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SBI USMNT Man of the Match: Michael Bradley

MichaelBradley (JaneGershovich)

Photo by Jane Gershovich/Jane G Photography


SEATTLE– On a night when there were three or four players worthy of Man of the Match honors for the U.S. Men’s National Team, Michael Bradley stood out the most in Tuesday night’s 2-0 victory vs. Panama.

Bradley’s commanding effort in central midfield helped set a tone for the entire match, and when Panama started the match by attacking the U.S. defense and putting the home team on its heels, it was Bradley who helped lead the charge as the Americans took control of the match and never let it go.

With Geoff Cameron providing a perfect complement in central midfield, Bradley had the freedom to drive the attack with some truly impressive surging runs through the middle, including one that led to the opening goal by Jozy Altidore.

The victory was truly a team effort, but Bradley helped set the tone for the result and earned SBI USMNT Man of the Match honors in the process.

What did you think of Bradley’s night? What USMNT player earned your Man of the match vote?

Cast your vote after the jump:


  • Michael Bradley
  • Geoff Cameron
  • Jozy Altidore
  • Fabian Johnson
  • Eddie Johnson


  1. Ives, you called it in the pre-match chat when I asked you who would stand out for the USMNT if you had to pick only one field player to shine. Nice work per usual.

  2. Good comments above concerning the centermids. While Bradley and Jones are certainly the best and most accomplished players in that position, they don’t often mesh well together. Is this because they are too similar in what they want to do and have difficulty trading roles on the fly? Or maybe their roles aren’t defined well enough between the two of them. It seemed last night like the gameplan from the beginning was for Cameron to hang back and Bradley to roam forward, which seemed to free up Bradley to push forward and carry the attack.

    It seems a shame to not play both Bradley and Jones since they are both great players. But I think its clear our attack is best when Bradley plays the advanced role in centermidfield. Can Jones accept the #6 role and be disciplined? If not, we may be best with Cameron paired with Bradley.

  3. Bradley was great and has been consistently very good for awhile so this is hardly intended to be criticism: But at times I wish he’d be this aggressive offensively more often. He makes it look so easy at times, the first goal against Panama, the goal against Russia, etc, etc. He even scored 16 goals in the Dutch league a few years back. Whether its coaching or his own conservativeness or likely a combination of both, I feel like the USMNT needs him to unleash his creativity like this more often. We still don’t have that many players who can create dangerous chances against top-notch teams. I’d put Bradley though right at or near the top of that list (probably just after Dempsey).

    Obviously the better Jones or Cameron play at D-Mid at times dictates how aggressive Bradley can be offensively though. I do get that.

  4. The best players do not always combine to make the best team. Jones and Bradley are quite realistically the best mids the US has, yet, together they seem to perform at less than the sum of their parts. Cameron and Bradley looked good together, so did Edu and Bradley vs Mexico. STill Jones is excellent and if Bradley is out, Jones is the guy I prefer to replace him. I am just not sold on the pairing of Bradley and Jones as being one that makes the best team.

  5. I’ve been saying it for quite some time…Michael Bradley is the best midfielder EVER produced by the US and he will eventually wind up at some huge club on the level of ManU, Barca, Juve, etc etc. It will happen.

    And yes I’m taking into account players like Ramos, Reyna, and Harkesy. Well, would you look at that…all from Jersey! Vamos NJ!

    • I agree that the New Jersey dominance of US soccer is sadly downplayed. But you are getting a little exagerrated about Mikey.

      He’s not even the best midfielder from Jersey. That still belongs to Claudio.

  6. I voted for Bradley, but jeez that was a tough call. I hate picking a MOTM when there are so many deserving candidates. Bradley, Cameron, and Altidore imho were all deserving of MOTM. Bradley and Cameron bossed the middle of the park and seemed a perfect tandem. ButJozy not only finished well but his hold-up play was superb and that HUSTLE! He ran down defenders/midfielders that had intercepted the pass or stripped him so many times. It was beautiful. Couple that defensive hustle with the cool finishing and smart hold up play/runs and that is a scary young man.

