Bob Bradley is the father of Michael Bradley, the former captain of the United States national soccer team. The elder Bradley also led the program from 2006 to 2011, leading it to a World Cup appearance and three Gold Cup finals.
The younger Bradley is still a midfielder for this year’s Gold Cup roster, wearing No. 4. He is expected to be on the pitch for tonight’s semifinals against Jamaica in Nashville (9:30 p.m. EST, FS1 and Univision). Bob is currently stateside, managing the Los Angeles Football Club in the MLS.
The 61-year-old is a pioneer in coaching, breaking into European football unlike any other American before him. Here’s what you need to know.
1. He Worked His Way Up the U.S. Coaching Ladder for 25 Years From College to the MLS
Robert Frank Bradley was born in 1958 in Montclair (N.J.). He didn’t have to go too far for college, doing well enough academically and athletically to go to nearby Princeton. According to the Princeton website, he graduated in 1980.
A history major, Bradley wrote his senior thesis on “The History of Intercollegiate Athletics at Princeton,” and was joint top scorer on the 1979 team that was Princeton’s most successful up to that point. Bradley was also a varsity baseball player during his freshman year, and a broadcaster at WPRB as a junior and senior.
Shortly after his time in the Ivy League, Bradley attended Ohio University for a graduate degree in sports administration. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, he got his coaching career started with the Bobcats.
“OU, baby,” Bradley said this past April. “You ever been to Athens? I want to get back there.”
After a short stint as an assistant at Virginia (led by another former USMNT coach in Bruce Arena), he took the head coaching job back at his alma mater in Princeton. He led the Tigers to a pair of Ivy League titles over 11 seasons, highlighted by an NCAA Final Four appearance in 1993.
According to Ian Palmer, Bradley took his coaching prowess from the college ranks to the newly-formed Major League Soccer. In 1996, he joined former Virginia colleague Arena as an assistant on D.C United.
When Major League Soccer (MLS) was christened in 1996, Bradley hooked up with Arena and assisted him in managing DC United. They made a great pair and the Washington based side won the MLS Cup in the league’s first two seasons. Bradley then headed west in 1998 and became the first manager of the expansion team Chicago Fire. The club won the MLS Cup and US Open Cup double in its first year of existence and Bradley took home the MLS Coach of the Year award. He added to his trophy case in 2000 too when Chicago won the Open Cup, and was building an impressive reputation.
He would win Coach of the Year again in 2005 with Chivas USA in Los Angeles. This set up a chance on the national team as an assistant.
2. He Took Over as USMNT Interim Coach in 2007, Winning a Gold Cup & Advancing to the Knockout Stage in the World Cup
After Arena went 0-2-1 in the 2006 World Cup, Bradley was promoted to interim coach of the USMNT. His first big tournament came in the 2007 Gold Cup. He led the Americans to an undefeated record, sweeping Panama, Canada and Mexico in the elimination rounds by 2-1 scores in each match.
Benny Feilhaber converted a volley in the 73rd minute against Mexico for the game-winning goal. It still stands as the only time the United States has topped rival Mexico in a Gold Cup final.
Bradley’s next major achievement came at the 2009 Confederation’s Cup. After barely sneaking into the semifinals, his team booted top-ranked Spain with a 2-0 upset. It advanced the United States to its only-ever tournament final outside of the CONCACAF, where Bradley and company blew a 2-0 lead in a 3-2 defeat to Brazil.
This all led to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The Americans tied England and Slovenia in the Group Stage, leading to a dramatic 1-0 decision over Algeria to advance to the knockout round for the first time since 2002. The run ended with a 2-1 loss to Ghana.
His success led to speculation that he would jump to the Premier League with Ashton Villa. After a 4-2 loss to Mexico in the 2011 Gold Cup final, he was replaced by German-born Jurgen Klinsmann.
Bradley’s final record with the national team was 42-25-13 over 80 matches.
3. Now a Journeyman, Bradley Made History as the 1st-Ever American Coach in the Premier League with Swansea City
Bradley’s success with the national team led to a job with Egypt’s struggling program. Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times credits the American with building the foundation that led the country to reach its first World Cup in 28 years last summer in Russia.
In particular, Bradley maintained order on a team dealing with external issues during the Arab Spring earlier this decade.
The coach’s job was to restore normalcy and order, and Bradley did that, in part by getting his players to concentrate on the World Cup. If the country could survive a revolution, surely its national team could survive a little qualifying tournament.
After falling one game short of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup, Bradley was canned. He jumped to a first-league Norwegian club named Stavrek. This eventually blossomed into a position with Swansea City in the Premier League.
Bradley became the first-ever American to coach in the esteemed football league. Following a 2-7-2 record over just 11 games, he was fired. He reflected on his time in England with an article in the Players’ Tribune.
“When I was introduced at Swansea City, I was asked what it meant to be the first American manager in the Premier League,” he wrote. “My answer was simple and straightforward: I was proud. Very proud. But then I quickly switched gears because I didn’t think any of Swansea’s diehard supporters would care about that angle. A day or so later, a journalist wrote that I was defensive about being American. That was wrong. I just didn’t think it mattered.”
He has coached LAFC since 2017.
4. Bob Has Enjoyed Watching His Son Michael Develop Into One of America’s Better Players
Michael has accomplished much in soccer as a player. He has scored in two World Cups, makes a healthy salary in the MLS and captained the USMNT for a long stretch. According to an interview with the Hamilton Spectator in 2018, his father is “dead proud” of him.
“Look I’m proud of him. He’s grown in a lot of ways. When you have a son, you try to teach your son what it’s like to be a man,” Bob said before a match between Michael’s Toronto FC and LAFC. “When you see him as a father, husband, brother, you see the way he handles himself, you see the strength that he has even in tough moments, what he’s all about. Listen, I’m dead proud of that.”
5. Bob is Married With 2 Children & Has a Brother Who Coaches Baseball at Princeton
Bob is married to Lindsay Sheehan, who used to play lacrosse at Virginia. In addition to fathering Michael, he has a daughter named Ryan. She is dating a soccer player named Andy Rose, according to the Telegraph.
Bob also has a brother named Scott Bradley, who played professional baseball from 1981 to 1992. According to his Princeton bio, he played 604 games in the MLB, hitting .257 with 18 home runs and 184 RBIs in 1,648 at-bats. He ended up becoming the Tigers head coach in the 1990s. He just finished in 22nd season.
Another of Bob’s brothers is Jeff Bradley, who is a sportswriter that used to work for ESPN The Magazine. Jeff wrote a blog following Bob’s run through the 2010 World Cup.