Top Stories

Michael Bradley is still an important figure for the USMNT


When the U.S. Men’s National Team roster for the October friendlies against Colombia and Peru was released on Monday, there was only one name anyone cared to discuss.

Michael Bradley.

The 31-year-old midfielder is the most polarizing figure in the USMNT talent pool, and no matter how long he plays on the international level, his legacy will always be in question by those on the negative side of the fence.

Regardless of what your opinion on Bradley is, he still serves a purpose for the USMNT as it builds forward in the direction of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Bradley might not be playing for the USMNT in four years’ time in Qatar, and he might not even be Sarachan’s starting XI against Colombia or Peru, but his leadership qualities are vital to a young squad.

Outside of the clash with Mexico in September, the young USMNT hasn’t faced a meaningful game. So far, it’s been all about forming chemistry as a unit and hoping results come with it.

Now it’s time for the USMNT to rev it up and start with more of a purpose, and that’s where an experienced head like Bradley fits perfectly.

The 31-year-old Toronto FC midfielder is strictly fighting for a spot in the lineup, especially with the form he’s in at the moment.

But no matter how much time he spends on the field, the time together with Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie and others will have a lasting impact.

As an owner of 140 caps. the fourth-most in USMNT history, Bradley has an invaluable wealth of knowledge to share with the young Americans, whether it be how to navigate the dangers of Concacaf, or how to finesse against sides with more quality.

Bradley’s expertise comes into play specifically with Adams and McKennie, the central midfielders of the future who come January should both be galavanting through the Bundesliga.

Wil Trapp, Kellyn Acosta and uncapped players like Russell Canouse can benefit from Bradley as well in the coming months.

By sharing the intricacies of the game with the younger players, many of whom don’t know what it’s like to experience a continental competition like the Gold Cup yet, Bradley is doing the best he can as a veteran to prepare the next generation for the future.

In some cases, Bradley might even crack the starting lineup, but that could also depend on the tactics of the new manager, whenever he gets hired.

You could realistically line up Bradley, Adams and McKennie in a three-man midfield with McKennie sitting the furthest forward of the trio.

In that case, Adams would drop back to defend with Bradley and surge forward at times in a more conservative Jermaine Jones-type role.

There’s an even wilder experimental lineup in which Adams shifts out to the right to partner DeAndre Yedlin and McKennie plays the No. 8 next to Bradley. In that case, the USMNT would enter an attack-minded player in the No. 10 role to benefit from the runs made by Adams and McKennie, while Bradley picks his time to go forward as he patrols the space in front of the back four.

However, the more realistic usage of Bradley comes later in games as a closer in the final 25-30 minutes.

At some point, the new USMNT manager is going to have to trust the young core to finish off victories, but for now, Bradley is the perfect option to clog up the midfield channels and make a crucial tackle or two to preserve the lead.

With the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup quickly coming up on the horizon, testing out this strategy with Bradley, and potentially a few other veterans like Jozy Altidore, would suit whoever the manager is well.

While it’s easy to strum up your latest Bradley hate tweet before he even steps on the field again, which is something a good amount of his critics have already done, have some perspective when it comes to Bradley’s role.

We’re not talking about a player with a calamitous international track record, this is the fourth-most capped player in USMNT history.

You don’t join Cobi Jones, Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey in the pantheon of American greats just because your dad was once the head coach and everything was handed to you.

Bradley’s earned every ounce of success he’s had for club and country, and while he hasn’t been 100 percent perfect throughout his career, he still holds a meaningful place  within the USMNT program as it embarks on a new chapter with the failure to qualify for Russia in the background.


  1. You want an injection of leadership, toughness, & how to play your heart out every second for 90+ minutes?
    Hire Jermaine Jones on the coaching staff…

    • Man Bac is back too. Very cool. I agree with the sentiment generally, but I also have the sour taste of fat Jermaine Jones clowning himself for the Rapids over the course of far too many months. I suppose he has earned a Mulligan.

  2. Let’s skip this bs and get to the point of this article; I like that with all the pictures available you chose the one where Bradley looks baked out of his mind.

