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Michael Bradley on Concacaf Nations League: “Not a huge fan”

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WASHINGTON — Count Michael Bradley among the group of people that is not in favor of the creation of the Concacaf Nations League.

The U.S. Men’s National Team crushed Cuba by a 7-0 mark in a Concacaf Nations League match on Friday night. The collective and individual performances in the bloodbath were every bit as reflective as the lopsided scoreline indicated, once again raising questions as to how beneficial the confederation’s brand new competition is to growing the game in the region.

While it can certainly be argued that the tournament helps minnows like Cuba grow by giving them games against superior opposition, there is also the belief that the Nations League does very little for the top teams in the region. Former USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann recently called it “a waste of time,” and Bradley admitted that he didn’t care for the competition when he was asked about its value.

“Not a huge fan, at all,” said the experienced midfielder, who did not play in the one-sided affair. “You want to play on as many days as possible against the best teams, against the biggest teams, and the reality is for us, playing games in Concacaf, they don’t do enough to prepare us for the types of games that you see at a World Cup.

“I’ve talked about this in a lot of other moments, where the formula for qualifying and the types of games you play in qualifying is so different than the formula to do well at a World Cup or the types of games you play at a World Cup.

“That’s our reality. There’s no use complaining about it because it is what it is, but (that’s what I think) if you just ask me about how I feel about added mandatory games like this.”

USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter and most of the rest of the Americans were a bit more diplomatic when asked directly if Nations League matches like Friday’s — in which the USMNT took a lead after 31 seconds, was up 3-0 through nine minutes, and led 6-0 at halftime — help the program grow.

“We can’t control the opponents, we can’t control who is on the other half of the field so that’s not a question for me to answer,” said goalkeeper Brad Guzan. “We can control our performance and how we grow as a team and how we get better. Tonight, especially the first half, we created loads of chances.

“We were getting behind them at will and that’s a good thing for us going into the next stretch of games.”

Berhalter also tried putting the focus on the USMNT‘s approach to the encounter rather than the level of the match.

“I think for us it was more about thinking our movements, thinking about how to execute our movements, and I think the players learned a lot from it,” said Berhalter. “The timing of it, the touches necessary, the body preparation necessary. I see Jackson (Yueill), as the game went on, he was getting more comfortable in his positioning, in his body shape turning, in his playing forward.

“…But for me, it’s just about the players learning and picking up the details.”

Just how much was learned can and likely will be argued in the coming days, especially if more of the tournament’s matches end up getting decided as quickly and lopsidedly as the one in the nation’s capital. Sure, lesser teams may point to gaining valuable experience in these showdowns, just as Cuba did post-game on Friday, but whether that is a net positive for Concacaf remains to be seen.

After all, top countries in the region like the USMNT probably need more games against better, not lesser, opponents to raise their own levels.

“Look, just playing friendlies isn’t always the answer,” said Bradley. “There are certain friendlies against certain opponents, especially for a team in a certain moment, that can have real value. In other moments, the experiences I’ve had along the way, whether it’s a Copa America or it’s a Confederations Cup, these are real games, real tournaments where you’ve got a lot riding on these games.

“The level of the opponent goes up, the level of the game, everything gets put under the microscope a little bit more. As players and as a team, we’d love to have more of those but, again, there’s other people making those decisions.”

Comments

  1. CONCACAF needs to look at revamping their entire structure. If you’re going to have this “Nations League” than reduce the Gold Cup to only once every 4 years. Use the “Nations League” as the qualifiers process for the Gold Cup.
    If scheduled correctly this would open a window to do a Joint tournament between CONCACAF & CONMEBOL. Use the Gold Cup as the qualifier for this tournament or Use the FIFA rankings, assigning the top 6 teams from each confederation (maybe guest invites to other nations).
    With the removal of the Confederations Cup this would be a decent replacement and provide a good challenge to CONCACAF’s top teams while still giving Minnows a way to make money and have competitive games since they rarely make it to the Gold Cup.
    May not be as good for CONMEBOL competition wise, but would be good financially for them.

