Thursday, May 11, 2006

Job Security

There are probably 4 statements that 90% of US Soccer fans would agree with

1. Kasey Keller is a deity

2. DaMarcus Beasley is tougher than most international players twice his size

3. Landon Donovan, while a star, isn't as ambitious as we'd like him to be

4. Bruce Area REALLY knows what he's doing.

If Bruce were coaching the Lions of England, the Tri-Colores of Mexico, or the Azurri of Italy, he'd be criticized daily. Reporters would be listing his successors, and offering him daily advice on his to do his job.

This has much to do with the importance of soccer in those countries, much to do with the traditional relationship between national soccer coach and the media, and mostly to do with the fact that America is still a developing soccer country. When your historical competition is Bob Gansler, Bora, Steve Sampson and a bunch of guys that nobody can name, it's not hard to look pretty good. Still, Bruce has an almost untouchable quality about him. He's like the Whitey Herzog of baseball, unconcerned with being liked, and supremely confident in his mental acumen. When asked about up-and-comer Bobby Convey, Bruce praised him, but added that he still needs to prove himself. About former scoring phenom Eddie Johnson, Bruce reminded that his scoring prowess was mostly media-created, and came against lower competition. While both statements are true, this isn't a guy trying to earn his players trust and respect. I once stood next to him in an elevator at RFK Stadium. Nothing flashy about him; he doesn't carry the air of celebrity - he's just a guy who knows how to do what he needs to, and is no-frills about getting there. In short, exactly the kind of guy whom I would want as national team coach.