to deter my thought on that. There haven’t been any missteps and I absolutely think we’re in the right place with this program.”


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