    Alternatively, can we add that crowd to MOTM? I was watching from home and was literally, not figuratively, LITERALLY getting goosebumps. Let’s bottle whatever it is those Seattle fans were drinking and pump it into the nation’s water supply!

  7. I will not be surprised to see MB move to new and top club this summer—England, Germany or Spain. In fact, I think it is going to happen. You heard it here first, folks.

    • 1 goal in 30 appearances for Roma. Multiple 1 year goal droughts for usmnt. Only 2 goals in klinsmann era. There’s so much Koolaid drinking going on in here it’s ridiculous. He played well last night but there have definitely been times in the klinsmann era that he should have been benched. He’s great when he’s on, but that isn’t often enough.

      • Who cares about his goal totals. He plays as a DM for Roma, most times they don’t even have him up in the box on corners. Unfortunately, he and De Rossi are a little too similar in their play (not skill) and things haven’t gone as smoothly there. I believe his 2nd year will be way better than his first though.

        I think he spends another year at Roma then you might see him move to a bigger club.

      • I care. When usmnt midfielders score, the usmnt wins. Bradley isn’t as good of a defender as gc Jj and lately even zusi. He is at his best when he’s attacking. He is frequently a liability when he sits back. If he is going to go to a bigger club, which I could care less about, it will be because he’s scoring not because of his defending.

      • You have no idea what you’re talking about. You really don’t. God, when will the soccer IQ level on this site ever increase?

      • Please explain. I would love to know what I’m overlooking. Am I making up the scoring drought? Was I hallucinating when we couldn’t keep possession against even the worst teams in concacaf? The games where the usmnt completely dominated possession and imposed it’s will seem to have slipped my mind.
        Fortunately an incredibly inexperienced defense is playing way above expectations.

      • -1. you have no idea what your talking about.

        Are you watching on 13″ cathode ray tube set? or what?

      • .” When usmnt midfielders score, the usmnt wins”

        Maybe but that statement is very misleading.

        Since 2007 the USMNT attack has been largely about two nominal midfielders Donovan and Deuce. Guys who could legitimately be called mis -labeled forwards. I’d say those two have been responsible for a huge percentage of the goals in US wins the last six years or so.

        Regardless, Mikey’s job description for the US has never been about scoring goals.

  8. Bradley finally plays well and suddenly he’s king again? The usmnt midfield has looked horrible in almost every match in the Jk era. I hate to say it but I think last night’s exceptional midfield play had more to do with the absence of jones and zusi than the continued presence of bradley.

    Jones and zusi have had many great individual performances but the midfield has rarely looked great as a unit with them on the field… Especially with jones and bradley playing next to each other

    • I agree with you to an extent about Jones; Jones vs GC as MB’s partner has already been discussed in the comments above me and I tend to be in the camp that GC is a better parter, only because his presence allows the midfield to gel a little more with MB moving forward (even if you lose a bit of skill that Jones has on him.) But Zusi? Gotta disagree. Dude has been a force getting up and down that flank and was often a bright spot in a relatively more dismal midfield. He links up as well (if not better) than Johnson did last night, can take on his man like Johnson did, and is a better crosser of the ball. Johnson’s the better finisher, making a decision between them tough (if Johnson continues this form) but in no way has Zusi been a detriment to the midfield in his most recent games.

      • Zusi has had some incredible individual performances. But he hasn’t necessarily made the midfield a better unit. That’s the whole problem… Even when in midfielder is having a good game the midfield as a whole had still looked disjointed. He looks best when scrambling to over or attacking as a wing… Not so much part of an organized and effective midfield.
        Again not hating the player. It has a lot to do with the system. Having a striker and the dempsey position and your outside mids playing like wingers leaves you with a 2 man midfield.. And thus far when those 2 were jones and bradley, who both love to go forward, it hasn’t worked.

    • I’d say MB really really really like the system change too, and has stepped it up another notch the last 3 games

  9. What a good predicament Klinsmann finds himself in at Cm/Dm. Cameron , Jones, and Bradley; they all bring something good to the table. Then you look towards Holden coming back, and you have to think that there are your CM’s/DM’s for the WC.

