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Yes, the U.S. made it to the round of 16 in last year’s World Cup _ but it needed Donovan’s last-minute heroics to make it out of what was seen as a relatively easy group beyond England, then was eliminated by Ghana in a game many thought was winnable.

Some American fans heavily criticized Bradley for his reliance on favorites such as his son Michael, a midfielder, and Jonathan Bornstein, a left back who took the brunt of the blame for the most recent collapse against Mexico.

Bradley’s supporters would point out that he has made the most of a group of players who generally can outwork rival teams, but lack the technical skills and finishing touch of the world’s elite.

U.S. Soccer is in the middle of overhauling its youth development system, an effort led by former U.S. captain Claudio Reyna. The hope is to grow a new generation of elite soccer players by identifying and nourishing players’ potential at an earlier age.

Although many current U.S. national team players have proven themselves good enough to join European club teams, too many get stuck on the bench when they make it overseas.

Bradley was chosen as coach in January 2007 and went 43-25-12 overall.

Highlights include the victory over Spain and near-upset of Brazil in the 2009 Confederations Cup, along with last year’s World Cup.

But the U.S. team is having a rough 2011. First came Spain’s 4-0 rout of the U.S. in an exhibition, followed by a head-scratching 2-1 loss to Panama early in the Gold Cup.

The U.S. rallied to make it to the Gold Cup championship game, but the 4-2 loss was seen as a setback for U.S. soccer after the team blew a 2-0 lead.

“Wishing Bob Bradley the best of luck,” U.S. player Charlie Davies posted on his Twitter account. “He helped me become a better player and person.”

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AP Sports Writers Ronald Blum and Tim Booth contributed to this report. Connect with AP Sports Writer Chris Jenkins: http://www.twitter.com/ByChrisJenkins