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WORLD CUP

Bob Bradley reviews U.S. loss to Ghana

The U.S. national team coach discusses the inability of forwards to score and the team's habit of giving up early goals at the World Cup.

June 27, 2010|By Grahame L. Jones

Reporting from Johannesburg, South Africa -- Bob Bradley did not get a good night's rest. The coach of the U.S. national team and his players did not get back to their rural base until the wee hours of Sunday morning, but it wasn't the roosters or the dogs or even the cows that kept Bradley awake.

Instead, unable to drop off to sleep, he played and replayed the 2-1 loss to Ghana that knocked the U.S. out of the World Cup.

"I never sleep well after games," he admitted. "Wins, losses, it's never easy after a game. I usually watch the game over and over a few times."

But Bradley was not second-guessing himself.

"When decisions are made and things go well, I never pat myself on the back," he said. "When decisions on a given day don't go as well, that's part of what we do, that's how the game works."

What went right at South Africa 2010 for the U.S. was that it finished on top of its first-round group, ahead of England, Slovenia and Algeria. The U.S. also proved to be a resilient side, able to overcome adversity and claw its way back into games.

A couple of errors led to the round-of-16 loss to Ghana, which scored on its first shot in the game and on its first shot in overtime, but there were two factors, above all, that characterized the Americans in South Africa.

The first was the inability of the forwards to score goals. The U.S. netted five in total, all of them by midfielders, including three by Landon Donovan.

Forwards Jozy Altidore, Robbie Findley, Edson Buddle and Herculez Gomez did not find the back of the net.

The second identifying characteristic of the team was its habit of yielding early goals. In two of its four games, the U.S. was scored upon within five minutes of the start and in another it was scored upon within 15 minutes. In a rather startling statistic, over the course of four games, the U.S. held a lead for a total of barely three minutes.

On Sunday, Bradley talked about both issues.

"Goals decide matches," he said, "and I think anyone who follows the game around the world knows that that's still the greatest challenge in the game -- to be someone who can consistently score goals. So it's an area where we do need to improve."

As for the early defensive miscues, Bradley said it was a matter of experience and maturity in knowing how to manage a game.

"The second part is that that's just how the game works sometimes," he said. "I can watch the game at the highest level and see the same things happen, whether it's Barcelona or Manchester United or Brazil or Spain. That's the way the game works."

Whether Bradley still will be the U.S. coach for the next four-year cycle leading to the Brazil 2014 World Cup is up in the air, but his chances appear favorable.

"I've always enjoyed new challenges," he said of the possibility of other coaching jobs, possibly abroad. "But I also from day one have considered it a tremendous honor to coach the national team.

"Over time, there will be discussions. At this point it's too soon after the final whistle."

grahame.jones@latimes.com

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