A native of New Jersey and graduate of Princeton University, Bradley came to prominence managing the United States and Egypt men's national teams. Before taking over the U.S. national team in 2006, he coached in the American college game and Major League Soccer (MLS), managing the Chicago Fire, MetroStars, and Chivas USA over nine seasons. He then became the first American to manage a team in a European first division with Stabæk of Norway. He then moved on to French club Le Havre and Swansea City, becoming the first American to manage a Premier League club. He was sacked less than three months later after a poor run of form.
Bradley was born and raised in New Jersey, playing soccer at West Essex High School and Princeton University. Following his graduation from Princeton, Bradley briefly worked in the Procter & Gamble executive training program before entering the Ohio University sports management graduate school in 1981. While there, Bradley's managing career began when he was named head coach of the Ohio University Bobcats's NCAA Division I soccer program at the age of 22. After two seasons with Ohio, Bradley worked as an assistant coach and scout for University of Virginia manager Bruce Arena for two years before taking the top job at his alma mater, Princeton. Bradley led the Tigers from 1984 to 1995, winning two Ivy League titles and reaching the NCAA Final Four in 1993.
In 1996, Bradley was hired again as Arena's assistant, this time with D.C. United of Major League Soccer, the then newly formed U.S. professional league. After back-to-back championship seasons with DC, he became the first head coach of the Chicago Fire, an expansion team that began play in 1998. Bradley steered the newly assembled squad to the MLS Cup and U.S. Open Cup double in its first season and was named MLS Coach of the Year for his achievements. He won a third trophy in 2000, when the Fire again won the Open Cup.
After the 2002 MLS season, Bradley resigned as manager of the Fire to return to New Jersey as head coach of the MetroStars. Bradley began his tenure with the historically underachieving team headed in the right direction as the MetroStars advanced to the U.S. Open Cup final for the first time in club history in 2003 as well as earning a playoff berth. Bradley also gained attention for an infamous incident in a match against D.C. United that season in which he exploited an MLS rule allowing a 4th substitution for a goalkeeper by switching starting goalkeeper Tim Howard into an outfield player so that midfielder Eddie Gaven (who would go on to score the winning goal) could enter the game classified as a goalkeeper, before switching positions with Howard after ten seconds of play.
Bradley stayed with the MetroStars for three years before he was fired with three games left in the 2005 regular season. The club had suffered losses in back-to-back fixtures and diminishing playoff prospects prior to Bradley's firing. Shortly after leaving the MetroStars, Bradley was named the manager at Los Angeles club Chivas USA for the 2006 season. Bradley revived a Chivas USA team that had endured a poor inaugural season in 2005, discovering young talents such as Sacha Kljestan and Jonathan Bornstein and leading the team to a third-place finish in the Western Conference before losing in the playoffs to eventual champions Houston Dynamo.
Following the U.S. men's national team's disappointing showing at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, U.S. Soccer appointed Bradley the interim coach of the team. Although Bradley was widely tipped to be a future national team manager, perhaps for the 2014 World Cup cycle, most observers and several national team players expected U.S. Soccer to hire recently departed Germany manager and California resident Jürgen Klinsmann, due to his success and connections to American soccer. However, after contract negotiations with Klinsmann fell through, U.S. Soccer quickly named Bradley interim manager on December 8, 2006. Although many saw Bradley as a second choice, he quickly went about building a strong foundation for the team, introducing younger players to the squad and approaching the job as though he already was, or would soon become, the permanent manager.
His tenure began successfully, and after a series of successful friendlies which included a 2–0 win over Mexico, U.S. Soccer removed Bradley's interim title and officially named him manager on May 15, 2007. He continued his success that summer, leading the United States to the 2007 Gold Cup Final, where it beat rivals Mexico 2–1 for the second time in four months on a stunning volley by Benny Feilhaber. In his first year as manager, Bradley built a record of 12 wins, 1 draw, and 5 losses, going undefeated for a period of ten games over five months.
Despite the highs of the Gold Cup victory, the U.S. did not fare as well in 2007 Copa América, though U.S. Soccer sent a roster mostly made up of younger MLS-based players. This was partly because this was the second competition for the U.S. in the summer of 2007 after the Gold Cup, and partly because clubs were not officially obligated to release their players for this tournament, as the U.S. was not obligated to play in it, and was an invited guest of CONMEBOL. The team lost its first game in the Bradley era to Argentina in the tournament opener 4–1. That game was Bradley's first away game with national team and their first loss in over a year since losing to Ghana in the 2006 World Cup. The Americans finished Copa América without a point after losing its other two games to Paraguay and Colombia. The U.S. also went on to lose consecutive games away to Sweden and at home to Brazil. However, Bradley's first year in charge ended on a high note with a pair of away wins against Switzerland and South Africa.
In early 2008, Bradley and U.S. Soccer scheduled several high-profile friendlies against some of the world's elite teams as a way of preparing the team for 2010 World Cup qualification that would begin in the fall. After a 2–2 draw in the annual Mexico friendly, the U.S. lost 2–0 away to England, 1–0 away to Spain, and held Argentina to a 0–0 draw back at home. In the Second Round of CONCACAF qualifying the U.S. beat Barbados 8–0 at home, the largest victory for the U.S. in its history, and 0–1 away. In the Third Round the Americans dominated their group, which included Guatemala, Trinidad and Tobago, and Cuba, and advanced along with Trinidad and Tobago to the Fourth Round. Bradley and the U.S. started the Fourth Round in strong form, with a 2–0 defeat of rivals Mexico, with both goals provided by his son, Michael.
