In an interview with Slate, former U.S. men’s national team coach Bob Bradley reveals that his son, Michael, had wanted to join Arsenal during the January transfer window, but that the Gunners instead preferred to sign Sweden international Kim Kallstrom. Bradley points to this as an example of American players not getting the international respect they deserve.
“I think American players and coaches have to fight really hard for respect,” the former USA coach said. “In January, Arsenal [was] looking to add a midfielder, and they chose Kim Källström. Kim Källström’s not a bad player, but I think Michael feels pretty strongly that he’s better, and so [Gunners coach] Arsène Wenger must not feel that way, and [Arsenal’s American CEO] Ivan Gazidis must not feel that way. So sometimes, no matter what you do, you don’t get the respect you think you deserve.”
In the end, Michael came back to North America, signing with Toronto FC in MLS, which he says was more a matter of opportunity than wanting to compete at the highest level. The Slate report also points to older interviews with American internationals Bradley and Landon Donovan, who seemed to be saying that it’s not that the American players don’t belong in top competitions like the UEFA Champions League, it’s that they are denied opportunities because of their nationality. Which is hard prove.