Bradley was an
assistant to his U.S. predecessor, Bruce Arena, on three teams ( Virginia, D.C
United and the 1996 Olympic team) before winning more games than any coach in
MLS history. Yet their styles aren't much alike. For better or for worse, Arena
was always the biggest personality on his national teams. "I'm not,"
Bradley says. "There's no two ways about it." Cerebral barely begins to
describe Bradley, a Princeton grad with a history degree who measures his words
as if they were food rations during a famine, sometimes pausing 20 seconds
before replying to a question. Bradley would rather do his work quietly,
"on the inside"--his all-purpose expression for his daily interactions
with the players that set a tone of mutual respect. "My favorite expression
is blood brothers," says Bradley, 49. "You want to make sure that's how
they feel about each other within the group."
And so, one day
earlier this year, the new coach used the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team as a
motivating tool. Considering that half his team wasn't born yet in 1980,
"you do it a little bit as a joke because you're dating yourself," says
Bradley, who started by telling his players that most of them would only know
the hockey team from the movie Miracle. "But the point I made was they were
together literally a year before the Olympics, there were no guarantees who was
going to make the final team, and unless you were a real college hockey guy,
you didn't know the names of many of those players. Ultimately when the team
was successful, that's when everybody learned their names."
winning goal in the Gold Cup isn't the same thing as earning an Olympic gold
medal, but by Sunday afternoon a lot more people knew the name Benny Feilhaber.
Within hours he was being asked if he was proud to be the latest Jewish sports
star (for the record, he said yes), and he was preparing to jet off to
Venezuela for the next challenge: opening the Copa Am�rica, the South American
championship, this Thursday as part of a young U.S. squad against full-strength
Argentina. "We're not bringing our best team," Feilhaber says, "but
we'll be out there fighting."
Sounds like the
casting call for a band of blood brothers.