Bob Bradley - LAFC - October 28, 2020
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

LAFC coach Bob Bradley sees bright future for USMNT after Wales friendly

Bob Bradley is excited about the future of the US men’s national team after watching a young, mostly European-based squad play Wales to a 0-0 draw in an international friendly in Swansea Thursday.

Bradley called that match “just a start,” and while he doesn’t believe much can be drawn tactically from the friendly, with the group only having a few training sessions together before ending a nine-month international hiatus, the LAFC coach, and former USMNT manager, believes the future of Gregg Bethalter’s program is bright.

“It’s fantastic that there’s some young, exciting players,” he said in a video conference call with reporters Friday. “When you have guys playing in big clubs like Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund, Chelsea, on and on, getting Champions League experience, that is certainly going to be something that’s going to be important for us moving forward, guys that are week in and week out getting tested at the highest level.

“Now we just need time. This game [Thursday] is just a start, there’s only a day or two of training so you can’t go by much. It wasn’t a game you would want to dive deep into any type of analysis other than I think all of us see some young, exiting players and that bodes well for the future.”

Bradley also coaches some young, exciting talent, albeit mostly South American-based. Those players, including Diego Rossi, Brian Rodriguez, Jose Cifuentes and Diego Palacios, are competing in Conmebol World Cup qualifying. Bradley expressed “frustration” that due to quarantine requirements he’ll likely not have his optimal side when LAFC take on the Seattle Sounders in a Round One match of the Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs Nov. 24 (10:30 pm ET | TV & streaming info) at CenturyLink Field.

But he says he knows, whoever is on the field for both teams, there are certain tactical chess matches to watch out for with Brian Schmetzer’s side.

“Yes, we’ve had really good games with Seattle, always interesting the differences between home games and away games,” Bradley said. “Typically, they have ideas on how they try to close down the center of the field against us. So, our ability to find the right spacing, find the right passes and then our understanding of picking the right moments to press [is key].

“They’ve got dangerous attackers with [Raul] Ruidiaz and Jordan Morris and of course [Nico] Lodeiro is smart. If you’re stepping up at the wrong time, then Lodeiro’s eye to put certain balls behind and cause trouble is something that we’re certainly aware of. A lot of little details for both teams to consider in a big game.”

One player Bradley will be able to call on for the match is Bradley Wright-Phillips, who on Friday was named the MLS Comeback Player of the Year. The veteran striker’s “personal situation is squared away and he is back into regular training,” Bradley said.

As for who will be starting in goal between Kenneth Vermeer and Pablo Sisniega, Bradley said that’s “to be determined.”