  3. Bradley time has expire with USNT. McKennie and Trapp are doing well in midfield, both of them just need more experience.

  4. I was a fan of M. Bradley during the 2010 & 2014 cycles. During that time he was consistently one of our top 10 field players. During that time I had no issue with MB going 90 every game. It was during the 2018 Cycle when he started loosing “IT”, and I started questioning our dependence on Bradley….and wanted to see others be given some time/experience (D. Williams).
    Now at the start of the 2022 cycle I am hoping we truly move on from MB. While he has experience (140 caps) and understands the difficulties associated with CONCACAF opponents, I don’t think he fits the model of what the USMNT is moving towards. The young European players we have now are more of a High Press, High Tempo squad….1st half against Portugal last year. While Bradley is more of a delay & slow the pace of the game kind of player.

    If he’s used as a closer (last 10 minutes) when we’re trying to maintain a win….I guess I’d be OK with him on the roster. If he comes on when we’re down, or starts any games at this point I’ll be very, very disappointed. Ultimately I want to limit MB’s ability to pass along any of the 2018 squads bad habits (Lazy, Entitled, Afraid).

    • Good comment. All things considered Bradley’s biggest shortcoming has always been his total cluelessness in situations where the team is playing from behind. I can’t remember anything as frustrating as watching us try to come back against Jamaica in the 2015 Gold Cup. Even though he pulled one back by himself, he kept bafflingly playing square balls out into touch, which Jamaica duly turned into 90 seconds of time wasting. When the US is even or ahead, he is lethal and threatening. Always has been. I’d like to see our new generation learn from that… but yeah, I don’t see him as a critical piece for the cycle.

  5. I say hell yes to having Bradley back, despite agreeing with most of the comments I just read.
    After we (US SOCCER BABY!) failed to make the WC, we had a sour taste about the squad, we were going to bleed a bunch of promising young colts, the next generation, the imagined core of the next WC. We were gonna give them a look, let them play/live together for awhile, and decide who we wanted to build that future around.

    The next part of the plan was to slowly fill in the discovered weaknesses of the new generation and bring in mainstays from the last squad that we think could help us in qualifying, other competitions, and in their general experience. The Bradley’s and Altidore’s and Howard’s would then get limited chances to see how they could fit into this new team, and if we needed them to play our best soccer.

    Now starts the real competition phase. I’m pumped. We bring back the old captain first.

    I’d like to see us start with Bradley and Mckennie as dual eights in front of Adams, then maybe switch Bradley and Adams after a bit. I wanna see if Bradley plays well with this CM pair, this CB pair, all these dudes. After this, Sarachan should have a good idea about what kind of role Bradley takes on in the group and if it works or hurts the developing chemistry.

    I think us not having a coach at this time isn’t that big of a deal, since the team is seeking to hire a coach who will collaborate and share a vision with Earnie Stewart and whoever else. And that’s what’s going on currently, so this ‘separating wheat and chaff’ phase won’t be lost when a new coach comes in because he’s gonna be part of the larger decision making team.

    • hell Yes!!!!!!!! Lets bring back the failed captain from last cycle, the one who walks in our most desperate hour and lets teach the young colts how your place on the team should be based on who your father is not on your current ability. Lets also ONLY bring Bradley back, the worst performer this year of everyone. Hell Yes!!!!

    • YES…. AMP!!! And as always, it’s the old school guy who has the stones to do something besides take the bait and throw the predictable tantrum that the article was soliciting.

  6. “Bradley might not be playing for the USMNT in four years’ time in Qatar, and he might not even be Sarachan’s starting XI against Colombia or Peru, but his leadership qualities are vital to a young squad.”

    Did we need him against France, Portugal or most recently Mexico? I surely don’t understand how this call up is justified given his recent form. Call up’s should be earned! You climb to the top without the use of an escalator.

  7. Hell call up Reyna, cobi Jones and McBride those players have leadership qualities that I would want to see

  8. Pretty predictable response in the Ives comments. Some have even been saving quotes to use to denigrate Bradley. Sad when supposed fans of the USMNT cannot help themselves.

