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U.S. Men's National Team

Bradley enjoying switch to Chievo

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photo by Howard C. Smith/ISIphotos.com

By FRANCO PANIZO

FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Michael Bradley isn't a fan of missing games, but that's exactly what he had to do in September in order to sort a future that he is currently enjoying.

Having been called into every U.S. men's national team camp this year aside from January's, Bradley was omitted from Jurgen Klinsmann's roster for a pair of friendlies last month. Rather than join the new U.S. head coach for his first elongated camp, Bradley needed to resolve things at the club level after having fallen out of favor with Borussia Moenchengladbach.

While it was admittedly tough for Bradley to miss the matches against Costa Rica and Belgium, both of which were 1-0 losses, the midfielder knew it needed to be done so that he could finalize a deal with Italian club Chievo Verona.

"You never want to miss a game," said Bradley, who is already in the process of learning Italian. "But having said that it was still, in the long run, important for me to get things sorted out in Italy, and make sure the paperwork went through and things on that end were all squared away."

Bradley completed the move at the end of August, and it took him less than three weeks to settle in. He made his Chievo debut on Sept. 18, coming off the bench and playing 18 minutes in a 2-1 loss to Parma.

Since then, Bradley has started and gone the distance in all three of Chievo's league matches. The club won twice and tied once in those games.

"It's been a good change for me; it's a really good league, it's a good club," said Bradley. "Been there now for a good month and just being in training every day, and now obviously the last stretch gotten myself a few games. After the first two games where (the team) had only one point, after that to come away with some good results and start to move ourselves up the table, it's been good."

Things at Moenchengladbach may not have ended as well as he would have liked, with the club demoting him to the bench back in January. That ultimately led to him being loaned out to Aston Villa for the second half of the season, though a full transfer to the English team failed to materialize. 

Regardless of how things with the German club ended, Bradley still looks back at his years there as positive, knowing that they helped him develop into the player he is today.

"It was good for me. After playing in Holland (with SC Heerenveen), it got to the point where I needed a new challenge, a step up, and the time leading into the World Cup I had the opportunity to play regularly for a good club in a big league," said Bradley. "Just week in and week out, getting games just meant that I was able to keep myself sharp for the national team and the qualifiers and then eventually for the World Cup."

Bradley hasn't been the only member of his family on the move recently. His father, former U.S. head coach Bob Bradley, signed on to coach Egypt last month, and Michael admits he is excited for his father's new challenge.

Like his father, Michael Bradley has a new World Cup cycle in front of him. That means that getting in games every week with Chievo is a task that Bradley will have to accomplish in order to remain in the conversation for a starting spot on the U.S. team.

That task is also one that Bradley needed after three years with Moenchengladbach.

"Like a lot of things," said Bradley, "there comes a time when you need a new challenge and you need a fresh start."

49 comments
  • Second City

    I think he’s at the appropriate stature of club he should be at this point in his career.

    Glad to see him settling in and getting well earned minutes.

    Like

  • jon

    Great to see Bradly Jr. starting games in a good league. With him back in the in middle of the field for us, I see a comfortable win over Honduras.

    Like

  • jon

    I got really into the sport when studying abroad in Italy over 10 years ago. I went to nearly half the Roma games, saw the ac/inter game. Totally blown away by the intensity of the fan experience, but also could not believe how insanely good the players were. It just seemed like a completely different sport than the one I’d seen played in the states.

    While serie A might not be quite at the level it once was, it’s a serious accomplishment that Bradley’s starting on a decent team there.

    Like

  • Charlie G.

    Not a bad place to be – Verona’s a beautiful city, and the weather in Italy this time of year is certainly a lot better than England or Germany. What I like most is going away from what might be a more “comfortable” fit (like another team in England or Germany) – it’s a risk, but the upside is development – cheers for that !

    Like

  • Indigo Montoya

    He’s learning the catenaccio-way in a league that’s been a bridge too far for American players. I like everything about his move to Serie A and solid playing time. Hopefully he can impart that knowledge to the USMNT.

    Like

  • Eurosnob

    “And the best part about being in Italy is that I’m closer to FIFA House, so that I can file my one-time switch to the Egyptian National Team. Not many people know, but my Mother, Linh-Dzeah AlBraadleykar is actually an Egyptian citizen.

    Plus, I have the feeling I would get along very well with the coach.

    When my room is clean.”

    Like

  • DCP

    I hear that the Egyptian coach wears sweats in public; do you really think he cares about clean rooms?