    Should be interesting to see where Cameron lines up for Stoke next season. With Stoke having troubles at CM last season I could see Cameron running Stokes midfield next season for Mark Hughes. Hopefully Hughes caught some of that game last night.

  10. I was at the game finally getting to see Bradley play for the first time in about 6 years. But there was one player that stood out last night from my second row seat: Geoff Cameron. You wanna talk about boss of the midfield, he tackled just about anything that came through it. I don’t have the numbers but I’m sure he easily led the match in tackles and his pass to EJ for the goal was awesome. It was obvious the Panamanian midfielders were really trying to avoid Cameron in the second half.

    Between Bradley and Cameron, there is only one of them good enough to start in the Premier League at CDM and it’s not Bradley (see the Aston Villa experiment). Bradley is only good on the counter attack and good at standing right in front of fullbacks and centerbacks when we are in possession of the ball in our defensive third clogging up space. His positioning is not very good and often gets caught ball watching and is slow to track back. His tackling also could be better for a guy so tall. He has trouble pushing small guys off the ball. He is less of a CDM and more of a roaming mid.

    I actually think we might end up seeing a Cameron – Jones midfield at some point. I was expecting to see something great from Bradley in person but I was sorely disappointed.

    • What game were you watching? What player have you been watching for years? It’s not fair to say Bradley isn’t good enough for the PL because it didn’t work out on a mid-season loan coming from a team where he was out of favor. Look what he has done the last 2 years in Series A.

      Bradley has great vision, poise on the ball, really good touch on his passes, makes great runs, and is a beast defensively. Every time the US broke pressure from Panama who was the Midfielder that did it? Bradley. Who breaks up opponents attach without being reckless and getting cards? Bradley.

      Bradley has ben a top 3 player in our pool for the last 4 years easily.

    • Don’t think in terms of 90’s defensive mids. CDM != destroyer. I’m a big Cameron fan; last night, he broke up attack after attack, showed for the ball, and did smart things with it. But at home against Panama, this wasn’t a big challenge.

      Bradley’s value is as the guy who sits in front of the defense and is always available. He doesn’t lose the ball, starts positive moves, and the engine to go box-to-box at anytime. And he might be the best ball-striker on the team. Plus he’s done it time and again vs. much higher class opponents than Panama.

      P.S. – GC is not exactly a midfielder in the PL. He started 5 games in central mf and 23 in defense.

  11. Another vote for Bradley. So many good moves started with him, winning possession, keeping possession, making the pass. He’s the metronome of the US.

    If Darren Fletcher really is done, how about Moyes signing Bradley for Man Utd? Might be too similar to Carrick but I don’t think Bradley would look out of place.

  12. For me, it was Altidore. His goal was almost a footnote. The intricacies of his passing, vision, first touch, combination play were all stellar tonight. Bradley was a close second but I’d give the nod to Altidore.

    • I voted for Altidore as well. But when I look at Opta, it’s hard to argue with Bradley.

      That said, Altidore did absolutely everything a 9 shirt should do. And he’s been doing that the last 3 games now.

  13. Bradley is my choice too. He was huge. But Cameron was close. Can’t decide who I like better paired with Bradley…Jones or Cameron. I guess I’ll say Jones as I see him as a little tougher but I like the Cameron allowed Bradley to get forward, something he rarely does with Jones.

    • Yes. And yes. And regarding whether Jones or Cameron, I am undecided but I firmly believe that we need Cameron on the field as much as possible. I think his size, skill, and (relative) pace are too valuable.

      • His relative pace is deceiving. He looks slow, but he covers an awful lot of ground very quickly. Did you see the header from 35 yards out? I think that took a very quick player to get on the end of that. I think his stride is so long it just looks like he’s slow.

      • Agreed. I don’t think he has great acceleration. But once he gets going, he covers ground well.

