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SBI USMNT Man of the Match: Michael Bradley

Michael Bradley USMNT Netherlands 27




There were plenty of youngsters who shined in a few moments of brilliance, but there was one member of the U.S. Men’s National Team who shined brighter than the rest.

Veteran midfielder Michael Bradley orchestrated the attack all game, but played key assists late in the game to help the U.S. to a stunning 4-3 victory over the Netherlands in Amsterdam. Bradley set up DeAndre Yedlin, who passed across the face of goal to John Brooks which made it 3-2, before delivering the corner kick that was eventually blasted home by Danny Williams, thanks to a lucky deflection, to tie the match at 3-3 in the 89th minute.

Seconds later, Bradley played Jordan Morris into the box, and Morris played a similar pass to the one Yedlin played earlier in the half. This time, it was Bobby Wood slotting home to give the U.S. an improbable win.

Bradley’s performance made him an easy choice for SBI USMNT Man of the Match honors. Honorable mention goes to Jordan Morris, Kyle Beckerman, and DeAndre Yedlin.


What did you think of Bradley’s performance? Which player stood out the most to you in the USMNT’s 4-3 victory over the Netherlands?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I am not as big of a fan of JJ as most of you guys on this forum but I do see what he brings to a team. I know for a fact that MB never felt comfortable where he was playing in the last World Cup That is bc he always felt JJ was out of position defensively and that he had to cover for him. This is why MB covered so much ground. Also, JJ was only behind the ball twice when the US conceded goals.
    I think there is/was definitely a place for JJ and you cannot find a guy with that mentality very easily. JK needs to either find a different role for JJ or take him or MB out of the center mf spot. It just doesn’t work.

    • Mikey and JJ at their best, are the very similar players.

      JJ’s best asset is his incredible drive, his intimidating physicality, his superior understanding of the game and vast experience. He sees things before the others do and has enough skill to do something about it. Go back and look at his best years in the BL; he was a classic box to box team driver type of midfielder.

      Mikey is similar, minus the intimidating physicality.

      It is hard to have two Generals on the field at the same time but the US has not often had the luxury of being able leave one of them out if both are fit.

      JK has decided to build the team around Mikey obviously because of JJ’s age but there is still a place for JJ on this team, maybe.

  2. Wondering if Klinsi is going to have a captaincy question whenever Dempsey is back in the fold. He’ll probably keep Dempsey for this summer, but could see a change being made next year if Clint continues to miss games for various reasons.

  3. MB plays his best soccer when he has other players who are on the same page as him. Like it or not, MB does not pair well with Jones on the midfield.

    • I’m 80% there with you on this. I think you’re right that their effectiveness in tandem goes down as the quality of the opposition goes up (obviously, this is not good).

      I thought they played very well together in the buildup and send-off friendlies prior to the World Cup, when we were playing against equal or inferior opposition. But when we are playing against elite opponents, they seem to get in each other’s way, combine poorly, and generally behave indecisively. They don’t establish “roles” in these situations, and it makes the midfield chaotic.

  4. Having read through all the articles and all the comments so far, it’s amazing to see almost nothing about Brad Guzan.

    Guzan produced some genuinely amazing saves in this game, having been let down by his defenders on almost every chance Holland produced. Anybody who lays blame for any of their goals at Guzan’s doorstep is probably insane, not to mention the fact he probably spared us another 2-3 sure goals simply with reaction saves.

    Disagree? Anyone?

    • Agreed Guzan played very well, but it is hard to name a keeper MOTM when 3 goals are scored against him, no matter how unstoppable the shots may have been.

  5. Best I’ve seen Bradley in a couple years, maybe ever. Also he seemed more comfortable attacking than I can ever remember.

    Thought Williams did well for himself. He is close to supplanting Beckerman. Wasn’t convinced by Morales.

    • Great points. Beckerman did a superb job covering for our mistake-prone defense, but ultimately that’s all he will ever really do– break up attacks, mop up messes, and play square balls. For better or worse, this is actually pretty valuable

      • Agreed, Beckerman’s soccer brain is thing of beauty. It is too bad it is trapped in an aging, somewhat slow body.

        When he can keep the play in front of him he is comfortable and makes plays that look unspectacular, but that not many other players would be capable of making due to less than perfect vision.

