The Michael Bradley thread

Discussion in 'USA Men: News & Analysis' started by ttrevett, Jun 11, 2015.

  1. ttrevett

    ttrevett Member+

    Apr 2, 2002
    Atlanta, GA
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    How we don't have a thread dedicated to the midfield general currently seems a bit odd, so I decided to start one. Many people questioned him and his ability last summer, as well as previously, but judging by how he has shined recently against some of the best talent in the world, one would have to say that when healthy, he might be one of our best ever.

    His passing, his composure and ability to dribble out of danger is unrivaled in our pool. His midfield command and motor/fitness is second to none. You can't say enough about his leadership and professionalism.

    I understood previously why JK made Clint the captain, but I can't see how we could take it back from MB after these displays. Not that it is a huge deal, but MB embodies exactly what I would want to see in a captain, and is the example that all of our players should strive to become.

    I hate to sound all rah rah about the whole thing, but it has just become painfully obvious that we're watching something special develop.

    However you feel about ths subject, the guy deserves to have his own personal thread on the N and A. Feel free to merge if there is already a dedicated thread but I couldn't find it.
     
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  2. um_chili

    um_chili Member+

    Jun 3, 2002
    Losanjealous
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    The current outpouring of love for Mike, while justified, is an interesting instance of how players fluctuate over the course of a career (causing fans' opinion to oscillate wildly as well). During the Bob Bradley tenure as MNT coach, Mike suffered from the shadow of the coach's son charge. This was true--he was the coach's son, obviously--but this fact provided an easy cover for haters or honest-minded critics that complicated his story and made it harder just to judge him on the merits.

    Still, by 2009/10 it was getting pretty tough to argue that he wasn't one of our best up and coming players. He had the brace that gave us dos a cero '09, and was a m0therfcuker throughout 2010, scoring one of the most important WC goals by drawing us level with Slovenia. The move to Roma didn't turn out, and then he got injured later in 2013, which had the unfortunate effect of his being on uncharacteristically bad form in the 2014 WC. A lot of casual and/or recent soccer fans' major impression of him is based on last WC, which is unfortunate because it was such a non-representative example of his contributions to the team. Kind of reminds me a little of Agoos '02--a great veteran who just had a putrescent WC, which tended to dominate the dialogue about him (though Agoos' WC was much worse than Bradley's '14 WC, and Agoos retired soon after, while Bradley's obviously made a big comeback).

    This is all by way of saying that Mike's recent form is awesome, but not exactly new. I think it seems like more of a revelation because he's coming off a weak year-plus, including a visibly bad WC performance. Then again, I think his form as showcased by the two recent games (which we don't want to weight too heavily since they were only friendlies) is still noticeably sharper even than it was when he was reaching his earlier peak a few years ago pre-2013 injury. So I agree with the general praise and the OP's comment that we may be witnessing something special (though we should wait til the Gold Cup concludes before finalizing that verdict). I only want to add that we not forget all the excellence that Mike brought to this team in prior years before his current renaissance.
     
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  3. MarioKempes

    MarioKempes Member+

    Real Madrid, DC United
    Aug 3, 2000
    Raleigh, NC
    Club:
    Real Madrid
    Bradley is obviously one of our best players. That's beyond question. Having said that, he's not a world class player, he's not a great player -- he's a good, solid midfielder. If he was great, he would have been starting at Roma. I realize he left Roma to earn 3x as much at Toronto. Good move financially. But if we're honest, we'd say that if he were a starting midfielder at Roma, then he would have earned more, the pay gap would have been small, and probably would have stayed there. Although he ran his tail off, he had a mediocre WC. He plays as a hybrid attacking/defensive midfielder, so that makes things extra difficult for him.

    So what's wrong with Bradley? He runs a lot, perhaps too much. He needs to let the ball do more of the work and he needs to have a quicker release. He takes too many touches, his ball control is sometimes less than required, and he doesn't always see the open man in a goal scoring opportunity. In short he needs to become a more effective player.
     
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  4. FLSoccerGran

    FLSoccerGran BigSoccer Supporter

    Feb 2, 2005
    Poinciana, FL
    Club:
    Orlando City SC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Glad to see this thread! I have thought for some time Michael was our best player, and he certainly deserves his due!
     
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  5. cleansheetbsc

    cleansheetbsc Member+

    Mar 17, 2004
    Club:
    --other--
    FFS. This one will get ugly.
    [​IMG]
     
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  6. nobody

    nobody Member+

    Jun 20, 2000
    He had a poor World Cup and I've been up and down on him over the years, but he just played 2 very good games in a row against top level competition. If he keeps playing better than ever over the course of this cycle, maybe we could take a closer look at the benefits of being a role player in Europe versus being a key player in MLS. I think the confidence of being a team leader and the benefits of being your team's go to guy can have an effect on a player's mentality as opposed to being a role player, even on a very top team. Of course, before I'd say this is taking effect in Bradley, I want a few more good games over time.

