Hello all. It is the start of the new week, though the Labor Day holiday means that it’s technically still the holiday weekend. I know most SBI readers are off from work and either at the beach or out and about enjoying the day. Best wishes go out to the people in the Gulf Coast, who are dealing with the looming threat of Hurricane Gustav.
For now, I’ll start the usual Monday Morning jam session talking about Michael Bradley’s transfer to Borussia Moenchengladbach. After a summer of hearing Bradley linked to some more high-profile clubs, it wound up being the lesser-known (in the USA) German club that swooped in and made the bid (which is being reported at between $3 and $4 million).
The club with the long name isn’t that recognizable to casual American soccer fans, and the club’s status as a newly-promoted side has some concerned about the potential for a quick relegation, but all-in-all, the transfer is a very good step for young standout looking to continue his evolution as a player.
What needs to be realized when putting the move into perspective is that some of the bigger clubs linked to Bradley during the summer had long since moved on in their search for central midfielders. Everton and Stuttgart were well out of the picture well before Monaco emerged as a serious suitor and long before Moenchengladbach came in with the last-minute bid.
Ultimately what mattered for Bradley was leaving Heerenveen for a team in one of Europe’s top four leagues. Moenchengladbach is a newly-promoted team, but it does have a history of being in the Bundesliga more often than not. Couple that with the increased revenue streams provided by three-year-old Borussia Park and you have Bradley joining a team with a bright future where he is expected to step in and start.
There are obviously some concerns among American fans that Bradley might succumb to the fate of Benny Feilhaber, who joined newly-promoted Derby County a year ago. Derby wasn’t close to being an EPL regular like Moenchengladbach has been through the years and there was far more doubt about Derby’s ability to stay up in 2007/2008 than there is concern about Moenchengladbach’s chances of staying up. There’s also the fact that Bradley has already established himself as a top starter in another European league while Feilhaber had yet to establish himself as a starter anywhere when he arrived at Derby.
Now Bradley enters a league where he will face some of the world’s best players and play in a league with the perfect combination of speed and emphasis on attacking soccer. While it is fair to say that Bradley won’t come close to scoring the 15 league goals he scored in the Dutch First Division last season, what Bradley can do is round out his game playing against midfielders like Diego, Franck Ribery, Pavel Pardo and Ivan Rakitic. No offense to the Dutch league but Bradley had nothing left to prove there after the season he just had there.
While I can understand if some fans are disappointed to not see Bradley moving to the EPL, can Americans really be upset at the prospects of a 21-year-old American midfielder making a move to a Bundesliga club he is expected to start for? It is easy to forget that Bradley is still just 21 and if he continues to grow as a player, and can improve on his dream season at Heerenveen, a move to a bigger club is always a possibility.
For now, Bradley has moved to a bigger stage where he will have more chances to impress against top competition, and a league where American fans will be able to watch him play more often than they ever saw him play at Heerenveen. The move is a win for Bradley, and should ultimately be a win for the American fans interested in following his progress.