        The kind of defensive instincts he possesses can be invaluable to a team.

      • The point is that not all teams make an agreement to “spend a player” in this way. Sometimes successful teams decide to have a Claude Makalele type player (this is basically what Beckerman does) — a guy whose sole job is to figure out what the opposition is trying to do and blow it up. As for what his own team is trying to do offensively, it doesn’t matter… just play a safe 5-yard ball to somebody who does.

        But putting a Beckerman-type player on means sacrificing a more well-rounded MF. It’s a tactical decision that comes with an expense. It’s the difference between Beckerman and Danny Williams. That’s the point.

      • On SBI there is a tendency to classify players as either offensive or defensive as if this were the NFL and there were separate offensive and defensive units.

        Beckerman is not early as offensively challenged as you say.

        I think JK started him over Williams because he is more experienced and disciplined. And in his time on the field in that game he proved his worth. The 4 goals the US scored would not have mattered much if the Dutch had scored the 5,6 or 7 they should have scored instead of the 3 they did score..

        By the time Danny came on , 63rd minute, the US was down 3-1 and needed an offensive boost, so his lesser defensive skills were probably less of a concern and he was a better fit for chasing the game.

        He was the fourth sub after Orozco, Yedlin and Mix so whether this is something that would have been done in a competitive game is open to question.

  6. After the Dutch went up 3-1, they basically shut off, thinking it was in the bag. A lot or players on both sides slowed down but Bradley kept pushing the team forward even before the equalizer.

    Well deserved and definitely MOTM. He more than anyone else on the USMNT looked very comfortable against that level of competition.

    Also, Memphis Depay looked boss this game. No wonder United is breaking the bank for him.

    • my favorite Depay moment today was him getting drilled in the face by a shot; sure it helped deflect it in the goal, but i’m just happy he got rocked in the face, he’s turning into a brat with his stardom. shame, too, he was such a fun player to watch growing up, now he’s just a roid-head with fame and an enlarged ego.


  7. Bradley was dominant!! He played that aggressive style that we need him to play. He tried to make things happen all game and was crisp with his passes. The best he’s been in awhile!! This aggressive Bradley hopefully shows up against Germans. Most importantly, he didn’t give up and pushed when we were down.

  8. I know this might sound crazy, but does anyone think it is possible a big team buys him from Toronto at some point? What kind of offer would it take? Maybe if he continues playing like this and has a great Copa America? He is proving he is elite and can play with the best.

    • It would take a big, big fee from a Champions League team, I think. Probably not one from England or Spain. Or frankly, Italy. I don’t know. He’s in an odd spot career wise now. I mean, I’m not demeaning him being in MLS – it’s clearly not holding him back, but unless he makes a move in the next year or so, I can’t see it happening. Personally. I’m not sure many Champions League teams are knocking down the door to pay a huge fee for an American who’s going to be on the wrong side of 30 in just a couple of years.

    • This is one of the reasons I think both the Bradley, and the Altidore acquisitions were incredible moves by Toronto. They’re obviously top tier MLS talent, but they also have potential to be sold back to those European fellas for a big payoff.

    • He is getting enough money to set himself up comfortably for life while playing in North America, starring on the US team and certain to make the next World Cup. He already spent a lot of time in Europe, in 4 different countries. I can’t imagine any big club offering him enough to entice him to leave when he really has it made here. It’s why a lot of top Mexican players stay in Mexico instead of going to Europe–they get paid as much as in Europe while getting to stay in their home country.

    • Yeah… the numbers just don’t align with Bradley. Top European teams rarely invest big bucks in emerging CM’s over the age of 24-25.

      For starters, the economics don’t work. Why spend big bucks on a guy that has no follow-on sale value? One reason Real Madrid and Barcelona spend so much on a single player is that they know they can sell that player for at least half the price they paid (or sometimes more than the original price, such as Di Maria) when they are done with him.

      The top European teams like to build around younger players, or buy talents in the truly elite category. A player like MB might be able to have an exceptional Copa America, etc…. but he would only ever become a cheap backup to any UEFA power that buys him. Nobody will build around him… he’s just not a youngster anymore.

      If Bradley wants to return to Europe (at any point), the only likely scenario is a Donovan-like loan to a top team. If he excels at an amazing level, then perhaps you see a full transfer to a second-tier CL team.

      You have to accept the facts. What first-tier Champions League team will build around a 28-29 year old American MF right now? It’s just not reasonable. If teams like AC MIlan, Barcelona, Juve, RM, Chelsea, Man U, etc. want American players, they wlll be shopping amongst the youngsters. Rubio Rubin and/or Cameron Carter-Vickers have a far better chance of playing for these teams than Bradley does.

    • Nice idea, but he’d have to go through the Reverse National Team Player Special De-allocation Secret Sequencing Process first.

    • I don’t know about that … Bradley passed one to Post’s INSIDE, only for him to knock it back into the field. Later, Post deflected a Dutch shot just barely across the US goal line. That said, Post did help deny a couple quality late Dutch chances, but those earlier struggles negates Post’s chances for MOM consideration in my opinion.

      • Yea but when Fabian knocked the ball off the Dutch dude when there was an empty net…. POST was there…. or it may have been Crossbar….

      • unfortunately neither Post nor Cross-Bar will have a chance to share the glory for that tremendous stop because Fabian Johnson was ruled off side.

      • this joke was really funny for a couple of comments until you ruined it with an out of place joke about being offside (which isn’t possible for a defender in his own box…)

      • which would make him wrong, Bac’s comment above was alluding to a US defensive play where FJ went to clear it and it hit the Dutch player and then hit the POST. that was my point, dude tried to jump in on a funny joke and ruined it because he could not follow said joke correctly. god forgives…

      • And how good do you think he’d be if he was on the bench at Roma? I remember reading on here that one of the reasons he may have chosen to come to MLS prior to the World Cup was because he was in danger of losing his spot at Roma.

      • Are you and Lalas going to keep insisting that Bradley doesn’t belong in his current position/role:? And if you do, please tell us who should play that position.

      • GW, how sure are you that MB WOULD be playing regularly at Roma right now?

      • It is hard to say.

        Around the time Mikey left I got the impression he was well liked and respected but this is Roma, where players come and go all the time. I don’t think they thought he was in their top 18 or so but that can change in a heartbeat.

        I thought he went to TFC because:
        1. It was a World Cup year and he need regular playing time.
        2. It was once in a life time money

        JK is merely acting on what BB always knew, that Mikey’s best trait is his relentless drive and that to get the best out of what Mikey does best you have to build the team around him.

        All this talk about Mikey being a #10 is a little wide of the mark,

        Mikey is really a #10, a #8 a #6 or whatever else is needed at that moment, a classic box to box guy. Having a dedicated #6 merely frees up Mikey to do other things. I always thought BB saw JJ as a mentor for Mikey, to show him how to do it. And JJ is probably the only guy on the USMNT with more “drive” than Mikey.

        Of course there can usually only be one dominant box to box guy during a game. I don’t recall JJ and Mikey both having an outstanding, dominating game at the same time.

        Mikey is becoming that younger, slightly more attacking, slightly less “physical” version of what Jermaine Jones was at his best. All JK is doing is giving him license to play that way.

        The problem at the World Cup was that he was clearly hampered by that foot surgery. It didn’t stop him from running but his touch was affected.

        If Mikey were to leave TFC it would have to be to a team like Chievo where he is the dominant player. Mikey will be at his best with the US because the team is being built around him. TFC looks like a hot mess to me but they are young yet


      • i feel ya. imho i think MB is basically Gerrard + Lampard + a debatable amount of water to dilute. lol

      • Mikey is a nice player but he is not in the Lampard/Gerrard class yet.

        English players are generally seen as overrated on SBI but those two guys were the real deal.

    • I think the move to TFC has helped him to the extent that it’s allowed him more freedom to join in the attack and gotten him more accustomed to an attacking role. He shows more confidence to take on players. It may degrade some of the more granular aspects of his skills like the pinpoint accuracy and consistency and tactical awareness necessary to play on the higher levels.

    • Bradley’s move to TFC was about his achieving a role wherein the team would depend upon him in ways that would never be the case at Roma. (Well that and money.)

      Rightly or wrongly, Atomic Ant or not, the success of TFC will be laid at Bradley’s feet. That sort of responsibility and accountability demands that Bradley perform well in all aspects of the game, but most particularly in using his abilities to put other players in good positions. That was in evidence against Holland, as it has been with TFC this year, and the refinement of that ability will pay great dividends for both the USMNT and TFC.