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  2. So playing against the Faroe Islands, Andorra, Montenegro, & Romania may be a waste of time for European giants. …. but I haven’t seen or read any articles, from/or about players from that region making a deal of it. You don’t hear Japanese or Australian players complaining about playing Thailand, Vietnam or Quatar. In this sport, 1 goal is 1 point! It’s the worlds game, that majority of humans on earth, play this sport. You play the countries in your region. How would it look if there was a rule, where ‘only countries with a robust economy, or a strong military can compete!’ JK can say what he wants, he’s not apart of USSF, any longer. This is American Exceptionalism at it’s finest! We don’t play countries in our region, unless we deemed them competitive?! CONMEBOL invited the US to participate in ‘19 Copa America, and USSF declined, to focus on the GC. The optics are bad on this. I don’t blame anyone for thinking MB is complaining.

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    • We already play against these teams in World Cup qualifying and the Gold Cup so your comparison to European and Asian WC Qualifying is not an accurate comparison. How many times do we need to play these teams in a 4 year period?

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      • #ReadingFundamentals#ComprehensivelyChallenged☝️ I’m not apart of the USSF. Ross, It’s not about want or need, when it comes to scheduling matches in your region! You play the countries that are in your region. It’s not rocket science, its 5th grade geography. Every region plays smaller countries, that’s as accurate as it gets, my friend. While it’s good that you can read, I need you to step up your comprehension.

    • It’s Ok, you’re an arrogant jerk.

      Your posts are filled with grammatical errors and incomplete sentences (and thoughts). Due to that your posts are barely comprehensible. In your reply you start and end with insults while not answering Ross’ question. I would suggest proof reading your posts prior to posting. Perhaps also running them through a grammar app would be a good idea for you – especially when insulting someone’s comprehension skills.

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  3. Ok, Michael Bradley, you were on the field in Trinidad & Tobago. You were on the field when you and the team played like boys vs CR in NJ.

    You are not above CONCACAF.

    This arrogance is the problem.

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    • This anti-bradley mentality amazes me. Your point has nothing to do with the questioned posed or his answer. What does him being on the field during a loss have to do with the pros or cons of playing lower level opponents? Nothing. Michael Bradly is one of the best ever players for the us. Full stop. You may not like that fact but it is a fact and not an opinion. Same for his dad, Bob.

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    • He also has been on the field for a lot of qualifiers and World Cup games. If he did lousy vs. T&T that has nothing to do with whether or not his opinion is valid. I see this a lot where some poster doesn’t like a player or coach and so doesn’t even consider how valid an opinion may be. The issue is not if whether you like Bradley’s opinions in general or not, but is the Nation’s League valuable. Well, I think playing friendlies against European or South American teams is a lot better than playing Cuba or even Canada. So, yes, this competition is a waste of time for teams like the US and Mexico.

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  4. Cuba is about the worst team the US will play in nations league. Mexico Costa Rica Jamaica Panama on the road will be valuable.

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    • Exactly. This along with that Yahoo article last night show an amazing ignorance about the whole thing.

      Cuba was just an unfortunate draw for the U.S. They qualified for League A on the back of a much stronger team, but have lost many of those players to defection. Same ol’ sad story.

      Canada, on the road in this FIFA window is a perfectly fine challenge for this USMNT team. Quit whining.

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      • Playing in the Copa America Centenario didn’t help him or the team qualify for the World Cup. After getting to the final of the Confederations Cup in 2009 we still were unable to get past the round of 16 in the 2010 World Cup. We have a harder time against the teams in CONCACAF than MB wants to admit. We lose the possession game against the likes of Germany, Brazil, France, etc. but when we play Panama, we control the game and are unable to break teams down. We’d be better off playing against teams that drop everyone behind the ball and force us to break them down.

      • Mexico played Bermuda. Jamaica’s opponents are Aruba and Antigua and Barbuda. It’s a waste of time even for Jamaica. If playing on the road vs. the better teams is valuable, then have those top teams get a bye into a higher round where they play each other. All the preliminaries are often useless. This is all about helping the minnows make some more money.

    • Jamaica did that to themselves not making the Hex last time and then losing in NL qualifying to El Salvador. El Salvador lost to Bermuda. Sub Jamaica and El Salvador and League A’s 3rd seed teams are better. Include Guatemala being suspended for part of this cycle and TNT being quite down. The top 12 in the region would typically be better.

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