        I’d say Cameron’s performance lets them be cautious with Jones on the concussion protocol. Best to let Jermaine sit vs Honduras. It also lets the staff see if this was just a fluke against a team with a weakish MF, or if Cameron really can anchor behind Bradley.

        I don’t think you can throw Jermaine over from 1 match, not matter how good his replacement played. But I do agree with those who say the MF is better with Bradley being the aggressor.

  14. I know this was Panama and we should keep things in perspective but what I really liked about yesterday’s performance was the depth – quality depth – that this team is building. If guys step up and have a monster GC they could be more than just B team squad members. We lost JJ and Zusi and all kinds of questions were being asked about the team. Talk of EJ and Cameron (well more so EJ but there were Cameron doubters out there too – I never got that one) being huge question marks abounded. But these guys stepped in and did their job and now we have talk about sitting JJ for Cameron (right now? NO!).

    Depth, quality depth – with no huge drop off – will be a huge plus for us as we navigate the traps of tournaments like the WC and future GCs.

  15. Surprised EJ was on this list. Although he scored, I thought his touch was off last night, for the most part, and he didn’t help out defensively. The goal showed real class, no doubt about it, but I felt like he was the worst American on the field for most of the night. Again, not saying he wasn’t good, but everyone else was just more engaged.

    • Huh. Most analysts would pretty much disagree with you. Now I agree that defensively he is a bit of a liability on the wing, but a lot of the US attacks started with EJ getting the ball taking on a player or two and then distributing the ball to Deuce, Bradley, or Cameron. He was money taking on players last night, and knowing when to give up the ball. he had one miss hit cross, but other than that I thought he played well.

      • I’m going to watch the match again: maybe I was just too focused on the interior play of Cameron and Bradley and missed contributions from EJ.

      • I could stand to watch again too, but generally Eddie’s stepovers just work just the first time or two he “takes someone on” at best

    • I agree with Roberto; I thought he kept pushing for his goal and was a lttle selfish and slack on D. That said, it was a fine goal.

      • Yeah, Evan seemed so pleased that he had to keep calling for EJ to contribute more to back him up when he would get burned along the right.

        Don’t be delusional about Johnson, he OWNS Panama – for whatever reason, and his goal was very well taken, but Eddie Johnson will never scare anyone other than Panama or Antiguq or US Virgina Islands with the ball at his feet.

  16. Michael Bradley is a dynamic player going forward. You never know if he is going to be staying home as a fifth back or sprinting into your goal box to score. It’s the unexpected aspect of his game that is so hard for opponents to deal with. He’s the best player we’ve got.

    • Exactly. That’s why it’s so important we have a player next to him who is also dynamic. That way the D is never sure which is going to maestro the midfield and which is going to make cutting runs forward or dribble to goal. If the D knows they only have to worry about one, it takes away that element.

      • Many classic tactics with major teams have one anchor and one creative player pushing forward. The problem I see, many times, with Jones and Bradley is that Jones is far too eager to push forward and Bradley is forced to play the more defensive role. Despite the appearance that rhe US attack seems to be far more effective when Bradley is the one pushing forward. A more classic “anchor man” allowed Bradley the freedom to rule the midfield and push attacks.

  17. I think Cameron did a whale of a job last night, but Jones is clearly the better partner with Bradley. No question. Those two will be the linchpins of the 2014 World Cup squad, with Cameron providing cover as needed.

  18. I know Panama is schizophrenic as a team, were missing a key player or two, and were on the road. I’m also not a Jermaine Jones hater. But what a game like this does is to revive the question of whether or not it’s better to pair Bradley with another midfielder. With JJ, Bradley is often relegated more to a defensive midfield role while JJ plays the aggressor/ball-chaser/guy who plays a bit more forward. With someone willing to be more of a true “stay at home” D-mid, we see Bradley moving up the field. It reminds me of his season in Holland where he had 16 goals in 20 games…most coming off of well-timed runs forward into space. Bradley may not be Juan Roman Riquelme or Sneijder but when he has a chance to get forward more, he’s probably our best midfielder. And it’s a legitimate question whether Jones’ aggressiveness ends up forcing Bradley to play further back down the field (and thus limit his offensive contributions).

