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Michael Bradley: Columbus has “fallen behind” and “hasn’t keep pace” with growth of MLS

The situation in Columbus has not gotten better since an MLS game was last played on November 5.

Despite the raucous crowd at Mapfre Stadium on Tuesday night for the first leg of the Eastern Conference final, one of the league’s biggest names didn’t shy away from a harsh, but honest critique.

Asked about the possibility of Columbus losing its MLS team, Michael Bradley offered a blunt assessment that won’t go over well with the very fans who spent much of Tuesday night booing his ever touch.

“On one hand, you feel for the small group of loyal supporters that they have and have been here since the beginning who continue to support the team and come out week after week,” Bradley said. “On the other hand, you can’t deny the fact that things here have really fallen behind in terms of the atmosphere in the stadium, the quality of the stadium, what it’s like to play here.”

“I don’t know who’s at fault for that,” Bradley said. “There’s a lot going on and I get that and as an outsider I don’t know what that falls on, but again the reality is as the league has continued to grow, and this is not the only one, this is one of a few markets that has not kept pace.”

As for the boos he heard, and whether they motivate him, Bradley dismissed the notion.

“I’ve got bigger things to worry about than whether a few people in Columbus don’t like me,” Bradley said.

Bradley and Toronto FC return home on November 29 to face the Crew in the second leg of the Eastern Conference final.


  1. One thing I know is that TV networks probably don’t like to show games from Columbus. The attendance has been mediocre for over a decade, the stadium is dilapidated and although the team may be entertaining to watch in the soccer sense, all the empty yellow bleachers make for a pathetic viewing experience.

    • True but is the only solution moving to another city? Even forcing Columbus with an ultimatum, of a new stadium or we’re leaving would be better then the move they are pulling now.

  2. In the past, I appreciated Bradley’s apparent humility and candor as a USMNT player and professional. In the recent past, Bradley appears to have lost his humility as he has played both for Toronto and the USMNT. The last two playoff games, Bradley has confronted the bench of the opposing team following fouls. I understand the need to be a good captain; but to confront past national teamers like Berghalter doesn’t make sense to me. And to chime in on Columbus seems a little less like someone speaking the truth and a little more like someone with an axe to grind. Honestly, I am a little disappointed in our past USMNT captain.

  3. Bradley is NOT wrong.
    Soccer fans in the US whine, it is what they do for some reason.

    If MLS is going to succeed and it is, it will be when Columbus is drawing 30k-50k…but it isn’t moving toward that. They have very good teams, not a doormat, and it isn’t happening.

    I am NOT for moving, but it can’t go both ways. We cant say salaries, quality, etc will go up and Columbus will not. Columbus isn’t alone, Dallas, DC, Chicago, etc.have pathetic attendance.

    It is very strange the disconnect. Very strange. I don’t get why the whining, why the wanting to see soccer in the country fail, why the lack of support. I do think MLS succeeds inspite of it, but man……QUIT WHINING and watch soccer.

    • Are you kidding?! This should never be something that comes out of the mouth of the captain of the national team that just failed to qualify for the world cup?!?! This isn’t some fan at home on his computer alone. Such classlessness on Mr. Bradley’s part here but the man has had blinders on his whole life so no wonder he is out of touch.

  4. He’s not wrong on some points, but a lot of those things that haven’t been kept up with are the responsibility of the owner, not the city or supporters. Also, we should be used to this by now, Michael doesn’t like to let criticism go, he’ll respond to it and rip into whoever was critical of him and then say it doesn’t bother me any. Well, actually it seems to.

  5. all emotions, zero logic from those commentators. Bradley is not wrong. Columbus has been one of the most boring teams to watch along with Colorado and their crowd size showed it too

    • In my opinion, the great shame of it all is that Columbus has been an awesome team to watch. The style Berhalter has them playing is the best in the league (I understand that everyone might not enjoy a possession based attack as much as I do), yet the support has still been lacking severely.

  6. Mr. Bradley needs to concern himself less with these issues and more with his play on the field. He seems to forget what he gets paid to do. If he never wears the USA Jersey again it will not bother me a bit.

      • He could just shut his mouth about a team he is not associated with and talk about what happens on the field.
        Actually just shutting his mouth period would be best.

  7. What Michael is saying is that even if a team historically has done well, makes the playoffs regularly, and even made it to MLS Cup within last 2 years, if they cannot afford the shiny new toys (stadium), they are falling behind and inferred they should be moved. Fortunately, clubs are not players with a finite career spans. They can experience ebbs and flows in performance and infrastructure. Even I know that, with a league there will be organizations with different strengths and weaknesses. It’s really callous short-sighted, and disrespectful to the Crew organization to say they have fallen behind given current organic movement to help raise the team up to it’s previous levels.

    • This “organic movement” to save the team would not be necessary if there had been an “organic movement” among a larger group of people to support the team.

      JD – Respect, but the only fanbases that are in danger of losing their teams are those who don’t support them well enough.