    • its even more sad when posts like these are posted. True USMNT fans = not bending over backwards for the Bradley’s anymore. We had over a decade of it, its time to put USMNT first.

      • For a very large part of that decade the USMNT played better when Bradley was on the squad. Recall that even JK began not believing that, but the facts changed his mind.

        What is truly sad is that so many USMNT fans are unable to handle the disappointment of not qualifying for the WC without vilifying everyone involved in USMNT soccer; the more important the role they played, the more virulently and viciously they are attacked. It does serve to show how important Bradley’s role was.

      • Thank you Dennis, couldnt agree more with your take regarding these uber sensitive fans that still think crying about the failed WC bid has any place in todays USMNT. People need to get iver their emotions and support what the team is trying to do NOW, and that means including players from last years failure because if people havent noticed we dont have a plethora of our younger players playing consistently at club level like many nations around the globe do. The NT is not where development takes place, so if fans want to be angry be angry about the younger players not doing enough at their clubs to waarant consistent call ups, or more importantly doing enough to keep older players out of the team. Older players were always going to return in some capacity, Sarachan said as much, and it is also a healthy way to bridge the gap from a more veteran laden team to a more youthful team with credible experience. Bradley, Altidore and the like know they didnt play well that night at T&T, they have said as much, but the time for vilifying and diminishing whole careers because one a few games needs to come to an end, especially considering these players have done more good than bad in the shirt, period!

  9. I’ve got an idea: let’s play Dave Sarachan as the #6 and let Michael Bradley coach. We’ll get the same meaningless result either way.

  10. “but his leadership qualities are vital to a young squad”

    Here are some of the fruits of his “leadership”

    1. Raging out on Wynalda for calling him out in the press for poor play. In Eric’s words of response: “Grow the [expletive] up,” Wynalda reportedly said. “You have a problem with me complimenting players who play your position.”
    2. Trying to engineer a coup against JK, where in which Clint Dempsey had to tell him (when asked to take part), “I wouldn’t have done this to your dad, and I’m not doing it now.”
    3. A worst XI nomination in the 2016 Copa America
    4. When faced with Alexi Lalas criticism of the USA’s play pre-T&T debacle, he said – ““One of the recent [sayings] that I’ve seen that I like is, ‘The lion doesn’t care about the opinion of the sheep.’ I’ll leave it at that. …. It’s pretty fitting.” Alexi is one of the USA’s legacy players with a history of propping up domestic players like MB, so to respond to criticism this way was the height of arrogance.

    I don’t want to young kids around this “leadership” of thin-skinned failure.

      • Maybe they are, but who cares? The whole leadership narrative about MB is garbage.

        And do you want a guy who captained the squad to an unmitigated failure against a garbage T&T side to show younger, more talented players “how to navigate the dangers of Concacaf, or how to finesse against sides with more quality”?

        I sure don’t. 2010/2014 cycle Bradley? Sure, get me a time machine and I’m all about it…but the MB we have now is a self-important, entitled “philosopher of football” who can’t take criticism, thinks the fans owe him for the years he put in, and frankly hasn’t been a true high-impact player since he left Roma.

  11. I do think that the negative response to Bradley is overblown and unfair. He played badly in that game at T&T, but so did the rest of the players. Bradley was captain and couldn’t lead the team out of their funk, and that can’t be denied. That shouldn’t take away from many positive performances over the years. Now I’ve been on record saying that the teams from previous cycles shouldn’t have been built around Bradley, thought it was a mistake then, and I still believe that. But I always believed he was one of our best 11 players in those cycles and should be playing, just not as the “centerpiece” and not so many minutes. All that being said, I don’t think Bradley should be called in any longer. I don’t think his current play warrants it, there are too many young players of similar quality that need the minutes, and the games do not matter for quite awhile. The leadership qualities of Bradley I have to wonder about as well. There was definitely a locker room divide in the last team, enough that it spilled over onto the field and we all saw the team quit at times, which was shocking to me, who has followed the USMNT for over 20 yrs and don’t ever remember that happening before. So I don’t know if Bradley had anything to do with that, but he was captain, and I just don’t think its worth taking the chance at this point in a complete rebuild and with some talented young players. If Sarachan wants to use Bradley as a closer like the author mentioned and bring him in late as a bit of a send-off I could be convinced, but if he starts and wears the armband, I think its a mistake and I will officially be off the Sarachan bandwagon (wasn’t ever really on).

