USA Vs. Mexico, 2011 Gold Cup Final: Cherundolo's Best and Bradley's End - The Bent Musket

When Steve Cherundolo went down Saturday against Mexico, all the energy and effort from the US Men's National Team seemed to go with him. From there manager Bob Bradley went to his bench and placed probably the one guy that few US fans wanted to see on the field, Jonathan Bornstein. A decision like that could easily cost Bradley his job with the USMNT. 

Steve Stoehr at SB Nation's New England Revolution Blog The Bent Musket saw Cherundolo's injury as a deal breaker for the US against Mexico. The substitution of Bornstein instead of moving Eric Lichaj or Carlos Bocanegra around in the defense proved to be too costly.

That substitution was a case of Bob Bradley continuing to play inexplicable favorites. Bornstein has been a Bradley era mainstay ever since he took over the national team, and one thing that Bob has always done is stick to his shortlist of favored players. Another thing he's demonstrated is an inability to adjust tactics when playing with the lead. The fact that the Yanks went from 2-0 up to a 2-4 loss should be all the indication anyone needs that he has gotten no better at that.

Bradley's tactics lend themselves to being an underdog. He tends to come out with a slightly lame gameplan early on that is focused on weathering the storm and trying to discover opponents' weaknesses in the first half, almost as though he's doing all of his scouting in-game. Then, "Coach Rope-a-dope" makes tactical switches and subs in the second half, snatching a draw from the jaws of defeat or managing a gutsy one- or two-goal victory. Against equal or lesser opposition, or if the USA unexpectedly gains an advantage early, this tactic nearly always comes back to bite him.

I've always said that Bornstein was a "Bradley guy" and that he could one day cost Bradley more than just a big game like this one against Mexico. It is always the little things that go the longest way in sports and it's possible that Cherundolo's injury resulted in one of the worst possible moves by Bradley. 

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