For U.S. soccer fans, the scene was tough to watch: Archrival Mexico celebrating a Gold Cup victory on American soil, cheered on by a largely pro-Mexico crowd at the Rose Bowl.
A little more than a month later, Bob Bradley has been fired as coach of the U.S. men’s soccer team.
Bradley led the team to big moments during his tenure, including Landon Donovan’s heart-stopping goal to secure a place in the round of 16 at last year’s World Cup in South Africa and an unforgettable victory over Spain in 2009.
But to some, the disappointing Gold Cup loss to a Mexico team that seems to be on the upswing was another sign that the U.S. team’s progress has stalled under Bradley.
“We want to thank Bob Bradley for his service and dedication to U.S. Soccer during the past five years,” U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati said in a statement. “During his time as the head coach of our Men’s National Team he led the team to a number of accomplishments, but we felt now was the right time for us to make a change. It is always hard to make these decisions, especially when it involves someone we respect as much as Bob. We wish him the best in his future endeavors.”
Now another coach will be given the chance to lead the Americans into another World Cup qualifying cycle beginning next year. The next World Cup is in Brazil in 2014.
With a Mexico rematch looming, an Aug. 10 exhibition in Philadelphia, U.S. Soccer likely will move quickly to select Bradley’s replacement. The federation said it will have a “further announcement” on Friday but did not provide details.
The United States has long been linked with a move for Juergen Klinsmann, former coach and player for the German national team.
Bradley was given a new deal last summer only after Gulati reached an oral agreement with Klinsmann but the sides then were unable to put the deal in writing.
Former Yankee Irabu found dead
Los Angeles — Hideki Irabu joined the New York Yankees 14 years ago in a swell of international excitement. The quirky, flamethrowing Japanese right-hander seemed destined to become a pioneering star for American baseball’s marquee franchise.
Irabu never reached those enormous expectations, and his career spiraled. On Wednesday, the 42-year-old was found dead, an apparent suicide in a home in Rancho Palos Verdes, a wealthy Los Angeles suburb.
“He was a world-class pitcher,” said former major league manager Bobby Valentine, who managed Irabu in Japan in 1995. “When Nolan Ryan saw him, he said he had never seen anything like it. There were just some days when he was as good a pitcher as I had ever seen. A fabulous arm.”
Los Angeles County coroner’s official Ed Winter said his office is investigating Irabu’s death as a suicide, revealing no additional circumstances. An autopsy will be performed today or Saturday.
Browne takes Senior Open lead
Toledo, Ohio — Olin Browne eagled two holes in a five-hole span down the stretch and finished with a 7-under 64 Thursday for a two-stroke lead after the opening round of the U.S. Senior Open.
Browne, a three-time winner on the PGA Tour in his third year on the over-50 circuit, had four birdies, two eagles and a bogey.
The 64 tied for the lowest first round ever at a U.S. Senior Open, matching Bruce Fleisher (2000), R.W. Eaks (2002) and Craig Stadler (2005). It was also the lowest Champions Tour score for Browne, although in the final rounds of his only two previous U.S. Senior Opens he had shot 65 and 66.
Playing late on an oppressively humid day at lengthy Inverness Club, Browne was two strokes clear of Mark O’Meara and Michael Allen, who each shot bogey-free 66s.
Amateur Damon Green, better known as Zach Johnson’s caddie, was at 67 with former U.S. Open champion Steve Jones and Mark Wiebe.
Top of Greenbrier Classic crowded
White Sulpher Springs, W.Va. — Trevor Immelman shot a 6-under 64 Thursday for a one-stroke lead after the first round of the Greenbrier Classic.
The former Masters champion carded seven birdies and a bogey on the redesigned Old White TPC course for his best round of the year. The South African missed the cut in last year’s inaugural event and is seeking his first top-10 finish since having wrist surgery in 2009.
Gary Woodland, Billy Mayfair, Derek Lamely, Webb Simpson and Steven Bowditch each shot 65, while four others had a 66.
Phil Mickelson, who can take over the FedEx Cup points lead with a victory, shot an even round that included five birdies and five bogeys.
Stuart Appleby, whose 59 in last year’s final round won the tournament by one shot, had a 71.
Lee leads Women’s British Open
Carnoustie, Scotland — Meena Lee overcame wet conditions to shoot a 7-under 65 on Thursday for a two-shot lead after the first round of the Women’s British Open.
The South Korean had seven birdies and no bogeys playing mainly in a heavy afternoon downpour.
Brittany Lincicome, who started her round in good conditions early in the morning, set the early pace with a 67. Among a group at 68 were Angela Stanford, South Korea’s Amy Yang, Germany’s Caroline Masson and Sweden’s Sofie Gustafson.
Lochte beats Phelps in 200 IM
Shanghai — Michael Phelps knew it would take a world record to win the 200-meter individual medley at the world championships. He just thought it would come from him.
Instead, Phelps found himself on the losing end of a close finish Thursday, watching teammate Ryan Lochte celebrate the first world record set since high-tech bodysuits were banned 11⁄2 years ago.