    • There is no way we can say that Jermaine Jones does not belong in the midfield along Michael Bradley. First, it was a home game with amazing fan support, second, it was Panama and it was expected to dominate and maintain possession. Besides, Panama never really pressured the U.S. so every single player had more freedom, the story would be different in an away game against a tougher team.

      It was a good display from everybody, but let’s keep in mind that it was Panama and not a Top National Team. Let’s keep things in perspective.

      • Except – how often have we seen the Nats go into a game, at home, against a weaker opponent, and be expected to control the game, and then look flat, and be fortunate for a tie or last minute win? My opinion, that’s how we’ve always looked – clearly better, but not performing that way.

        Last night, though: we were better, and we _looked_ better. Aside from the first 20 minutes, our possession was strong, our attack was smooth and fluid, and our back line steady. This is something new – and though I don’t think that one game makes a pattern, it would be interesting to see Cameron and Bradley paired together next week, to see if they can do it again. It was pretty.

    • I have to agree with Joe W. The US appears far more effective when Bradley is pushing the attack. Jones seems to want to drift forward far too much for the overall good of the team. Don’t get me wrong. Jones is a true talent for the US, but if was nice to see more of an anchorman “behind” Bradley.

    • Completely agree. The bradley and jones partnership has not worked. Period. But clearly people comment with their hearts and not their heads. The midfield play had been mostly terrible. Jones and bradley bother deserved to be benched going into this match. Jj is a great player but he really doesn’t fit into this system. Would love to see Cameron holding it down with bradley all the way up by Clint

      • My heart says “+1” but my head says “let’s give Cameron and Bradley a couple more games together to see if they can continue to play this way.” If there’s one thing that’s happened over the last several years, it’s players getting typecast based on a single performance. Maybe Cameron and Bradley could work successfully for many years; maybe it won’t. Think of the players who are in the national team picture (or out of it) based on a single performance. To his credit, I think Jurgen has started to move away from that way of thinking. But let’s celebrate the results, and be cautiously optimistic – but not jump to conclusions before we’ve got a solid body of evidence.

      • +1. To that end I think OG and 2 are the only people who have made their claim as guaranteed starters. Conversely I think there is more than enough evidence to show that the mb/Jj partnership in the usual formation doesn’t work.

      • Well, Bradley has, I’d say. For the time being, that Jozy has, too. And did you see Besler over the last three games? Kid has been real solid. If I had to pick a defender who had earned it, it would be him.

      • The World Cup is a little less than a year and one season away.

        An awful lot could change between now and then.
        Cameron could be on the bench for Stoke or maybe Hughes starts him at center half. You just don’t know.

        The closest thing this team has to guaranteed starters are Dempsey ,Bradley and probably Jones..

        That’s about it.

  19. Bradley is only on the team because his dad is the coach. Not because he is talented or anything…..oh wait…..

    • People continue to rehash this, but there WAS a point where MB was not playing for BMG because he was in poor form and was still getting 90 every game playing our deepest position.

      • Maybe, just maybe, he was playing because the US coaches (yes, his dad but also ALL the other coaches) knew he was GOOD AT SOCCER?

      • Bradley was a nice high-effort player when he played for BB and he deserved his spot on the team, but playing in Italy has completely transformed him. He is playing on an entirely different level now in terms of tactical awareness, reading the game, decision-making, composure on the ball, etc.

      • Of course he did score 2 goals vs Mexico in WCQ And he anchored a US midfield that tied Argentina (twice) And when Klinsmann left him off, it became obvious how much the US missed him, all that well before he went to Italy.

