New Post: The Premier League finally has an American manager, Bob Bradley

In a move that had been expected by many, Swansea City fired coach Francesco Guidolin Monday after the club’s 2-1 loss to Liverpool at the weekend.

The replacement came as a shock to many as well, with American and former U.S. Men’s National Team coach Bob Bradley appointed to the position.

Bradley is the first American to be hired as a manager in the Premier League, considered by many to be the best league in the world.

Hiring Bradley came as a surprise to many of the team’s fans on Twitter, who doubted his experience and his previous coaching stops.

In a nutshell, that has been part of the problem for American coaches. Like soccer itself in the U.S., coaches from here do not get much respect. This is largely down to some still thinking American soccer feels like the wild west.

It is fitting justice, however, that Bradley was appointed to the job.No other American coach in recent memory deserves the title of being the first more.

To overcome the stereotype American coaches face is going to take a lot of stepping outside your comfort zone, something Bradley has been doing for years. I have always admired his fearlessness.

After taking over the U.S. from Bruce Arena in 2006 on an interim basis, Bradley acted like anything but an interim manager. He ran the team his way and gave plenty of new players their introduction, something Arena was not known for.

Upon being fired from the U.S. gig in 2011, Bradley could have shrank back into a cushy MLS job, like Arena eventually did with the New York Red Bulls. Bradley looked at the national team level again, though, signing on with Egypt and making them far more competitive.

To prove himself in Europe, Bradley went into the club coaching wilderness for the last two years, first with Stabaek in Norway and then Le Havre in the second tier of France. Bradley  almost guided the latter to French Ligue 1.

More than any American coach, Bradley has shown a tendency to step outside of what is known. He faced a tough task with Swansea, which currently sits one place above relegation with just one Premier League win, which came on the first day of the season against promoted side Burnley.

There are a few good players, such as Gylfi Sigurdsson and Leroy Fer, but the team’s spiritual leader Ashley Williams left in the summer, causing a big hole that was not immediately able to be filled.

Bradley has two weeks now to put his stamp on the club before a tough trio of games — Arsenal away, at home to Watford and Stoke away.

Many might not believe in him right away and things might be ugly, but Bob Bradley does have the experience and the confidence to lead a club in the Premier League.





Premier League Preview: Top 4, Bottom 3, Golden Boot and Fantasy

By, Kyle Gibson

It’s almost Christmas in August. The Premier League is finally upon us. New superstar managers, new superstar players, huge egos and more!

Let’s get into a quick preview, featuring the predictions Champions League sides, relegated sides, Golden Boot winner and my Fantasy EPL side.

Champions League Teams and Champions

4. Chelsea – Antonio Conte is a badass. His Italy team could have won the Euros if Germany did not beat them in penalties. I kept thinking they would win it, but I’m not sure of the back line.

3. Arsenal – Such a talented team, but Arsene Wenger still did not sign the top-of-the-line striker the club needs. Olivier Giroud looked so good at the Euros setting up Antoine Griezmann. Give him someone to work with!

2. Tottenham – “Lads (retches, sweating profusely) it’s…Tottenham.” That line from Alex Ferguson now has a different meaning. This Tottenham team is talented, deep, well drilled and only finished third last year on the final day. Spurs did not make huge changes over the summer, but did not need to.

Spurs needed a backup for Harry Kane and got that with Vincent Janssen, who scored 27 league goals for AZ last year. Adding Victor Wanyama also provides more steel in the midfield.

Many have seen the Spurs falling off, but I see the club improving.

1. Manchester United – I wish i wasn’t jinxing my favorite club. I’m just buying into the hype. Jose Mourinho has so much to prove, after the debacle last season with Chelsea.

The club worked through its central defense slightly with the emergence of Chris Smalling last year. Adding Eric Bailly in the off-season should really help.

Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrihk Mkhitaryan are the elite level signings the club has been lacking.

This all should culminate in a spellbinding year for United. Pau

Relegated Squads

20. Hull City – Ownership in turmoil. Manager Steve Bruce left just a few weeks ago. Selling their best players and not replacing them.

19. Burnley – I still think they are too small of a club, but they are a very solid team and probably the 21st best in England.

18. Swansea City – Sold the team’s heart and soul in Ashley Williams. Borja from Atletico was a solid signing, but too little. Plus, Swansea bought Leroy Fer, who relegates almost every EPL team he is with.

