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Bradley’s impact already evident in Chicago.

By Jerry Langdon
Gannett News Service

(Thursday, May 21, 1998) -- Bob Bradley is highly regarded in the soccer coaching fraternity.

He had years of success at Princeton before coming to (Washington) D.C. United as chief assistant, helping the Washington franchise under Bruce Arena to two straight Major League Soccer titles. His name frequently came up when coaching vacancies developed, particularly in New York.

He went to Chicago this year to handle the expansion Fire and already has made an impact.

It hasn't been an easy haul -- he probably would prefer a 4-4-2 formation but uses 3-5-2 due to personnel -- and the season isn't even a third completed. However, the team (4-5) reached a milestone last night with a dramatic victory, 3-1, against Los Angeles, ending the Galaxy's 15-game regular-season winning streak.

A pre-game decision to stress offense was pivotal in the outcome. "We are making strikes towards being a good team, not being considered an expansion team," Bradley said. "We got into the game right away and attacked quite a bit. We weren't on our heels defending. We didn't want to play a wide-open game with L.A., but we still played an aggressive, attacking game."

The starting lineup included:
* Goalkeeper Zach Thornton (two starts last year).
* Defender C.J. Brown (a starter with San Francisco Bay Seals, an amateur team), outstanding against the Galaxy.
* Midfielder Jesse Marsch (one start last year).
* Forward Ante Razov (no starts last year).

Add to this list:
* Defender Francis Okaroh, not protected by New England, brilliant against the Galaxy.
* Midfielder Chris Armas, traded reluctantly by Los Angeles.
* Midfielder/forward Frank Klopas, traded initially by Kansas City.

The four other starters are internationals, not from Latin America, where MLS prefers to concentrate.
* Defender Lubos Kubik, Czech Republic, outstanding.
* Midfielder Peter Nowak, Poland, a candidate for MVP.
* Midfielder/forward Roman Kosecki, Poland, solid but should be better.
* Forward Jerzy Podbrozny, Poland, a late arrival.

The big-name player in a city with the third-largest Hispanic population in the United States? Goalkeeper Jorge Campos, who has played just one game, a loss, in between commitments with the Mexican national team, where he is expected to start in the World Cup.

Bradley doesn't have a powerhouse, obviously, but he has stressed defense and the Fire has been respectable in all games this year. He unleashed a surprise Wednesday, going strongly on the attack against the explosive Galaxy, and the result was a victory in which the Fire had a solid advantage in play.

Rather than using two forwards, he used all four -- though putting two at the wings, Klopas and Kosecki, in the 3-5-2 alignment. Razov, recovering from a shoulder injury, made his first start and set up Kosecki's game-winning goal.

"Am I a genius? There's no such thing," Bradley said. "It's a fine line, trying to know how to attack and go forward without leaving yourself too wide open," he told the Chicago Sun-Times. "We felt this was a good opportunity, playing at home, to put our best attacking players on the field. A lot of came down to those players accepting the responsibilities to both attack and defend."

Chicago players furthermore take umbrage at references to them as defensive-oriented. There was nothing different from what we showed in our other games," Armas said. "We just finished some chances."

A factor in pre-game strategy planning, he also did a brilliant job containing the Galaxy offensive engine, midfielder Mauricio Cienfuegos.

Jerry Langdon is sports editor of Gannett News Service and can be e-mailed at jlangdon@gns.gannett.com.