BREAKING: Bob Bradley fired as US coach

Bob Bradley has been relieved of his duties as head coach of the US national team, the US Soccer announced in a surprise statement on Thursday afternoon.

“We want to thank Bob Bradley for his service and dedication to U.S. Soccer during the past five years,” US Soccer President Sunil Gulati said in a statement. “During his time as the head coach of our Men’s National Team he led the team to a number of accomplishments, but we felt now was the right time for us to make a change. It is always hard to make these decisions, especially when it involves someone we respect as much as Bob. We wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

US Soccer is expected to have a further announcement on Friday.

Bradley was hired as head coach in January 2007, replacing his onetime mentor, Bruce Arena. Bradley was first named interim head coach, while the federation reportedly negotiated with several other candidates, including former Germany manager Jurgen Klinsmann.

During Bradley's five years in charge, he compiled a 43-25-12 record. His sides accomplished many things, including winning the 2007 Gold Cup and reaching the final of both the 2009 Confederations Cup and the 2009 Gold Cup. However, there was a sense among many observers that the team was not progressing as quickly as hoped. They were also plagued with a continual habit of starting matches slowing and being forced to expend tremendous energy to come back.

In 2010, the US won their group in the World Cup for the first time, following second-half comebacks against Algeria and Slovenia. They then fell to Ghana, 2-1, in the round of 16, a disappointing result for many fans and pundits who believed the US should have beaten Ghana.

Despite a great deal of media pressure and reported links with European clubs, Bradley's contract as US head coach was extended for another four years in August 2010.

Last month, the USA again reached the final of the Gold Cup, but they did not do so very convincingly. The US finished second in their group after losing to Panama -- the Americans' first group-stage loss in Gold Cup history -- and several internal issues appeared to affect the team. In the final, the US held a 2-0 lead on bitter rivals Mexico in the first half before collapsing and losing, 4-2, a result which now appears to have blown the final whistle on Bradley's tenure as US national team head coach.