In 2009 Bradley led the U.S. team to an unlikely second-place finish in the 2009 Confederations Cup, including a 2–0 semifinal victory over European champions Spain, ending the Spaniards' 35-game unbeaten streak and 15-game winning streak. In the final, Bradley's U.S. team opened up a 2–0 lead on Brazil before losing 3–2. With the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup taking place immediately following the Confederations Cup, Bradley selected a largely second-tier squad, which advanced to the final before losing 5–0 to Mexico. With a 3–2 away win against Honduras on October 10, the team secured qualification for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
At the World Cup finals in South Africa, the U.S. finished on top of Group C after a 1–1 draw with England, a 2–2 draw with Slovenia, and a 1–0 victory over Algeria off a dramatic late goal by Landon Donovan. In the knockout round, Bradley and the U.S. faced African powerhouse Ghana, who eliminated the Americans for the second consecutive World Cup with a 2–1 victory in extra time following a 1–1 draw.
Following the World Cup, Bradley signed a contract extension in August 2010 to remain as the U.S. coach until the 2014 World Cup after a reported approach from English club Aston Villa. In June 2011 Bradley led the U.S. to the final of the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup despite a loss to Panama in the group stage, but an early 2–0 lead in the final was overturned by Mexico, who eventually won 4–2. On July 28, 2011, he was relieved of his duties by the United States Soccer Federation to be replaced by former Germany national team manager Jürgen Klinsmann.
On September 14, 2011, Bradley reached a deal to take over as manager of the Egypt national team beginning October 15, 2011. He made his debut as head coach on November 14, 2011, in a friendly against Brazil, in which Egypt lost 2–0. Bradley was praised for choosing to live in Egypt despite the unrest following the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 and continuing to guide the Pharaohs despite the suspension of the Egyptian Premier League following the Port Said Stadium riot.
Egypt was perfect in its first six matches of qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, but fell decisively to Ghana in the third round playoffs. Bradley was not retained following Egypt's elimination. American Pharaoh, a documentary by Hossam Aboul-Magd about Bradley's tenure in Egypt, aired on PBS on June 16, 2014.
It was reported on January 2, 2014, that Bradley had agreed to manage Stabæk Fotball in Norway, making him the first American to manage a club in a European top flight. Bradley's competitive debut with Stabæk came on March 30, 2014, a 3–0 home win over Sogndal. During this tenure the club reached the qualifying phase of the Europa League, also a first for an American coach. On November 5, 2015, Stabæk announced that Bradley would be leaving the club at the end of the 2015 season to pursue other jobs.
On November 10, 2015, Bradley was officially named as the new manager of French Ligue 2 side Le Havre AC, signing a two-year contract. He recorded his first win at the club on December 1 against Evian TG in a 3–2 victory at home. Bradley led the team to a tie on points with FC Metz for third place in the league and the final promotion place, but the team was left in fourth based on the goals scored tiebreaker.
Bradley managed his final match on October 3, 2016, a league home game against Sochaux, which Le Havre won 2–1.
On October 3, 2016, Bradley was appointed as the new Swansea City manager after Francesco Guidolin's dismissal. The Swansea supporters trust – who own a 21% stake in the club – issued a statement saying they were 'disappointed' in the new appointment given Bradley had been appointed without them being consulted. With the appointment, Bradley became the first American to manage a Premier League club. Many fans and pundits criticized the appointment, suggesting that he had been given the job by the club's new American owners by virtue of being American.
On the December 27, 2016, following a 1–4 defeat by West Ham, Bradley was sacked by Swansea after only 85 days and 11 games in charge of the club, the second shortest reign of any manager in the history of the Premier League. He left with a record of 7 losses, 2 draws and 2 wins conceding 29 goals – the most goals conceded by any Premier League club in the same time period, with Swansea gaining only 8 (24.2%) out of a maximum 33 points available for the 11 game period – an average of 0.73 points per game. In a club statement, Huw Jenkins, the Swansea chairman, said: “We are sorry to lose Bob after such a short period of time. Unfortunately things haven’t worked out as planned and we felt we had to make the change with half the Premier League season remaining. Personally, I have nothing but praise for Bob. He is a good man; a good person who gave everything to the job. His work-rate is phenomenal and we wish him well for the future.”
Following his sacking, Bradley said that the club's owners Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien were swayed by a "negative atmosphere" at the club and failed to realize this was a project and that they needed to stick to the plan. He also said: "You can look at even top managers and recognize that in a league as competitive as the Premier League, anyone can go through a stretch of 10 or 11 games where you don't get the results you should.''
On July 27, 2017, Bradley was announced as the coach for the inaugural season of Los Angeles FC, an expansion MLS team starting play in the 2018 season.As of match played December 26, 2016.
Bradley's brother Scott Bradley played for the Seattle Mariners and three other Major League Baseball teams in the 1980s and 1990s, and is the current baseball coach at Princeton University. Another brother, Jeff Bradley, is a sports journalist who has worked for ESPN and the New York Daily News.
Bradley is married to Lindsay (née Sheehan), a former University of Virginia lacrosse player. Their son, Michael, was drafted by the MetroStars in the 2004 MLS SuperDraft, and played in the Eredivisie, Bundesliga, Premier League and Serie A before transferring to Toronto FC in January 2014. Michael currently captains the U.S. national team.Chicago Fire
MLS Cup: 1998
U.S. Open Cup: 1998, 2000
CONCACAF Gold Cup:
Runners-up: 2009, 2011
FIFA Confederations Cup: