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SBI USMNT Man of the Match: Michael Bradley

Jozy Altidore Michael Bradley USMNT Iceland 82

Throughout the past several years, Michael Bradley has proven to be one of the U.S. Men’s National Team’s most important players, and Sunday’s 2016 debut proved no different.

Featuring in the first USMNT game of 2016, Bradley continued to show his influence by notching a pair of assists in a 3-2 victory over Iceland. Bradley’s passing ability and deadly set piece placement proved to be the difference for the U.S., earning the midfielder honors as SBI USMNT Man of the Match.

After seeing the U.S. go down a goal early, Bradley helped push the U.S. level by feeding Jozy Altidore on the game’s opening goal. Bradley’s play continued to drive the U.S. from that point forward as the midfielder continued to push forward. Several dangerous Bradley set pieces tested the Iceland backline before the Toronto FC midfielder’s corner paved the way for Michael Orozco’s finish for the second goal of the game. In the dying moments, Bradley added yet another assist, finding a leaping Steve Birnbaum on the back post for the game-winning finish.

Bradley’s creativity and play-making abilities shined yet again on Sunday, as the midfielder bested Birnbaum, Altidore and Lee Nguyen for Sunday’s honors.

What did you think of Bradley’s performance? Who was your USMNT Man of the Match?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I am noticing more and more that Bradley – generally the best player on the field, in my opinion – seems to run into his own players.

    While i appreciate his desire to have and to hold the ball, why does he have to retreat behind the center line to get a 2 foot uncontested pass from a defender?

    Why does he run with the ball to the the open spot on the right side of midfield, when the right outside midfielder is already standing there?

    Why are he and Jozy and Jones getting into each other’s way resulting in bouncy, too fast, too close passes that allow one of 3 defenders in the area to simply step in and clear the ball away?

    I can’t help but think that there is a more efficient way for Bradley (and Jones does this too) to get the ball and be dangerous in attack.

    • Not trying to Jurgen bash here at all, but most matches, players are deployed on the wings whose natural instinct is to drift inside and attack centrally. Therefore, there were times yesterday when Jozy, Zardes, Nguyen, Bradley, and Jones were all occupying the same space. This naturally creates poor spacing and constricted movement. That being said, I think Bradley and Nguyen did a nice job of creating attacks in tight spaces, and Acosta overlapping constantly allowed Nguyen to move inside more than he might have otherwise. You saw the same thing in the second half when Nagbe came into the game as an outside mid; he had no intention of staying on the wing because he is more comfortable and a better player in central midfield.

      • Some of that has to be on the players. Playing at this level they should be able to find open spots and play their position rather than just doing what they like to do. When I was playing, as a playmaking center mid, one of my constant entreaties to my teammates was don’t bunch up in attack. Whenever I played a sport, you did what was needed to be done in order for the team to be successful. Although I preferred the attack, I saved several goals by covering for the back line and goalie and saving balls off the goal line. I kind of get tired of people saying oh, so and so should only play in such and such a position and do such and such. And if you are not good at a certain aspect of the game, rather than try and play around it, you should practice it until it’s no longer a liability.

      • “And if you are not good at a certain aspect of the game, rather than try and play around it, you should practice it until it’s no longer a liability.”

        gary page,

        these are professionals at the top of their game–i’m sure they’re practicing enough.

        it’s been a while, but i used to play, too (what a coincidence!); most practice time is spent on fitness and position-specific drills. pretty sure their club coaches wouldn’t be too agreeable to a player asking if he could practice with another group instead, on the off-chance that klinsmann might play him “out of position” for a couple games a year.

        yes, it’s the player’s job to play their role, whether it’s their preferred position or not. and it’s klinsmann’s job to put the players where they have the best chance of succeeding.

        for what it’s worth (not much), i thought the player selection was fine this game. i initially cringed at nguyen on the wing just because i really wanted to see him as a central attacker, but conceded that, with the options available, it wasn’t a bad choice; and then he got time in the middle anyway, so win-win!

      • Nate Dollars. Perhaps you haven’t noticed, but there are a lot of professionals who are very one-footed. And I’m talking about correcting shortcomings when you are still developing and if you haven’t corrected a weakness by the time you are a professional, you should spend ;time on your own to do so. As a recreational athlete I would do this all the time. In tennis, for example, my backhand wasn’t very good, so instead of running around it as some people do, I made it a point to use it as much as possible until it was as accurate as my forehand. Why can’t professionals, for whom this is their job, do the same sort of thing? If you are given an assignment at your workplace and it’s something you don’t feel is your strong point, do you tell your boss, no give it to this other worker? You don’t do that if you want to get ahead. I don’t understand why some people slam players for some things, but then give them a pass for others. If you usually play center mid but the team needs you on the wing, you should play the wing as best you can and ask other wingers for advice, or study the position, or whatever. My other favorite spectator sport is college basketball. My college team has a great coach who wins by having his team play great defense. Players know that if you don’t want to play defense, you don’t get to play. If you don’t want to play another position when your team needs you there, you shouldn’t play. Why is this so hard to understand?

