CARSON, Calif. -- Twenty minutes after the U.S. soccer team finished its first scrimmage under new coach Bob Bradley, Pablo Mastroeni was still sweating profusely.
"That was a good first session, something that's going to set the tone early," the 30-year-old midfielder said Thursday. "It was a very intense session, and I guess that's the way it's going to be."
After the United States failed to make it out of the first round of last summer's World Cup, the Americans are off to a fresh start.
Bruce Arena, who coached the Americans to the World Cup quarterfinals in 2002, did not have his contract renewed after the disappointing showing in the 2006 tournament. When Juergen Klinsmann withdrew as a candidate, Bradley was hired as interim coach.
"It's a transition time," Bradley said. "We've got to start the cycle by working in some young players, and making sure that some of the guys who are experienced take bigger roles. So a lot of little things need to happen to start the ball rolling for the next four years."
Bradley was hired Dec. 8 and is set to coach in exhibitions against Denmark in Carson on Jan. 20 and Mexico on Feb. 7 in Glendale, Ariz. Bradley also will coach the U.S. under-23 team as it tries to qualify for the 2008 Olympics.
Lyon coach Gerard Houllier and Manchester United assistant Carlos Queiroz also have been considered among the leading candidates for the national team job along with Jose Pekerman, Argentina's coach at the World Cup. U.S. Soccer Federation Sunil Gulati, who watched the opening practice, was noncommittal about Bradley's future.
"I'm not worried too much about that. Today's day one, and it's a new day for the team, and Bob's excited by the challenge, and the players are excited," Gulati said.
Asked if Bradley was going to make it to June, Gulati smiled and said, "Bob's going to make it to June. I'm going to make it to June. You're going to make it to June. It's a good month. We're all going to make it to June."
Bradley coached Princeton, became an assistant with Major League Soccer's D.C. United in 1996, then coached the Chicago Fire, MetroStars and Chivas USA teams. He was selected the MLS coach of the year for turning around Chivas and guiding the team into the playoffs last season.
"He's got all the attributes of a good coach," Gulati said. "He's knowledgeable about the game, he's extraordinarily hardworking, he communicates well with his players. There are not many people who put as much into what they do as Bob does."
Jonathan Bornstein, the MLS rookie of the year with Chivas last season, said Bradley is special.
"He's a great coach. He has this knack of really taking a group of guys and bringing them together as one," the 22-year-old Bornstein said, mentioning how Bradley melded players from Mexico, younger Americans and the veterans to make Chivas competitive.
"He took all those players and made them this great core unit," Bornstein said. "And I can see he's already starting to do that here. In the first meeting, he was telling us how we've got to band together. His style is great. He's a great guy, someone I really look up to."
Bornstein obviously is familiar with Bradley's coaching philosophy.
"His training sessions are very intense. He wants the team playing the right style of soccer, very much a one- and two-touch style, very nice soccer," Bornstein said. "He instills the work ethic and pushes everyone. The training is harder than the games. I think that's the mentality he instills."