RUSTENBURG, South Africa – Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. But US coach Bob Bradley makes no bones about how far the US can go in this World Cup.
“We're capable, if we continue to build on the successes so far, we can go to the end,” the US head coach said on Friday ahead of his team’s Round of 16 match against Ghana at Royal Bafokeng Stadium.
To the World Cup final? Really? Yes, Bradley said. He honestly believes that his troops have the makeup to go all the way to the end of this tournament. No US team has ever advanced that far, not even the 1930 team that went to the semifinals of the first-ever World Cup.
“We believe that working for the team and working for each other is important, but it would be an unfair assessment of our team to stop there,” he explained. “We have some individual players who have made the kind of special plays that you need to go far in a tournament or win championships.”
There’s still work to be done, of course, Bradley pointed out. The Americans must get past a tough Ghana side on Saturday, one that is well organized, talented and athletic. The Black Stars are the last remaining African team in the tournament, and they are every bit as confident as this American side. Worse, they’re unpredictable. And the US need to take that into account.
“You think they're going to pass, and the last second they try to dribble,” Bradley said. “You think they're going to go left, and they surprise you and go right. The ability that players have, that's part of their quality – talented players who are creative and we're not really sure what they're going to do.”
Regardless, Bradley said, his team is aware of the opportunity they have, to defeat Ghana and get a shot at the semifinals. Then, perhaps, to go where no US squad has ever gone before.
“We try hard not to get ahead of ourselves,” Bradley explained, “but at the same time, if everybody gives their best effort, if everybody puts everything they have into it, if things go our way, we can go far."
MLSsoccer.com managing editor Jonah Freedman is in South Africa all this month.
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