Michael Bradley: 'My best years are still in front of me'

Michael Bradley is only 31, but he has been around the U.S. men's national team for so long he was on the team with his new boss, Gregg Berhalter, for the pre-World Cup 2006 camp.

Bradley was 18, just starting out his European career at Heerenveen in the Netherlands. Berhalter was a veteran, in his 12th year in Europe.

Bradley, an extra brought into camp by Bruce Arena to gain experience, came on as a sub for his first two caps. Berhalter was called into camp and went to his second World Cup after Cory Gibbs was hurt, forcing him out of the World Cup in Germany.

Bradley, the oldest player in the U.S. men's national team camp that opened Monday in Chula Vista, California, says he doesn't know Berhalter well but there's respect between the two of them from that experience in 2006 and crossing paths the last five years in MLS, Bradley at Toronto FC and Berhalter the coach at Columbus.

"What I would say is Gregg is into it," Bradley said after the first practice on Monday. "Gregg loves football. He has real ideas about how he wants to work, how he wants his team to play. There's details, there's a plan, ideas, how he wants the team to play, what he wants things to look like. There's going to be real work every day, building what we want this thing to look like."

Berhalter is the fifth coach Bradley has played for on the national team after Arena (twice), his father Bob, Jurgen Klinsmann and interim coach Dave Sarachan for two games in 2018.

"It's life," Bradley said of playing under a new coach. "It's how football works. Whenever a new coach comes in, that coach has a chance to work in whatever way he wants, to choose the players, to get the team to play how he wants, however he wants to set the tone on a given day, and it's down the players to come in with an open mind, to be excited, to be ready, to give everything for each other, but also for the new coach, for the new staff to show what you can add to the whole thing. In that regard, this initial part with Gregg is exciting for all of us."

Bradley has more caps -- 142 -- than the 27 other players in camp combined.

"I don't count caps as I am going," he said. "I enjoy every opportunity to play for the national team. It has given me some of the proudest days of my career. I love representing my country. Every opportunity I have to play, to compete, to make the team better, to try to lead, that's what I love to do."

Bradley will be 35 when the next World Cup is played in late 2022 in Qatar and wants to play in what would be a third World Cup for him after playing every minute in all eight U.S. games at the 2010 and 2014 tournaments.

"If you ask me right now, absolutely," he said. "I wouldn't be here if I didn't want to. I love to play, I love to train, the way I take care of myself, the way I live my life, my best years are still in front of me. That's my mentality every day. Obviously, there's no guarantees in football. And even if there were, I wouldn't want them. Gregg and I have spoken a few times, and one of our first conversations was just that. There are no guarantees, but we're not shutting any doors. We take every day, every training, every game as it comes. You enjoy it, you play, you compete. You take it as far as it goes."

Photo: Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire

23 comments about "Michael Bradley: 'My best years are still in front of me'".
  1. beautiful game, January 8, 2019 at 7:46 a.m.

    Bradley is kidding himself; brings little to the table.

  2. Wooden Ships replied, January 8, 2019 at 11:35 a.m.

    He wouldn’t be on my roster.

  3. James Mcalister, January 8, 2019 at 1:35 p.m.

    He can teach the younger players about international football. He has an excellent knowledge base of the player who we will compete against in the region. He has been a good servant to the national team.

  4. Kent James, January 8, 2019 at 2:09 p.m.

    I think as long as his fitness holds (and I don't see any reason it wouldn't; he's never relied on pure speed, which is where I think most aging players show their age first), he should be in the picture.  He'll never take over a game, but he provides a lot of glue to a team, and his experience and attitude should be helpful going forward. While I think the younger generation has a lot of talent, I think it's good for the team to have a mix.  

  5. beautiful game replied, January 8, 2019 at 8:23 p.m.

    Kent...IMHO, your opinion that Bradley is a glue to the team beckons to ask whether you've been intoxicated by his performances for the past several years.

  6. Bob Ashpole replied, January 8, 2019 at 10:10 p.m.

    BG, that is the wrong question. The question who is a better deep lying CM. Call him DM, 6 or whatever. The position is the glue that holds a team together attacking and defending. That why some call it the "pivot". If we can find 2 people better at the position than Bradley is, then he likely won't be on the roster. It is that simple. I have not, however, seen anyone better than Bradley yet. Most of the time he is in a good position, which is more than I can say about some others.

