Remembering Gordon Bradley: Tony Limarzi

043008_GordonBradley_P.jpg

Yesterday, we received the sad news that Gordon Bradley had passed away at the age of 74 years. The Englishman had been involved in soccer in the U.S. in some fashion for the last 35 years and was unquestionably one of the most influential soccer figures in both the U.S. and D.C. area. In the 70's, he served as the head coach for the New York Cosmos during the Pele years and then the Washington Dips when Johan Cruyff was on the team. Following, he served as George Mason Men's Head Soccer coach from 1985-2000 and was also a color commentator for United. He was inducted into the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame in 1996. 

His impact on U.S. soccer was profound and many have mentioned to us their memories and impressions of a man who was often described as a gentlemen. A few members of the United family have expressed their desire to honor Gordon Bradley. We'll be using Behind the Badge as a forum for those memories. Today, Tony Limarzi - the radio voice of our club - shares his thoughts. 

Gordon Bradley – Rest in Peace

The first time I was a part of a live, on-air soccer broadcast was the Men's Soccer Qualifying for the 2000 Olympics in Hershey, Pennsylvania.  I was a sideline reporter for the CONCACAF tournament, and Dave Johnson and Gordon Bradley were calling the action from up in the broadcast booth.  It was a pleasure to work with Gordon, and I was fortunate to share my debut with someone so knowledgeable and generous.

We drove back and forth from D.C. to Hershey every day of the week-long tournament, and we talked about soccer the entire time.  His knowledge and passion for the game were obvious throughout our conversations, and his analytical mind showed how seriously he took his craft as a color man.  Even though Gordon had about 40 more years of experience than I did, he never made me feel like I was a rookie or that my ideas were inferior to his.  I never knew first-hand, but that's the way Gordon must have been as a teammate or a coach.  I remember one conversation we had about his playing days.  He said, "I don't know why it was, but I always seemed to be the team captain, or sort of the coach on the field."  He didn't exactly say it, but my interpretation of his very humble message was the following.  Gordon was a leader his entire life; when he spoke, people listened.

It was an honor to be a part of those broadcasts, but my favorite memory of Gordon Bradley comes from years earlier as a D.C. United fan in 1996.  Everybody remembers the match United played in the hurricane at R.F.K. Stadium against the Tampa Bay Mutiny.  I was at the game, so I didn't listen to his TV broadcast on HTS, but the game was on the following day.  At that time I listened to the opening segment when Dave and Gordon were highlighting Marco Etcheverry.  They went through the normal points- he's a great assist man, so dangerous in the box, magical left foot, etc.  The final thought that Gordon had at that time was something that for some reason I have never forgotten.  About the upcoming game he said, "Marco Etcheverry will not disappoint."  True enough.  The game-winning goal late in the second half was possibly the turning point in the history of D.C. United.  Maybe Gordon saw it coming all along.

Gordon was a pioneer of soccer broadcasting in Washington D.C.  He and Dave Johnson set the bar very high in 1996.  It's fitting that the best franchise in MLS has always had the best broadcasters in MLS.  As for the rest of us who follow in his footsteps, we know we have big boots to fill.  Gordon will live on forever at R.F.K. Stadium as a member of the Washington Hall of Stars, and whenever D.C. United moves into their new stadium, his presence will be felt there too.

In association with George Mason, the family has created the Gordon Bradley Scholarship Endowment. To contribute, call 703-993-3215. Feel free to share your memories or thoughts about Gordon Bradley in the comments.