Golden Boot Race

Harry Kane – 24 Goals

Zlatan Ibrahimovic – 22 Goals

Jamie Vardy – 20 Goals

Sergio Aguero – 20 Goals


My Fantasy EPL Team

I believe that I will win.

Goalkeepers – Kasper Schmeichel, Adrian

Defenders – Hector Bellerin, John Stones, Wes Morgan, Antonio Valencia, Patrick van Aanholt

Midfielders – Anthony Martial, Danny Drinkwater, Andre Ayew, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Phillipe Coutinho

Forwards – Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Callum Wilson,Jermain Defoe

New Post: Three keys for the #USMNT tonight against Costa Rica in Copa America

By, Kyle Gibson

After a subpar start against Colombia in Copa America Friday, the U.S. Men’s National team returns to action Tuesday at 8 p.m. against Costa Rica.

One would assume that Colombia will beat Paraguay, but the United States essentially needs a win to keep Costa Rica at one point, forcing a necessity for a Ticos win against Colombia in the final contest.

Here are three keys for Tuesday’s match-up.

1. Do not concede an early goal: 

This is a problem I didn’t include in the last game for fear of being redundant. After all, allowing early goals has plagued the U.S. in big games for years. Cristian Zapata’s eighth-minute goal from a corner again exposed the team’s penchant for allowing early goals, while also highlighting the team’s sometimes glaring set-piece weaknesses.

Costa Rica is one of the most solid teams in the tournament, so the U.S. can simply not afford to be chasing the game for long stretches.

2. No Jermaine Jones:

Jones completely lost the plot for much of his time in the game. Feeling a youthful vigor that doesn’t match his aging skill set, Jones would often rush forward, trying to take speedy Colombian defenders on. This led to plenty of dispossession and often seemed to confuse Jones’ teammates.

I would play Darlington Nagbe instead. Nagbe has been impressive in his appearances for the squad so far and has plenty of speed and technical ability.

3. Will the real Michael Bradley please stand up? 

I mentioned Bradley as a key in my last post too, but I sincerely believe that as Bradley goes, so goes the team.

Often, Bradley did not display his trademark judgement on Friday and his passes were not crisp.Hopefully for the Yanks, Tuesday will be much better for Bradley.

Bonus: We need to talk about Clint. 

Clint Dempsey just doesn’t have “it” anymore. The skill, above average speed and love of “trying s*&t,” as he used to call it, just does not seem to be present anymore in the 33-year old.

If healthy, the central spot Dempsey is filling would more than likely be filled by Jozy Altidore. I don’t think Jurgen Klinsmann will do this, but I think Bobby Wood would be much better in this spot.

Follow @KyleisGibson on Twitter. 


New Post: Three Keys for the #USMNT Tonight against Colombia in #CopaAmerica

By, Kyle Gibson

The United States men’s national team gets Copa America Centenario started Friday night on home soil against Colombia, which ranks third in the latest FIFA rankings.

Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad is 3-10-4 all time against Colombia, with its last win coming in 2005.

While games against 23rd ranked Costa Rica and 44th ranked Paraguay won’t be as rough on paper, both sides are still very strong. This makes the first match imperative if the U.S. doesn’t want to be watching the rest of the games in the stands or on T.V.

Here are three keys that could help the Nats score three big points against the mighty Colombians.

1. Sound connection between  center-backs

We aren’t entirely sure who the center-back pairing will be for Klinsmann, but this is nothing new. He has used five so far in World Cup Qualifying. In the two tune-ups for Copa, he used John Brooks and Geoff Cameron (Bolivia) and Brooks/Steve Birnbaum (Ecuador).

I think that Brooks is a lock, but the second slot should be mystery up until the release of the line-up. Hopefully for the U.S., the central pairing performs well together and stays together throughout group play.

2. Play Michael Bradley in a defensive midfield role

This is especially important against Colombia, which sports many dynamic play-makers that can control the game in the midfield.

Klinsmann seems to like Bradley as an attacking mid, but I like him further back. I had the pleasure to watch him live once for Toronto FC and he completely controlled the game in a deeper position.

Some pundits say Bradley is near world-class when he plays this position and I agree. His trademark tireless running and organization serves the U.S. better than a Bradley that plays in an advanced role.