    • Bradley, “It’s really callous short-sighted, and disrespectful to the Crew organization to say they have fallen behind…given the fact that YOUR TEAM LOOKED ABSOLUTELY TOOTHLESS (against the very Crew you seems to be looking down on) with 0 shots on goal without the savior Sebastian Giovinco in the line-up
      I’m not saying, I’m just saying hahahahahahaha 🙂

      • Bizzy – Your comprehension skills are lacking here. Your opinion of Bradley’s performance on the field has absolutely nothing to do with the validity of his comments.

      • @Don Lamb
        It means “Keep your mouth shut Michael Bradley” who are you to criticize the crew…..and of course you will not comprehend, you are a Bradely fanboy 😉 (No surprise there hahahahaha)

  8. not surprised, but the comments here are mostly just ad hominem attacks, rather than addressing bradley’s remarks.

    it sucks to hear, but i think he’s got a point, whether it’s ultimately right or wrong. the american sports franchise system (which mls is trying to emulate) values growth over tradition, and so teams that aren’t constantly improving their organization tend to get left behind—regardless of their performance on the field.

    my dc united is another prime example of this (i’ll assume that’s another one of the “few markets” bradley’s referring to). throughout the first decade of the league, it was common to hear opposing players mention rfk as the most intimidating places to play. and while we all patted ourselves on the back, we failed to realize that it was just relative to the other mediocre-to-bad environments around the league. so as the league continued to grow in both quantity and quality, dc united went from standard bearers to has-beens, even during years of relative success on the field.

    it took dc united about 15 years (give or take) to realize that they couldn’t keep up the pace simply through better acquisitions or management (and my opinion is that they couldn’t even do that), but through major steps forward in infrastructure to show the front office that they need to be taken seriously. basically a case of “mls helps those who help themselves”. and like i said at the beginning, i’m not saying it’s right or wrong—just the way it is.

  9. I am not a fan of Bradley, but he did not say anything wring here. Columbus, in terms of infrastructure (especially) and a little bit of atmosphere is fallen behind. It makes no sense to bemoan the fact that you were the first soccer specific stadium if there has not been any significant improvement in 10 years. That being said, MLS and garber should not allow the team to move to Austin. The preferred site of your national team and one of your flagship teams and you are going to let an owner move it to a city that does not even want it. I am not even a fan of owners moving teams.

  10. Bradley lost a lot of fans. I cheered like hell for him in South Africa and Brazil, but man I’ve listed all respect for him as a person, after comments like that.

    I’m overcome with sadness that our USMNT captain truly does not understand what US Soccer is all about. Even if Columbus were behind (which I would contest, as there are at least five other clubs with worse stadium and support situations) to have 21,000+ fans come out tonight and Bradley calls them a “small group” – what a piece of sh*t comment.

    I’m sorry I ever supported that man. Never again.

    • A. Bradley was not talking about the 21k in the stadium last night. He is referring to the general atmosphere there for most games.
      B. He recognized that Columbus is one of a “few” markets that have fallen behind. He never implied that they are the only ones.
      C. He fully acknowledged that he doesn’t know the root cause of the poor attendance/atmosphere/stadium. He completely left the door open to suggest that ownership could actually be the issue.
      D. He gave props and showed sympathy for the supporters who have actually been there for the team.
      E. He clearly stated that he doesn’t really care what dumb ass fans think about him. Good for him.

      • @Don Lamb
        …and you know all this how? Are you the president of the Michael Bradley fanboy club or something, and he happen to explain himself to you? Because i know for a fact you didn’t get all that from SBI lol
        …..Hmmmm, or maybe you are Michael Bradley defending himself on SBI!!! (and if so you let us down because you suck….just had to get it out hahahahaha 😀 )

  11. MLS sockpuppet. Good old-boy network/ nepotism beneficiary. His best decision would have been to publicly state that “as captain I let the United States down with poor leadership and attitude, due to this reason, I will relinquish my captaincy and strive to help the next generation in achieving their success with a supporting USMNT role. I will also advocate for victims of nepotism, to take a stand against nepotism and favoritism, and make sure it does not have a strong-hold in society like the way I greatly benefitted from it myself”.

    • Yeah what a disgrace when Bradley’s dad, Jurgen Klinsmann, made him captain. Roma probably signed him because of his Dad too right?

      • Dunno about any of that but Oh My was he looking rotten the second half against Columbus. Nearly gave up a goal impersonating a traffic cone on defense and got duly roasted, was bapping bad turnovers all over the park, and worst of all, to judge from his comments, he still seems strangely unaware just how bad he was really playing.

        Whatever you think of the dude personally, there is no doubting his game is tanking, and pretty severely. I have a hard time believing he’s really going to be a fixture with the Nats going forward, much less the captain.

      • My self-esteem takes such a huge hit when I actually find myself agreeing with you. This is one of those very rare occasions.

        As soon as I read the comment, I had similar thoughts. Bradley earned what’s Bradley got. I’m not going to take that away from the man.

      • Bradley started to thrive when he wasent spoiled like he was under pappa and close family buddy (Arena). That’s why he became captain in his prime because under klinsmann he was actually for the first time had to prove his spot 24/7. No more kiddie gloves and golden spoon. Klinsmann also had to satisfy mls to get certain call-ups so naming bradley a mls/old boy network golden boy, was klinsmann way of playing nice, even if he hated the establishment.

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