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US soccer team ‘capable of more’

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Associated Press
June 29, 2010
— U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati says the American team did not meet his expectations at the World Cup and he likely will meet with Bob Bradley after the tournament to discuss the coach’s future.

Bradley was hired in December 2006 and has a contract running through the end of the year. The Americans were eliminated last weekend in the second round with a 2-1 overtime loss to Ghana.


“I think the team is capable of more,” Gulati said Monday. “I think the players know it. I think Bob knows it. And so at that level we’re disappointed we didn’t get to play another 90 minutes at least.”


Gulati described Bradley as being “very disappointed” with the team’s outcome.


“The missed opportunity is partly a chance to get to the quarters and the matchup with Uruguay, but it’s also a missed opportunity to stay in the American public’s eyes for another four, five, six days, maybe 10 days, when interest is at an all-time high,” Gulati said. “I have no doubt there will still be people at bars watching games at strange times, that the TV ratings will still be good. But what the ratings might have been for a quarterfinal game or dreaming beyond that, it’s certainly a missed opportunity.”


Gulati said that extensive talks with Bradley likely will wait until Gulati returns to the U.S. after the World Cup final on July 11.


“I want to sit down with Bob. I think that’s the appropriate thing,” Gulati said. “I want to hear his views, express some of mine and see what makes sense. I think he’s done a very good job. I want to make that very clear. ... When we’ve had our ‘A’ team, the record is pretty darn good. ... The problem is that our expectations have risen pretty sharply, and there have been some performances where we didn’t play as well as we would have liked.”


Gulati said a coach can do only so much.


“I think it ultimately comes down to players,” he said. “The expectations have to be realistic. The players that are representing the U.S. are not players at Arsenal and Inter and Real Madrid and Barcelona and Chelsea and Manchester United and so on. The players we were playing against in some of these situations are.”


For Gulati, domestic and foreign coaches both have advantages.


“Having someone who understands the mentality of Americans and American players is a plus. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that,” he said. “On the other side of that, it’s also a plus to have played in a World Cup final and coached in a World Cup final, and we don’t have anyone that fits that in the United States.”


Ghana loss most-watched soccer game ever in US


The U.S. soccer team’s 2-1 loss to Ghana on Saturday was the most-watched soccer game in American television history, Nielsen Co. said Monday. It surpassed the 1994 Brazil-Italy World Cup final.


The match, seen on ABC and Univision, drew 19.4 million viewers, Nielsen said.


In 1994, 18.1 million U.S. viewers watched Brazil defeat Italy, 3-2, to win its record fourth World Cup.


The U.S. team’s 1-1 tie with England on June 12, both sides’ opening match in the 2010 World Cup, now ranks as the No. 4 most-watched match on American television.


Observers hope the American team’s showing in this year’s World Cup helps boost soccer’s appeal in a country where it has long been overshadowed by the NFL, Major League Baseball, the NBA and the NHL.


ABC is owned by Walt Disney Co. Privately held Univision is controlled by a consortium that includes Thomas H. Lee Partners, Madison Dearborn Partners, Providence Equity Partners, Texas Pacific Group and Saban Capital Group.


Big-event programming has been generating larger audiences in the past year. NBC saw powerful ratings for its Winter Olympics telecasts in February. Earlier that same month, the CBS broadcast of Super Bowl XLIV became the most-watched television program of all time, and audiences for the Golden Globe Awards and the Emmy Awards were higher on a year-over-year basis.



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