    Like

  • Che Cazzo

    LmFaO , Eurosnob and DCP You guys are hilarious.That exchange is effen priceless…..Im in tears ,thank U guys for the great laugh!!!

    Like

  • spencer

    he’s not exactly a goal scorer. If we win comfortably its because we finally score. Not because our D-Mid is playing better.

    Like

  • emo

    Did you watch the US Open Cup game last night? Alonso had more influence on the final score than any other player on the field.

    Like

  • OC

    Ay ay ay.

    Possession is 9/10 of the law.

    He will help us score goals, just like Xabi Alonso helps Madrid and Spain score goals, and just like Van Bommel helps Holland and helped Bayern score goals.

    Like

  • argh

    It’s great to hear and see he’s adapting to the league. Is he planning on learning any Italian? I know he’s fluent in Dutch and German, so Italian would be just as unique

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  • NATO

    Bradley is 24, already a vet of the Dutch and German leagues. Impressive especially for an American

    Like

  • Michael F.

    Did you actually ask him these questions? How did you put this article together? Just curious. Thx.

    Like

  • abc

    What the heck happened in this thread after the first few comments? Is there a full moon tonight?

    Like

  • Joey

    I’m just glad that his future with the nats from this point on will be a result of merit and nothing more.

    I am still not convinced that he will be a starter 6 months from now but if he is… then it will be because Jurgen thinks he’s the best at what he does and not his family ties.

    It will be interesting to see what his role will be with a management change. I think the next two games will make or break him as a starter

    Like

  • spencer

    wow guys, i’m not saying he’s a bad player. but Edu and Beckerman did pretty well the past couple of games. Bradley isn’t the best passer. Yes I know a d-mid can prevent goals from being scored. We have a decent defense, its our offense that is having problems. Having Bradley won’t improve our possession and even then we have already seen we have possession under JK no matter who is out there.

    Like

  • otergod

    Since JK has taken over our possession has drastically improved and our opportunities have drastically decreased.

    “Bradley isnt the best passer” ?? Actually, his successful passing percentages have typically been one of the highest on the team, although one can argue he makes small passes. He’s not going to slot the perfect through ball that often, but he does switch the point of attack quite nicely and opens up the field.

    “he’s not exactly a goal scorer. ” ?? As far as Center Mids are concerned he has clearly one of the top goal scoring rates.

    MB- 9 goals in 60 games
    Torres- 0 in 13
    Clark- 2 in 31
    Holden- 2 in 17
    Reyna- 8 in 111

    Like

  • NATO

    Bradley is a starter for sure. It’s his 61st cap and he’s only 24. Lots of nepotism charges over the years but he’s always proved them wrong. His competition is Edu and Torres. Beckerman is solid but not up to the level of a WC.

    Like

  • otergod

    if we can take anything from JK’s player selection and starting lineups it is he holds club form pretty much a standard. If MB continues to shine in Italy he will always contend as a potential starter.

    Like

  • malkin

    Ya but he only scored those goals because his dad was the coach. His stats clearly need an asterisk next to them.

    Like

  • mokers

    I don’t think anybody had trouble with Bradley on the team. My main problem was that he was seen as the player that we should run our offense through, but I don’t think that is ever where he excelled. And no matter how skilled he was, he shouldn’t have been an automatic 90 minutes even when he was riding the pine in England and Germany. It’s good to see him playing in Germany because him being in form with his club will likely translate to sharper skills on the pitch. It will be interesting to see if he’s asked to control the ball as much as before. I wonder if a new coach and style will help him think about pushing the ball forward more. I’m not sure if he has the ball skills and touch to replace Torres, but a more offensive style might make it possible for he and Edu to share the pitch without looking like they are playing the same position.

    Like

  • biff

    Klinsman said he is going to select only players who are playing well and regularly at the club level. There are a lot of players who meet those criteria, but all of them cannot be starters on the USMNT. It is possible that MB could be playing well 90 minutes every game at Chievo in the style his coach there plays, but that MB would not be a good fit for Klinsmann’s style of soccer.

    Like

  • biff

    Torres and MB are not in competition under Klinsmann, who is playing Torres at offensive CM up high and MB at DM, which is the position he is playing at Chievo. MB is going to face plenty of competition to win a spot. Not just against Edu and Beckerman and Larentowicz, but Jermaine Jones and Kljestan and young midfielders like Danny Williams and Fabian Johnson, Bedoya, Diskerud to name just few.

