CHICAGO – Tim Howard and Jozy Altidore haven’t played for Bob Bradley since he was axed as US national team manager in the summer of 2011, but it’s clear that the years haven’t lessened their admiration for the newly-hired LAFC head coach.
The 2017 MLS All-Stars were both clear on Monday: They think he’ll be a huge success with the incoming expansion club.
“I think he’s beyond the right fit,” said Altidore, who earned his first 42 USMNT caps under Bradley. “I hope they’re patient, LAFC, because I think he’s a guy that can build something over the next decade that can be really special. In terms of experience, there’s nobody better in American soccer. He’s coached at every level now, knows exactly what it takes at each level to be successful. Just his knowhow and experience, there’s not many coaches that have that.
“And being in a big environment like LA and the pressures that come with that, they’re going to want a winning team and they’re going to want a winning team in a certain way. I think Bob’s prepared for all that and I think he’ll hit it out of the park.”
Howard goes way back with Bradley, briefly playing for him with the MetroStars before moving to Manchester United in 2003 and racking up 49 national team appearances under the New Jersey native. Howard is confident Bradley’s history of success with expansion teams – he led the Chicago Fire to the MLS Cup-US Open Cup double in their inaugural season in 1998 and guided a second-year Chivas USA team to the playoffs in 2006 – will serve him well with LAFC when they make their MLS debut next year.
“Bob’s the right fit for a lot of teams. He’s a brilliant coach,” Howard told MLSsoccer.com. “He’s done this before with Chicago, I think it was 1998 was their inaugural season. He has coached big, big players [Hristo] Stoichkov and [Youri] Djorkaeff to name only two. LA seems to be that kind of team – glitz and glamor. There’s going to be some big names, they’re going to have those speed bumps that come in your first season and there’s no better person to handle it than Bob Bradley.”
Both Howard and Altidore cited Bradley’s legendary work ethic when explaining why they think he’ll be successful from the jump with LAFC. Howard went a step further, saying he expects the players LAFC sign this winter to reflect Bradley’s near-singular focus on his teams.
“Bob is, he’s intense,” Howard said. “It’s hard to say he’s a student of the game, because he’s already so wise. He’s so dedicated to his profession, to his team, everything he does is solely based on trying to improve the team each and every day. For Bob, there’s no days off, there’s no thinking about something else. It is 24 hours a day focused on how he can best prepare his team for an upcoming game.
“He’s also looking beyond and trying to create an environment of winning so the people he recruits, the team he selects are very much cut from the cloth that he is. Bob Bradley’s teams always, always mirrored who he is as a person and who he is as a coach.”