  9. Best Bradley this cycle and it’s not even close. He still tracked back some- had some good work that way but… I think the formation and role he had today suited him, seemed it unleashed a bit more aggression and kept him fresher/eliminated the excessive running he can sometimes get stuck doing. Rather than being dog tired late, he was still pushing forward hard.

    Another thought/something not being mentioned is the potential Williams showed in his short stint. Beckman was his usual solid… then Williams came in and flashed a bit of what he offers in contrast. Little quicker recovering on D and the ability to dribble out of trouble into space where Beckman will at times pass back or into trouble. Only a glimpse, but hopefully he continues and is a capable fill in w/ Beckman inevitably succumbs to age.

    • Yeah, very encourage by DW. There definitely might be something there. He’s very quick and strong defensively and flashes some occasional skills on the ball and in the attack. He’s also an easy guy to root for. He seems like he genuinely appreciates the opportunity to play for the US.

  10. I’m a Bradley fan, but if he could finish at the level of his playmaking he’d be a 50 cap Champions League player by now

    • Yeah and if he could do all that and dribble by everyone on the planet he’d be Messi. MB is who he is and that’s a damn good player.

    • I don’t disagree, but it’s hard to blame MB when the teams he truly made his name at (Chievo and Roma) deployed him entirely as a non-goalscoring MF. Everybody knows about his goalscoring exploits in Holland, but all it really earned him was unproductive moves to Gladbach and Aston Villa, where he never found a home.

      MB only established a true name for himself in continental soccer when he moved to Chievo, where he was deployed almost exclusively as an anchor DM, with very few offensive responsibilities. He earned his move to Roma after a season in which he scored a solitary goal.

      In the end, nobody besides the USMNT has ever given him primary playmaking responsibilities, let alone finishing responsibilities, since he was in Holland.

      • Not to dispute you, but my recollection is that he was a regular at Moenchen Gladbach (however you spell it) for almost 3 seasons and acquitted himself well until he had a falling out with his coach/manager who basically dumped him after that.

      • He was basically “okay” at Moengladbach (I hate writing it too). 76 appearances over 3 seasons isn’t exactly “regular” (part of this was due to a manger-player dispute as you mentioned) and it got far worse when he was loaned out to Villa.

        Offensively, he wasn’t bad (10 goals over 3 years), but Gladbach (and subsequently Villa) simply didn’t know what to do with him (sound familiar?).

        He was resurrected by the move to Chievo, who had zero offensive expectations for him. It worked out well and he was lauded for his performances (basically as CDM) for a very talent-starved team who managed a respectable finish.

        Bradley’s club career is ultimately very hard to define, and in that sense it should be no surprise that we are having the same problem at the NT level. He’s got too much attacking talent to simply leave at the back in a “Makalele Role” (which is pretty much what Chievo did with him). Roma tried to deploy him as a late-arriving attacker in their unique setup, and he was actually fitting in fairly well before he departed.

        But as a playmaker, his experience is limited almost entirely to USMNT and perhaps TFC. Outside of these (relatively recent) roles, nobody has ever consciously tried to run their attacking strategy through him.

    • I do sometimes wish he could finish better. He puts himself in some great positions to score goals and it’s a bit strange that a guy who can put a 50 yard ball directly on a teammate’s foot at a dead sprint can’t strike the ball with anywhere near the same accuracy or force when it’s directed on goal but it’s a completely different skill. He’s improved his ability to run at players since joining TFC, though. He’s made a couple amazing slalom dribbles through half the opposing side in the last few weeks.

      • i feel ya, i’d say his finishing could be more consistent rather than better. he does have the ability to make great shots which he has; he just doesn’t make them as often as you’d expect by his talent. but i agree.

  11. And rightly so. Also, the honorable mention should’ve been for Mix Diskerud. Everything changed after he entered the game.

    • Bradley had one of those games where he just did his thing…even when the US was down he was making plays that I’m sure was making Hiddink upset.

      Bradley is entering the sweet spot of his prime years as a player. We could see some special things from him in the run up to the next world depends on whether or not he wants it.

      • You keep Making ridiculous comments – just stop. Jordan Morris is going to be signed by Man U?!?!?!

