Now he has to find a way to improve on that.
Bradley's success and experience convinced U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati that he already had the right coach, outweighing any concerns about the team going stale or taking a step backward in a second four-year cycle with the same manager.
"We're familiar with the statistics of first- and second-cycle coaches," Gulati said Tuesday, a day after Bradley agreed to an extension that runs through the end of 2014. "In the end, we came to the conclusion that his experience and record, his work over the last four years, overcame any issues."
Still, Bradley's extension came as something of a surprise. He has made no secret of his desire to coach overseas someday -- he was linked to the openings at Fulham and Aston Villa in the English Premier League, though had no direct discussions with either team -- and many thought U.S. Soccer might want a fresh start in the lead-up to the 2014 World Cup.
National team coaches tend to have short shelf lives -- with good reason. West Germany coach Franz Beckenbauer might have followed a trip to the 1986 finals with the World Cup title four years later, but most struggle to replicate their initial success. Defending champion Italy and 2006 runner-up France were dismal in South Africa, despite having the same coaches as four years earlier.
Bradley's predecessor was Bruce Arena, who led the Americans on a surprising run to the quarterfinals in 2002 only to have them crash out in the first round four years later.
Gulati refused to say whether he had talked with any other candidates.
"All the positives greatly outweigh the other concerns," Gulati said. "We think on balance we've made the best possible decision."
Unlike teams in Europe and Africa that already have begun playing qualifiers for their continental championships, the United States doesn't have significant games until next year's Gold Cup. The Americans do have exhibitions against Poland (Oct. 9) and Colombia (Oct. 12).
As for avoiding that second-cycle slump, Bradley said the key is to constantly be aware of the environment he's creating. He said Tuesday he has looked to longtime successful coaches like Manchester United's Alex Ferguson and Duke's Mike Krzyzewski for ways to maintain a connection with players.
Krzyzewski, who led a star-studded roster to the basketball gold medal at the Beijing Olympics, told Bradley he made sure to connect with three players every day.
"If you don't watch yourself, given your different responsibilities, you can so easily get out there and kind of be in your own little world. If you let that part get away from you, then your players see that quickly," Bradley said. "That is the challenge on the job."
While Bradley said he is proud of the progress the Americans made in his first four years, he knows there is room for improvement.
"I'm not easily satisfied," Bradley said. "We feel good about what we've accomplished the last four years, but that doesn't mean I think it's all perfect. That's what motivates us and our players, so we'll continue to work at it."