    • Hahahaha. Too true. It has become a competition on this site to see who is the most “down” on the USMNT’s future. Here are some tips for survival:
      Believing Michael Bradley has any value as a human being, let alone a soccer
      player, is absolutely out of the question. He’s in active talks with ISIS. Also jogging.
      Believing that anybody who hasn’t previously coached Barcelona is deserving of coaching the USMNT is also not allowed.
      Be advised that the single greatest soccer team in history is the current Mexico side (far better than 1970 Brazil). Any time we even play competetively against them it’s because they were playing their C side.
      Any player who has not been selected for an appearance in the current USMNT side is better than their counterpart who was selected.
      Dave Sarachan shot JFK and Jesus on the same evening. It was Zardes who provided the gun.
      Kenny Saief is far better than Lionel Messi….he just needs to be healthy and deployed properly by the right coach. Whoever that is.

  12. “You don’t join Cobi Jones, Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey in the pantheon of American greats just because your dad was once the head coach and everything was handed to you”

    Actually, it was handed to him. His father drafted him as a kid at 16 for his metrostars team, when everyone else passed. His father gave him 90 minutes every game as a teen for USMNT and built team around him.

    maybe that’s why Bradley is really poor right now. because he is burnt out from always being allowed to play.

    he also showed a poor and entitled attitude after his mishaps and fan criticism. Bradley should be lucky that his dad was so well-connected. He could have been working at Ihop now, and not playing soccer if he wasent drafted 14 years ago.

  13. Old-boy network in full swing. soccer reporters in this country have to keep their access so expect numerous articles on Bradley’s importance to the team, as he slow jogs around the pitch.

    • I know right. Can’t wait for Twellman/Holden and company to point out all the ‘little things’ Bradley does that contribute to the team.

  14. Michael Bradley- the Philosopher of Football. A tremendous Jogger. A true patriot who can lead the way for the American player.

    • Rob as a USMNT fan I hate Marquez more than any other player. That said don’t insult Marquez’s career resume by comparing him to Bradley. Marquez won La Liga with Barca(200 appearances for club) multiple times, won a UEFA Champions League and a Ligue 1 title in France. One player is Darth Vader the other is Jar Jar Binks.

  15. The other title SBI was considering for this article: “We Will Make Outrageous Claims that 95% of our Readers Disagree With Just for Clicks”

  16. I think that a great idea. Also lets bring in:

    Graham Zusi, Omar gonzalez, Alejandro Bedoya, Joe Corona, Edgar Castillo, Matt Besler, Jozy Altidore, retirees Clint dempsey and Jermaine Jones (we’ll call them out of retirement), Chris Wondolowski, DaMarcus Beasley, Tim Howard…..the works ?

    Whatever Bradley brings to the table is definitely not skill or ability, so how about we just call EVERYBODY BACK to add to the support and advice for our young guns ?

    • You did call for the call-up of Marvell Wynne last year when he had been sidelined for six months with a heart condition so…

    • I’m not 100% sure what you’re talking about, I think I was making an analogy about other players and you only half read what I said and started firing off an emoji and all caps response. Everyone knows that Freddy Adu was our biggest bust of a goalkeeper.

      • Nope you were not… didn’t know his position. I was talking about players with speed like wynne and a few others but you on the other hand, were we off on FREDDY ADU’s postion. Freddy Adu of all people

      • You can’t gaslight me. Please join reality with the rest of us. Repeating lies doesn’t make them truth.

      • you tried to start the gas-lighting my friend, I’m just giving you a taste of your own fumes Lol. So in the future keep it civil

Leave a Comment