    I think one of the issues he has at the very top levels is he is a bit of a tricky player to integrate into a midfield. He's not a guy with flashy, silky ball skills so people want to push him back from the front. But, if you put him as a defensive midfielder, he lacks the positional discipline and the team suffers from gaps in dangerous areas. He is absolutely a solid all-arounder though. He works hard and can tackle, he can make a quality final pass and he attacks well from deep positions. If the supporting cast around him allows him some freedom he can make things happen. But, it's not very many players at all who get that sort of accommodation on big teams.

    I think Klinsmann is mostly getting this right by having at least one defensive minded midfielder behind him and no central playmaker in front of him, relying on the outside mids to provide help as additional playmakers. It gives Bradley the freedom to attack from deep, the freedom to tackle aggressively and the ability to spend a lot of time on the ball since he covers so much ground. I think those who say Bradley isn't a #10 are correct. But I also don't think Klinsmann is really playing him as a #10 just because we don't have a central mid pushed further forward. I think we can go ahead and accept that we don't really field a dedicated #10 and Bradley is one of multiple midfielders who will provide some playmaking while also working in deeper positions.
     
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  7. Stan Collins

    Stan Collins Member+

    Feb 26, 1999
    Silver Spring, MD
    I think if that second paragraph is true, then Roma was 'wrong' in some sense. What you're talking about is really mental, something that over time is being coached out of him. Bradley grew up wanting to be a 6 (or maybe if you will an 8, but one who really focused his efforts on defense), but with some patience his coaches have been able to show him that he has abilities (if only he has the confidence in them) that call for a more advanced, proactive role. Now, in some sense, he's had to do this more than once, as he's fallen back on his instincts a couple of times as he's gone up in level of play. Roma may have given up too early (or maybe Bradley did), but I don't think it unlikely that he could have measured up to the level of play given the time.
     
  8. USA2010?

    USA2010? Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Regarding the WC, Bradley had been dealing with a foot injury from when he twisted his ankle before the Costa Rica game. He finally had surgery on his foot in the fall of 2014. In addition, he was played out of his best position because we had few good options. Actually, he played as the #10 because he was the best option at that spot, even though that is not his best position. Other than the injury and position issue....

    What we saw in these last two games, plus a few before that, was Bradley playing in his favorite/best role - box-to-box midfielder. He doesn't get forced up too much to chase the opponent's back four, but he's not just in front of our back four. In this role, almost all of the play goes through him, he has chances to make deep runs, but most importantly, he can control the tempo of the game and change our angle of attack.

    Finally, what I've noticed in these last few games is that instead of "just passing" the ball, he is willing to take a few dribbles (when the opportunity suits) to get by a player or two. What this does is turn the situation from a 5v5 to a 5v3 and opens up space for the rest of our attack. I think this has been the biggest improvement I've seen from his past performances. I mean, I'm not knocking his ability to chance the angle of attack, control the pace of game...because we've seen this before from him.
     
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  9. Bajoro

    Bajoro Member+

    Sep 10, 2000
    The Inland Empire
    Club:
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    When he bossed Italy in that friendly a couple of years back, it erased any doubt that he's one of the best all-around players ever to wear to badge. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
     
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  10. Bajoro

    Bajoro Member+

    Sep 10, 2000
    The Inland Empire
    Club:
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    This from Matthew Doyle at MLSsoccer.com


    This is my mantra: The most important thing you can do as a soccer coach is to play your best player in his best spot. Then build from there.

    It's no longer debateable that Michael Bradley is the best USMNT player, not after he ran both the Netherlands and Germany to death over the past five days. And it's no longer debateable what his best spot is.

    He is a box-to-box central midfielder with primary distributive and creative duties. This is the spot he played in the second half against Slovenia way back in the 2010 World Cup, with Mo Edu playing as a true No. 6 behind him. This is the spot he played in the run-up to last year's World Cup, and this is the spot he's played each of the last two games out.

    Against Holland it was a 4-3-3, and against Germany it was a 4-1-3-2, and while I do think the formation matters – I'm partial to the 4-1-3-2 – what matters more is putting your best players in the spots where they have the best chance at success, and then building around that. In Brazil, Jurgen Klinsmann went against that formula, pushing Bradley into an advanced role with only one attacking target to pick out.

    This year, the US are giving him multiple runners and are being rewarded with multiple goals.

    Klinsmann has hit upon that right mix, and I've convinced myself he'll stick with it following Wednesday's 2-1 win over Germany in Cologne.​
     
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  11. roxbury

    roxbury Member+

    Apr 27, 2004
    Would love to see him at Galatasaray <They will be at the Champions League Group Stage too. ;)

    Regards,
     
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  12. russ

    russ Member+

    Feb 26, 1999
    Canton,NY
    Club:
    Liverpool FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    It always seems to.
     
  13. jscupa

    jscupa New Member

    May 30, 2012
    Club:
    AC Ancona
    Why is it that everyone ignores that Bradley had foot surgery before the world cup? It obviously had an effect on him and he's finally healthy and back on form.

    People forget that the Mexican manager said bradley looked like one of the best players in the world when we played them right before his surgery as well.
     
