United States national soccer team head coach Bob Bradley responds to a question from a reporter at a news conference in Irene June 27, 2010, one day after the U.S. team lost to Ghana in their second round match in the 2010 World Cup.  REUTERS/Brian Snyder  (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP)

I wrote before the tournament started that I thought Bob Bradley's tenure as U.S. National Team head coach would end no matter the ultimate outcome for the Americans; it's just over a month later and I'm feeling pretty good about that prediction. Bradley has yet to sit down with U.S. Soccer boss Sunil Gulati to discuss his future, and though he's said flatly that he would be honored to return for another bite at the apple, it's easy to imagine he'd be just as happy to move on. Gulati has remained non-committal, and with J├╝rgen Klinsmann talking like a man who'd like the job, there's an air of inevitability to Bobbo's departure.


What's next for Bob has become the hot topic, with English sources linking him to the vacant top job at Fulham. I've not taken the temperature of many Fulham fans on the possibility, though I know at least one American that is against it, but the possibility is intriguing for those of us on the outside. Fulham's history as a home for Americans is one factor, but the truly mouth-watering nature of it all is the prospect of having an American coach at a top-flight club in one of the world's biggest leagues. That's a glass ceiling American soccer has yet to break through, so Bob in London would represent a major step forward.


Of course I worry. I worry that the bar is set pretty high at Fulham, Europa League final and all, and that a complete bomb of a performance there would set American coaches back in the minds of the footballing world. Yes, this is my Yank inferiority complex rearing its ugly head; I recognize it even as it forces its way out. But Bob's as good as any to carry the American standard to the wilds of Europe in search of coaching gold, so I'm certainly more hopeful he gets a shot somewhere recognizable. He might actually be better served somewhere less visible, but the longer affect on the reputation of Americans would be muted.


Not that I'm quite buying the Fulham rumors. It smacks of something the English press would cook up; the club has American connections, Bradley's name is recognizable thanks to the World Cup match-up with England, and speculation is easy. Hard facts are still short, and too many stories mentioning the rumors simply say "reports out of England" without actually linking to those reports. Has Bradley's name been mentioned at Craven Cottage? Possibly. But it's a big step from there to his actually being a serious candidate.


While I'm fairly confident that Bradley won't be retained, I'm much more unsure of when the break will happen. Bradley's contract runs out in December and the team has an August friendly coming up with Brazil; does the Fed keep him around to coach that game, a "Bradley Era" swan song, or do they make a switch beforehand so as to introduce their new face? The timeline is relatively short for that, so unless there's a basic agreement in place with the next coach (ahem, JK), it might not be possible. They could also let Bradley go and have an interim coach handle the Brazil match.


Regardless of whether Bob Bradley lands at Fulham or not, the simple fact that his name is being mentioned for that job is a positive step for American coaches. Bradley is currently the best of the lot, and it may take another batch of years before someone else reaches his level of prestige, but rarely do these things happen overnight. Bradley is a speculative candidate at Craven Cottage because he's proven himself capable of solid soccer management, and done it on a big stage; whether that reputation reflects upon other American coaches is difficult to know. It certainly can't hurt.
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