      • first of all, you probably shouldn’t compare your practice regimen to that of a international-level athlete; just because *you* had time to work on your backhand, doesn’t mean they do.

        secondly, you might have a point if you were talking about what their club coaches wanted. but as i said, they would be taking time out of their very congested and regimented schedules (keeping in mind that adequate rest is just as important as physical activity in any athletic training) to work on something that they *might* be called to do twice a year. sure, i guess they could just overwork themselves and accept the risk of breaking down or antagonizing their bosses. or klinsmann could find a way to play to their strengths.

  2. Can’t disagree with MB, he was solid in the middle and had the really nice through ball to Jozy for the goal, and a couple of other deep passes that led to chances. Nguyen stood out to me as someone who can connect in the final third, and help the buildup. I’d like to see more of him with our first choice players. Birnbaum is obviously a great athlete and is superior in the air, but I can’t give good marks to a central defender when his defense gets cut up repeatedly. And it was right down the middle that Iceland had success, so not sure we can blame the outside backs too much.

  3. He wasn’t MOTM but the player I was most pleased with was Kellyn Acosta. Playing LB, a position he normally doesn’t play, he made several nice runs and passes and was solid defending.

  4. Why oh why does the soccer media feel it necessary to ram MB’s greatness down our throats at every possible moment? Make no mistake, MB is one of our best and generally steadiest performers but was his performance in this game really MOTM level or just a case that no one individual really had an outstanding individual performance. I like MB but it really gets tiresome when the soccer media tries to paint him as the US Messi. Actually I think that the whole team deserves plaudits for their consistent ability to carry the ball out of the back. There were actually large segments of the game where we actually controlled the run of play. Yes, yes, I know, Iceland is not a world power, and this was not their first team!! Nevertheless, our passing was generally quick and accurate which seems like something to be applauded.

    • Michael Bradley puts in man of the match performances in most games he plays. Hopefully his injuries are fully behind him and he can really excel this year.

    • unless your point is that there shouldn’t always be a “man of the match”, then i’m not sure what you’re saying. the motm doesn’t have to have a stellar game, he just has to be the best player on the (usually) winning team. no one really stood out to me last night, but i’d say it was likely bradley for this last game.

    • Yes, I agree that MB didn’t exactly light the world on fire. And in some instances, the MOTM actually plays on the losing team. However, I don’t see anyone besides yourself crying over the title of the award. Would you prefer your quote-unquote JACTNOIRHAOIP Award instead (just a case that no one individual really had an outstanding individual performance)?

    • He’s only playing because his dad is the coach. Ooops, that was 6 years ago we heard that. Well, he’s only playing because of his MLS record, he’ll never make it anywhere else. No he’s been a consistent starter in 3 top leagues in Europe. I know, he can’t be any good because you must not like him.

      • Please read my entire comment before replying! Saying that I like him and that he’s one of our best and steadiest players isn’t enough for you!!? Please read Soccer Fan’s comment — what he said! Foreign fans have to be laughing their a–es off at our love affair with MB.

    • You guys are delusional if you don’t see the US soccer media lovefest with Michael Bradley. It’s a bit excessive.

      Is he our best field player? Certainly. But he’s not the world class player the media tries to paint him as. He wins the MOTM just about every single time, even when he wasn’t the best player on the field. The media has also always maintained that we would be unable to function as a team without Bradley, yet when he was absent or out of form (the World Cup, for example), the team still performed quite well on numerous occasions. They always have nothing but adoration for this guy, even during the Coach Bob years when he was handed the keys to the team even though he quite possibly didn’t even deserve to start. I can’t remember ever reading something negative about MB90 from an American writer, while Donovan and Dempsey received plenty of criticism over the years. When he left a storied club currently playing in the Champions League for the big bucks in the MLS, no one criticized a player who had always been praised as being a ‘warrior’ who only plays for ‘glory.’ Short-term profit is more important to him than his soccer career, however.

      Why does the media worship him so much? His Uncle writes for ESPN, that’s a big part of it. But I think that it’s mostly that MB90 is “all Amurican” unlike some of these dual nationals. He’s as white as snow and plays the game the way we think it should be played: all heart, hustle, and athleticism. He gets really emotional when he plays and makes really exaggerated, tough-looking facial expressions. And he is from the American soccer family (his dad). There are a lot of outsiders within US soccer–foreign coaches (especially Klinsmann), dual nationals, etc. but you can’t be any more authentically US soccer than Michael Bradley.

      • You’re not wrong about MB getting more praise than he sometimes deserves, but you lost me with the “All Amurican” comment. I think you’re fishing for something that’s not there, suggesting his race has something to do with why fans or reporters like him. Busting your ass for the team SHOULD earn you a ton of praise. Even if he’s not statistically getting it done some nights, he always plays with a purpose. The greatest American to play CM, in my opinion, was Claudio Reyna. It doesn’t bother me that he can speak Spanish, or has a tan. Lots of fans, including many English speaking white ones, begged for Julian Green to be on the WC roster. I don’t criticize Jozy because he’s black, and from a Haitian family. I do it because he’s consistently inconsistent. I get what you’re saying, but to me that’s a bit of a reach. I’ll defend any player who gives everything they have for the team, Bradley just seems to do it more often.

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