    Like

  • Vic

    I would rather have a more skillful player like Torres, Holden or Feilhaber partner with Bradley/Edu. I don’t want Bradley or Edu playing together because both play a similar game: good at breaking up plays but neither a very good passer.

    Like

  • The Second Gunman on the Grassy Knoll

    I give a thumbs up to this response. For MB’s D-mid position, this is a great league to learn in and a solid squad to be apart of. I think it’s a smart move.

    Like

  • TomG

    +1

    Exactly. Otergod, stop spoiling everyone’s preconceived notions with objectivity and facts. It’s really annoying.

    Like

  • otergod

    Malkin post pretty much says it. I was merely saying if he continues to excel at the club level he’ll be given the chance to excel at the national team level. If he gets the start (like he’ll likely do this camp), it’s up to him to do well, but this camp is not “make or break” for starter status as the OP states.

    Like

  • otergod

    I dont see MB playing the role Edu plays even with Torres in the lineup. Torres tends to sit 30 yards away from the goal and rarely crashes the box. Our past couple lineups had no CM options who would crash the box offering more opportunities for the crosses. This is why Jozy was so isolated and we produced few chances.

    If MB starts, regardless of who he’s “paired” with he will not be playing solely a dmid role like Edu was.

    But i agree, as far as roles are concerned, MB and Torres are not competing for the same role.

    Like

  • otergod

    i agree that i dont want Edu and MB to play together, but MB’s passing is quite good. He wont make many needle threading thru balls to strikers, but he maintains possession and changes the point of attack quite successfully

    Like

  • TomG

    Yes, he said that, but then proceeded to call in Rogers, Bunbury, Ream, Orozco, and other guys not at the top of their form so that’s certainly not a rule, more of a guideline. Hmmm, not even a guideline, more of a consideration… a minor consideration.

    Re: fit – It is more important that Klinsi develop a style that fits the talent pool rather than the other way around. We need to get our best players on the pitch. We are not a program that has interchangeable 4 player depth at every spot. It seems thus far that he may be trying to crowbar players in to fit a profile in his head. This is a little worrisome and let’s hope it isn’t the case.

    Hey, I’d love to play flowing, beautiful football like Barca, but we don’t have the players for it. People knock BB’s teams as not having a style – that’s not true. We had a style. We were hard to play against, shot blocking, ball pressuring, come from behind, counter attackers. Was it beautiful, no, but it worked pretty well. I’d love to play a more possessive style, but I’m not sure our best players fit into that mode. We shall see.

    Like

  • Ed

    This is so annoying. Torres is not the player you and others make him out to be. He has a good touch, it is pleasing to the eye, yes, but Torres has not been very effective in the final 3rd, especially in a US shirt.

    Like

  • Gbott

    So your saying he is not fighting for a spot with an attackibg mid in Torres, but then you say he is fighting for spots with mix, sasha, and bedoya?

    Like

  • Vic

    Neither was Reyna or Xabi Alonso. They’re holding midfielders that give you possession.

    Like

  • Mokers

    I am not saying that Torres is better than MB. What I am saying is that Torres plus [insert your favorite DM here] has proven better to what we are looking for in style of play than placing Edu and MB together. With a different mindset on the team, MB will be more likely to take his flow into the offense. And when I say Torres, it doesn’t have to be him specifically, but a player in that role. Obviously we all want Stu, but we’ll never know when that is going to happen.

    Like

  • biff

    “It is more important that Klinsi develop a style that fits the talent pool rather than the other way around.”

    To an extent that is true, but every talent pool offers a coach flexibility, and probably a coach sees what he wants to see. If BB were coaching Barcelona, even with the same players, the team will have a style unique to BB that is different from Guardiola.

    I think we have already seen glimpses under Klinsmann of what might be possible with the US talent pool, such as the last 25 minutes against Mexico and the first 30-35 minutes against Costa Rica. That was amazing to see a USMNT play such attack- and possession-oriented soccer, especially the possession style against Costa Rica. Yeah, only one goal in three games, but I think goals will start coming at some point. It will take longer than 2 months and 3 games.

    And it could turn out that Klinsmann will decide he does not have the players to play his dream style and will have to lower his expectations. But he needs to give it his best shot. Skeptics should lighten up and, as many of us are doing, enjoy the ride. Like you say, we shall see what happens.

    Like

  • straight up

    I’ve seen Bradley play several games for Chievo and he looks overweight to me. Hopefully he gets in shape soon and sheds a few of those extra pounds. With Holden out and Torres being a complete cone on defense (both positionally and in the tackle), we really need him to be a 90 minute player for the USMNT.

    Like

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