TRAFTON KENNEY - Tuesday, June 29, 2010
U.S. men's national team coach Bob Bradley was typically stoic in defeat as he reflected on his team's exit from the World Cup after their 2-1 overtime loss to Ghana in the Round of 16.
After winning their group for the first time in the team's history after several harrowing comebacks, the Americans faced arguably their most favorable draw in recent memory, with just Ghana and Uruguay separating them from a place in the semifinals.
Bradley spoke about the team's disappointment in the result after a promising start to the tournament.
"I think the first thoughts for all of us are simple," said Bradley after the game. "We felt that in the first round we showed a lot of good qualities. You get through the first round and give yourself a chance to go far. We felt we had that ability, and we're disappointed that we didn't get past this game and continue to test ourselves."
With the team's gritty early performances catching the attention of the American public, some pundits see the loss to Ghana as a missed opportunity to capitalize on the peak of interest.
"We always understand the responsibility we have as a national team to show how far the game has come in the United States, to fight for respect," said Bradley. "We certainly felt we moved things along with our performance in the Confederations Cup. As we went through the first round, we felt that we were continuing to go in that direction.
"But again it comes down to every match now, it gets tested over again. So for tonight all we can do is look hard at ourselves and try to move the game forward."
In what has become an all too familiar sight for U.S. fans, the Americans conceded an early goal after Kevin Prince-Boateng capitalized on a Ricardo Clark turnover in midfield to put the Black Stars ahead after five minutes.
"I think we hurt ourselves with giving up the early goal," added Bradley. "It's certainly something that we're aware of, you try to manage games early. Once again I think in the early part of this game we felt like we were doing a solid job, but we paid the price for a turnover, so we recognize it but just talking about it doesn't always change it."
Bradley also defended his decision to start Clark ahead of Maurice Edu in the center of midfield and explained his early substitution.
"We felt that Ricardo [Clark] had against England been disciplined in the way he had plugged certain holes and thought that would be important against Ghana," Bradley explained. "We took him off in the first half which is something we almost never do but I was concerned about the card."
With Bradley's contract set to expire in December of 2010, the New Jersey native was quick to deflect questions regarding his future immediately after the game.
"I don't think its the time to talk about my situation," he concluded. "This has been a four year cycle where we worked hard and culminated in being here in South Africa and at the moment, a dissapointing feeling of not having won [the game]."
Bradley will meet with U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati after the World Cup to discuss his contract with the team.