3. Contain James Rodriguez, Carlos Bacca and Juan Cuadrado

James Rodriguez rose to world stardom at World Cup 2014, winning the Golden Boot and best goal award. I profiled his likelihood of joining Manchester United on Thursday.

Rodriguez could give an unsteady U.S. back line fits, as could Carlos Bacca.

Bacca, a striker for A.C. Milan, scored 18 goals in 36 matches. He also has three goals in the six Colombia World Cup Qualifiers.

Juan Cuadrado had an incredible season on loan for Juventus. I could talk at length about his first touch, burst of speed and craftiness, but the video below sums it all up. I am predicting Fabian Johnson to get the start at left back tonight in order to match Cuadrado’s pace.

Follow Kyle Gibson on Twitter, @KyleisGibson

New Post: Manchester United Transfer Watch; James Rodriguez

By, Kyle Gibson

As Jose Mourinho looks to strengthen the Manchester United squad in the summer transfer window, Kicking It breaks down players whose names are caught in the Old Trafford rumor-mill. 

The Player: James Rodriguez

Rodriguez was one of the stars of the 2014 FIFA World Cup for Colombia before and made the big-money move from AS Monaco to Real Madrid. In his first season he had a huge impact in La Liga, with 13 goals and 13 assists.

That form dropped in 2015-16, largely due to injury and a change in lineup under Rafa Benitez. Rodriguez was an unused substitute in the Champions League Final last Saturday.

James has his name thrown into the hat for manager Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United transfer war-chest. So, let’s examine the pros, cons and the likelihood of the signing.


1. He’s a dynamic midfielder who can double as a central midfielder and winger. Mourinho will more than likely ship out Juan Mata, which would open up space. United doesn’t have many other attacking midfielders (we will get to one of the others in the next section), so this could help bolster the attack.

2. He scores some amazing goals and can provide some amazing assists. Just look at these highlights from last season.

3. James could be a signing to excite fans again. After the stagnant reign of Louis van Gaal, fans are looking for excitement again at Old Trafford. Mourinho isn’t known for free-flowing soccer, but his clubs tend to score plenty of goals. This is a big name who can provide some exciting finishes and flashy moves.


  1. Rodriguez is not known for his defensive capabilities, which is unfortunate because Mourinho teams are known for overall team defense. This most recently led to a freezing-out of Oscar while he was at Chelsea.
  2. What will happen with Wayne Rooney? The United legend insists that he wants to play in midfield beyond this season, after making the switch in recent weeks. If Rodriguez displaces Rooney in the middle, that could hurt the team balance. Playing him on the right could slow the development of Jesse Lingard. I think that James is personally better in the center.
  3. Real Madrid players are always rumored to make the jump to United but never do. Recent cases are Sergio Ramos, Gareth Bale, former Red Cristiano Ronaldo and Toni Kroos. The Spanish press has even more misinformation than the English press and rumors swirl all the time in Madrid, so you never truly know what’s happening.

Likelihood of Signing: Moderate

The chances should be lower than this, because the Manchester Evening News reported that Rodriguez wanted to stay at Madrid. However, this came after winning the Champions League, which is always a high even if you don’t play in it.

Also, Rodriguez could just be batting his eyes at United and other clubs.

I’m not willing to go above moderate on this signing, but I’m not willing to go any lower.

Follow Kyle Gibson on Twitter, @KyleisGibson


New Post: Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid, Champions League Final Preview and Prediction

By, Kyle Gibson

The eyes of the world will turn to Milan for an event besides fashion week this Saturday, when Real Madrid takes on Atletico Madrid in the Champions League Final.

A rematch of the 2014 final is maybe not as sexy as Real Madrid vs Bayern Munich or FC Barcelona, but this intense local derby is going to crackle on the world stage.

It did two years ago, when Gareth Bale produced his greatest moment yet in Real’s white kit, winning the team’s 10th UCL crown, the fabled “La Decima.” That final also provided a manager pitch-invasion, as Diego Simeone and Raphael Varane played a very unfriendly game of kick-around.

Let’s take a quick look at how the two sides match up this time around.

Season Meetings

Atletico owned the season series, picking up a 1-0 win in February thanks to Antoine Griezmann. The two sides drew in October.

How They Got There–Real Madrid

Real smoked Roma in the Round of 16, winning 4-0 on aggregate.