  14. Martin Fischer

    Martin Fischer Member+

    Feb 23, 1999
    Kampala. Uganda
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Bradley's "poor" play in the WC finals was mostly BS hype. He wasn't at his best but the amount of ground covered and his passing statistics were still good compared to his colleagues, including Jermaine Jones. Missed some passes when there were opportunities to create something, but he did that this week too. And he created Green's goal against Belgium. The whole "crisis" was manufactured by those who are pushing the agenda for more USMNT to be in Europe.
     
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  15. IndividualEleven

    Mar 16, 2006
    MB is a world class player. His not fitting the twin amid roles in Roma's system, doesn't negate this. He was actually excellent in the 6 role, but wasn't going to start over DeRossi.

    His primary and secondary assist totals, over the past 18 months have been incredible. He has found his niche as an 8/10 style player.
     
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  16. juveeer

    juveeer Member+

    Aug 3, 2006
    He left Roma cause they brought in Garcia who wanted to playa different way and with different style players.
     
  17. ttrevett

    ttrevett Member+

    Apr 2, 2002
    Atlanta, GA
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    This is one of the reasons I started the thread. I don't agree that we manufactured the whole "crisis" thing. I wish they had been more transparent during the WC, or had come out and pointedly said he was carrying some form of injury after the WC. (I think his management team, if he has one, failed him in this regard) He was not anywhere near his best in Brasil. The difference that we see from his play now to his play in the world cup (while interestingly not the pre-WC friendlies) must have been down to some form of injury. What we are seeing right now is Michael at his absolute prime. I disagree with some above who have said he doesn't have the silkiness on the ball. I have seen him dribble around some of the best players in the world lately. I'll agree that he does run a bit too much with the ball, and will also say that he REALLY needs to stop hitting the GK from point blank range (Portugal, Germany).

    I think we are seeing a guy right now who could wear the shirt of any club team not named Barca, Real Madrid or Bayern Munich. I know that's a bold statement, but IMO right now he is that good.
     
  18. MarioKempes

    MarioKempes Member+

    Real Madrid, DC United
    Aug 3, 2000
    Raleigh, NC
    Club:
    Real Madrid
    A big part of it is mental, yes. Some of it is technique. Sometimes it takes Michael 3 touches to do something that world class players do in 1 touch. It's a high standard to meet. There are only a few Messis, Pirlos, Iniestas, and Luka Modrics. The kind of field vision that the great midfielders have is partly something they are born with, but certainly some of it can be developed. At 27, however, it's unlikely that Bradley will get much better, but we can hope.
     
  19. IndividualEleven

    Mar 16, 2006
    If a player's numbers are world class then he's probably world class regardless how many touches it supposedly takes him to do x,y,z.
     
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  20. areathrasher

    areathrasher Member

    Mar 26, 2014
    Toronto
    Club:
    Toronto FC
    Nat'l Team:
    Ireland Republic
    Word on the street here in Toronto is that he was playing with nerve damage in one of his feet all last year.

    He also had a follow up surgery in the off season that seems to have done the trick.
     
  21. ttrevett

    ttrevett Member+

    Apr 2, 2002
    Atlanta, GA
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    The one thing that seems a bit incongruous about Bradley in terms of his professionalism and fire in his gut, was the decision he made to play in MLS at this point in his career. I'm not saying anything about the quality of MLS, but as I said above, the guy could have played anywhere IMO at the level he's playing right now, including a fair number of CL level teams. Now, he is locked into spending the rest of his prime with MLS. No way someone is going to spend the dollars it would take in either transfer money or salary to tempt him back to Europe (although they should). He's put all of his eggs in the MLS basket, and we will all be thankful for that in the future as it will ultimately be helpful to the league in years to come, but I also think he will regret not being part of European football as a player. He will never be tested at the club level the way he was at places like Roma and Gladbach. With his ambition, I just don't really get that move.
     
  22. 6 ft. Leprechaun

    Dec 9, 2003
    Baltimore, MD
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States

    Ambition is one thing. However, Bradley is an athlete with a limited time to earn money. He also now has a family to provide for and take care of for the future. He was given a really good opportunity to bank a whole bunch of money. Most people with good sense would've jumped on that, just like Bradley did.
     
  23. backpackpenguin

    Jul 8, 2007
    New York, NY
    Yeah, I find it totally understandable that a 26-year-old with an infant child and another on the way would rather take an extra couple million a year to settle down in a country that speaks his wife's native language on a club where he has a guaranteed starting role, rather than bounce around Europe to try to get on a Champions League club.
     
  24. GiallorossiYank

    GiallorossiYank Member+

    Jan 20, 2011
    NJ/Roma/Napoli
    Club:
    AS Roma
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I wish Mikey would have stayed at Roma. He's fricken good enough, and has only gotten better these last two years with making the 40 yard runs with the ball.

    Glad he's come around. However as a few have said the criticisms (injury or not) were justified
     
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  25. stonej16

    stonej16 Red Card

    May 7, 2015
    USA
    Club:
    Tottenham Hotspur FC
    #25 stonej16, Jun 12, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2015
    I don't know when Bradley decided he was going to start beating 2 and 3 people off the dribble, but he did it against both Holland and Germany, and it was really nice to see.

    http://streamable.com/l93v

     
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