Despite the proclamation of a “new era” by Adrian Healey, the two US friendlies versus Poland and Colombia were more of the same for Bob Bradley’s team.
Tragically, against Poland, that included gifting goals to the opposition and trying inane formations (4-2-3-1) and playing players out of position (Maurice Edu). Everyone knows that Bradley has his favorites, which is fine, but playing Edu at center back is inexcusable. It’s a travesty, really, and yet Bradley saw nothing wrong with it. People should have seen this coming, especially because Bradley is an uncreative coach. He’s very unwilling to experiment, much like the USSF is unwilling to take a chance on another coach (I believe Bradley stayed because neither side wanted to break up, even though both knew it was in their best interests). On the plus side, Jozy Altidore scored his first international goal since 2009.
Against Colombia, Bradley went with a 4-3-3 even though the US doesn’t have the skill to play that formation. Surprisingly, he started Brek Shea (who has amazing potential and should be playing regularly from now on) and Heath Pearce (who probably shouldn’t be playing). Bradley seems indecisive in the midfield, in that he is determined to play Jermaine Jones, Michael Bradley, and Maurice Edu together. That’s a mistake. The midfield should revolve around the younger Bradley and the US should take advantage of his skills and his endurance. But the coach won’t do that, because Edu is one of his favorites and he would have to be left out (Jones is clearly better than Edu).
On the other hand, Bradley did a better job incorporating the younger players against Colombia. Bradley needs to see what Shea, Holden, and others have to offer. The US is going to need someone to be Clint Dempsey’s understudy in the next Gold Cup and, eventually, the US is going to need a skilled player on the order of Landon Donovan. Bradley clearly sees both of them as security blankets, and both will be fine for Brazil in 2014, but the fact remains that Bradley needs to go against his nature and bring in unfamiliar players.