        You really doubt whether or not Bradley ‘wants it’? Did you not just warch the game? Please, just stop typing things.

      • I have been an observer of soccer for well over 30 years. I have seen the wind blow overhyped players through the system over and over again. Morris is the real thing.

        There is a reason he is not with the U23’s right now, not with his peers on the U20’s (like Rubin and Hyndman)…it’s because he is better than they are. He shows that in the USMNT camps to the coaching staff and he shows it in his experiences with the full national team. He’s a complete player in the making who is already dominant enough in some facets to change the outcomes of games against the best teams in the world. His peers (Rubin, Hyndman, etc.) are not at that level.

        There will be growing pains, but Morris is special. Mexican fans already see it and know it. US fans are still too deluded by fantasies about other players to see what is happening in front of their faces in real time. Morris has already entered the arena. He has already stamped his name on the full national team roster for the foreseeable future. He is that good.

        I have been watching Morris to see how he fared against the U23’s from other countries and he has been a standout in Toulon. He looks like a man among boys. If the US team had any midfielders worth their salt, Morris would have a stack of goals in that tourney.

        To see a college kid come in and surpass the skill, speed of thought, and physical ability of young european professionals tells you what you need to know. He is a top quality prospect…A+ grade in any country. He confirms that by his ability to contribute at the full professional level with the USMNT. This kid isn’t coming into the game and drifting…he is dictating plays against seasoned european professionals and making things happen that contribute to wins.

        He is the only US youth field player I have seen since Donovan and Beasley (maybe Bradley too, but he flew under the radar a bit as a youth even though he had a strong run) who looks like they can play anywhere in the world as a 20 year old and contribute without being waited upon and coddled.

      • J. Thomas,

        Morris, so far, is doing what is he being asked to do, either score or make plays that lead to a score.

        On the Under 23’s he seems to be tearing things up.

        On the Senior team he has improved every time he has been capped. He has 4 caps; the first two were late game garbage time appearances. Then he started vs Mexico and scored. And now he shows very well vs the Netherlands. Mexico and Netherlands two big deal games for the US.

        Now nothing is guaranteed about where he goes from here but I don’t remember guys like Boyd, AJ, Rubin or Wood looking this good or being this dangerous. So I’m not concerned about where he plays his ball elsewhere.

        If he stays in college and he starts to regress then he’ll have a decision to make but it’s his decision.

        The USMNT is a part time job so I would expect him to be comfortable about where he will spend the majority of the rest of his time.

        Everyone is so sure he will fail to get better or even regress if he stays at Stanford. I think that is probably true but then again Morris shouldn’t be as good as he is now should he? So I’m not betting against him.

      • Michael Bradley seems like one of the most dedicated and serious athletes I have ever seen. This is probably why Klinsmann likes him so much. The chances of him “not wanting it” are probably close to zero.

      • not to mention, hasn’t his career to this point proven that “wants it”?

      • I’m sure Klinsmann also likes him because he is an excellent player. I am one of the people who knew back in the day that all of the “nepotism” garbage was ridiculous and completely without merit. I think that whole line of thinking was just a product of the whining of people who had “pet players” that Bradley kept on the bench or out of the squad altogether (like Freddy Adu, etc.)

        Bradley is in his prime now. He is not yet a finished product. What he does through the next world cup will define much of his career. He has another level in him. He has the level that he showed against Holland, the level that he often shows against Mexico. He can do that in the world cup and dominate a match and look like the best player on the field. Maybe even over most of the games he plays in the tournament.

        If he wants that, he can make that happen. It is within his realm of possibilities. Does he get there? I guess we’ll find out.

      • I’m with ya but please refrain from obvious oxymorons like ” Bradley is in his prime now. He is not yet a finished product. ” lol

        carry on

    • El C,

      “Mix Diskerud. Everything changed after he entered the game.”

      Maybe that was because Yedlin entered the game at the same time.

      • Gotta agree.

        Yedlin opened up so much space on the field that gave the midfielders room to operate.

        I thought Beckerman played a helluva game and Danny Williams impressed as well.

      • Honestly, I thought Mix had a great game, as well. He won more 50/50 balls than I have ever seen him win. Realistically, it’s hard to dispute that every single one of JK’s subs added value (though for the most part, nobody who was replaced was that much better/worse than their substitute)

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