However, it took leg two heroics from Cristiano Ronaldo to propel the club past pesky Wolfsburg in the quarterfinals. Ronaldo had been criticized for much of the season for what pundits saw as diminishing skills. In this match, Ronaldo blended his all-time great skill and sheer willpower to push Madrid past the finish line in front of an electric Bernabeu crowd. He also shut up his critics.

Manchester City played a strong game against Madrid in the first leg of the semis, but were terribly meek in the second. It looked as if the Citizens could not recover from the early substitution of captain Vincent Kompany.

Special mention for manager Zinedine Zidane, who stepped in after the sacking of Rafa Benitez and turned the club’s season around as manager. Zidane is one of the best players ever and is shaping up to be quite the manager too.

How They Got There–Atletico Madrid

Atletico had the much tougher road, in my opinion. Dutch champions PSV gave Simeone’s men everything they could handle, but Atleti ultimately advanced 8-7 on penalties.

Champions League holders Barcelona came next. Barca won 2-1 at Camp Nou, forcing the game of the season at the Calderon. Atletico played out of its mind collectively, with Griezmann sealing the deal in style with a brace.

In the semis, FC Bayern were held goalless in the first leg, losing 1-0. Griezmann did it again in leg two, giving his club the deciding away goal to win the series 2-2.


Atletico Madrid 2-1 Real Madrid (After extra time)

I really hope this one doesn’t go to penalties. Frankly, Atletico deserves to win. The club has been the embodiment of team soccer this season, much like English Premier League Champs Leicester City. Gabi, Koke, Griezmann, Oblak, Saul and pretty much anyone plugged in has been superb, giving his all for the team. Simeone is one of the top three managers in the world and if you argued he was the best, not many would be mad at it.

Manchester United Transfer Watch: Zlatan Ibrahimovic

By, Kyle Gibson

As Jose Mourinho looks to strengthen the Manchester United squad in the summer transfer window, Kicking It breaks down players whose names are caught in the Old Trafford rumor-mill. 

The Player: Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Zlatan is still doing his thing at 34-years young. Being a legend/demigod? Yep. Bagging the goals? Yep. Asking to have the Eiffel Tower replaced with his likeness? Yup.

Ibra’s time in Paris has come to an end though – and he’s now available on a free transfer – which has led to rampant speculation regarding his future, including many links to Manchester United.

So, would he work at United? Let’s weigh the pros, cons and likelihood of signing.


  1. Zlatan gets along with Mourinho splendidly. Many find both the player and manager to be abrasive. But these two had a successful spell together at Inter Milan together in 2008. This could be the pairing Mourinho needs to kick start his inaugural campaign.
  2. Goals. Goals. Goals. He’s bagged them at every stop in his career and topped Ligue 1 with a whopping 38 this year. There’s probably no way he gets that in the tougher EPL, but if he gets at least 20-25 league goals, he’s well worth the signing.
  3. United needs a top striker. Wayne Rooney is now a midfielder by admission and Anthony Martial excelled on the wing. Actually, Martial became everything United fans had hoped Memphis Depay would be on the left wing. Read more about Mourinho’s need to prioritize strikers in my previous post.


  1. Is age just a number? Mourinho and  Ibra will be hoping so. 34 is the age most players retire or are winding down.
  2. Will his personality work in such a crazy climate? The English press is insane, circling like sharks from the moment Louis van Gaal showed any sign of weakness. If Zlatan makes a lot of noise like normal, but also doesn’t perform well, fans and the media alike could call the project a disaster before it even gets half a season of trial period.
  3. What about Marcus Rashford? The 18-year old had a breakout half-season, scoring eight times in 18 matches, including the winner in the FA Cup Quarterfinal Replay at West Ham, a goal-of-the-season contender. Mourinho almost never relies on youth and Zlatan is unlikely to play a huge role as mentor. The best case scenario is that Rashford excels as an impact sub and starts games that Zlatan needs to rest.

Likelihood: High

Unlike previous United fiascos involving huge names (think Thomas Muller, Sergio Ramos, Neymar, Cesc Fabregas and Wesley Sneijder), this one seems to have a good chance of actually happening.

United is one of the only clubs willing to pay the massive wage Zlatan will demand and the link with Mourinho seems to excite the player.

Follow Kyle Gibson on Twitter, @KyleIsGibson and make sure to read the next United transfer watch, which features James Rodriguez.