      • Or maybe at that point he did not deserve to be MB90. I would have preferred MB 60 or MB 75 sometimes. Now give me MB120. I am huge fan, but did question he wasvworthynof an unconditional 90 every time out. Maybe I was wrong or … Doesn’t really matter now

      • we learned all we needed to know about MB when he wasn’t around for a while after Klinnsman took over, and so many were sure that we’d all see how much of an anchor he’d been to the team…but it ended up he wasn’t an anchor at all

        he’s clearly improved too, perhaps his greatest quality–he keeps improving–but how the team performed without him sealed my opinion that he was the guy we needed then, and now

      • I used anchor as in–dead weight, slowing everything down.

        as Dennis used the word above, MB was and is our anchor in midfiled…totally agree

  20. I’d give a slight nod to Cameron in this game. It was because of his efforts and effective play that Bradley was able to push up and take control of the midfield. If I was Edu or Beckerman, I’d be pretty nervous right tnow.

    • Hey Paul,

      I see your point, and like Geoff Cameron a lot, but Michael Bradley is the USMNT engine. And, dare I say it, I like their pairing better than MB with Jermaine Jones.

      JJ may be a better player than GC overall, and I love JJ’s passion and effort, but he tends to have mental lapses, leaving MB to clean up the mess. You don’t get that with GC. He is so solid tactically, rarely gets caught ball-watching, and knows when to surge forward versus drop back. He lets MB be better. I think GC may be the perfect complement to MB, and allow Bradley to really flourish.

      Last night’s game was the best, most fluid game I have ever seen the US play, and a lot of that has to do with how the central midfield tandem played.

    • Bradley does this on a consistent basis. I voted for Cameron because he stepped up in a new role (again) and made great passes all game. Bradley is so due for a goal tho

      • ..You mean JJ looking over his shoulder at the ref for another booking. What we uncovered last night is someone who can step in adequately when JJ gets the inevitable suspension. I feel more confident with GC in that spot right now than Edu, whom I always thought was a solid DM fill-in in front our CBs.

      • Yes, JJ the yellow card machine who is no closer to a suspension than

        zusi (already served suspension)
        beasley (currently suspended)

      • Hmm I better retract the sarcasm and apologize seeing as how JJ has already served a suspension in qualifying and will be working toward his second.

        *stares at feet in shame*

    • Geoff doesn’t earn MoM for me because he was quite loose with his passing for the first 20mins or so. He gets a pass on that because when he settled down, he was superb, and he cleaned up his own mistakes well. But getting a pass doesn’t mean MoM.

      Bradley completed 90% of his passes and completed more than all three of his Panamanian opponents, per Opta. That’s insane dominance.

    • I thought he should’ve gotten the armband this time around. Nothing against Deuce, but everything about Bradley just screams ‘Leader’.

  21. I wish these guys were strapping on their boots to head to Brazil for the Confederations tourney. I feel like they are in a better place than Mexico right now.

  22. Somewhere,…Paul Gardner is wringing his hands.

    Nice win. US must get three points from Honduras next week and bank points in advance of the September matches (@Costa Rica and Mexico).

    JK should play Cameron against Honduras and give JJ some additional time off. Hopefully JJ doesn’t suffer from any long term affects.

    • I know Paul can get a little “Negative Nancy” sometimes but for the most part I agree with the points he makes. I’m sure last nights performance was exactly what he wanted to see.

    • It would be great to get three, but must sounds like if we lose or tie we are in trouble which wouldn’t be accurate. Obviously in any home game you want the three, but I don’t think we must get them.

    • Gardner had too much fun pouring salt in the wound the night we (USA) lost to Costa Rica in WCQ back in 1985. We actually had the better team that night. I’ve been a supporter since 1976 and he was never more than a guy that wanted to throw stones without knowing much. Back in those days if you had a European accent you were immediately accepted as an expert in football. If you were in TV then you can only imagine why so many people turned their back on the game with him spouting his negatives about our game in her infancy. It was suppose to be the sport of the 80’s but he along with soccer bashers put the date back a bit I believe. Paul Gardner, you did nothing positive for US Football so fade the H–L away.

  23. Agreed! MB bossed the midfield and everything went through him. Cameron did great as well but the top honors go to MB.

    • I felt like there was a real spine of the team that was dedicated to controlling possession from Besler through Cam to MB and finally Jozy. There was a sense of exactly where to send the ball and those 4 could decide where to distribute it.


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