    I would be happy to discuss this further, but I think the lack of depth at the position is obvious. Most of the dissatisfaction with players during the JK period occurred when JK was playing No. 6 players out of position. I remember him playing Bradley as a CAM. I remember him playing Jermaine Jones on the left side as a winghalf. Also in soccer good players make their teammates look good and bad ones make their teammates look bad. It takes 2 players to make a successful pass. 

  7. R2 Dad, January 8, 2019 at 2:34 p.m.

    This is the clickiest of click-bait, PK....oooh, I've been triggered...where is my safe space? Don't make me read it!  Arrrggh, I can't help myself.....I see your Michael Bradley microaggression and raise you a Klinsmann MLS rant.  Aieeee! Call in the Black Bloc, Professor Click! I need me some Anarchists muscle to fix this because there are some words here I don't like!

  8. frank schoon replied, January 8, 2019 at 5:06 p.m.


  9. Ginger Peeler, January 8, 2019 at 2:39 p.m.

    And don’t forget that he’s been chosen as team captain many times by different coaches for different teams. He will provide a steadying presence and the wisdom of experience for some of our newer, younger players. While I don’t expect to see him playing in the next World Cup, he could end up playing professionally into his 40s, as Preki did. 

  10. frank schoon replied, January 8, 2019 at 5:08 p.m.

    He couldn't shine Preki's shoes....

  11. Ginger Peeler, January 8, 2019 at 2:57 p.m.

    R2...I’m not sure the guys who write the columns are the ones who determine the headlines. You could be blaming Paul for something that was determined by someone else on the SoccerAmerica staff. Like someone who assembles the “pages”. You may well be blaming the wrong person. 

  12. Inter 76, January 8, 2019 at 2:58 p.m.

    I’m far from an expert but I just don’t see him helping except his age. He always seems to just wander around and lost out there. Sometimes up and most of the time back and not making a lot of good passes. Plus his lack of speed makes him have to foul or the faster forwards just blow by him. Eight years ago he played well but now the game has progressed ahead of him. 

  13. frank schoon replied, January 8, 2019 at 5:09 p.m.

    When  we talk of speed, it is not of running which you are referring to but instead he lacks speed of ball movement

  14. Bob Ashpole replied, January 8, 2019 at 10:25 p.m.

    Good try, but Copple was clearly talking about man marking not attacking play. I have seen only one 6 that has the potential to replace Bradley, but it isn't Will Trap. It is Danny Williams, but he is 29 and really hasn't been used much so I haven't seen him enough. Hopefully some of the young upcoming players will be future 6's on the senior team. But none of them are playing 1st division yet like Williams is. Experience is really important for a 6. 

  15. frank schoon replied, January 9, 2019 at 7:05 a.m.

    Bob, In MB’s case, you don’t have him on the field for his man-marking abilities, just like Guardiola,  who wasn’t employed for man-markingbut for their zonal and positional sense, which takes more brains.

  16. Bob Ashpole replied, January 9, 2019 at 7:47 a.m.

    I agree of course, but then where do we find our "Guardiolas"? Spain (Barca really) has had some great midfields--yes?

  17. frank schoon replied, January 9, 2019 at 11:19 a.m.

    Bob, I'm certainly not comparing MB to Guardiola, but only in the sense of the role he plays in that position and what you expect of him. You have him there for some creativeness on the ball, for ball distribution,meaning the more creative the player place the less of a defender he is, you can't be both. You don't need him to have good man to man capabilities for you have two centerbacks behind him whose job it is cover the lesser defensive abilities of MB
    Yes, Barca has some good midfielders, which made their defense look good because they don't lose the ball, a la Iniesta, Xavi, Busquets. 

  18. Bob Ashpole replied, January 9, 2019 at 9:21 p.m.

    This is what I understood you to mean, Frank. I agree with you, of course.

  19. beautiful game, January 9, 2019 at 1:24 p.m.

    I've seen Bradley play since he was 18...talented, but someone who never achieved the level of a Schelotto et al.

  20. humble 1, January 10, 2019 at 10:06 a.m.

    You are only as good as your last game.  Famous sports quote.  We all know, sometimes big names get a pass.  If judged on his play for USA men in 2018 WC Qualification and Toronto last season - he would not get a spot - so it must be the name.  All depends on who comes up to challenge him.  The proving grounds for his replacement should be Olympics - which we did not qualify for last two rounds.  If we fail again - watch for him in 2022.  Watching Bradley is a lot like watching Lovren and Mignolet play together for Liverpool - good players - world class almost - but for the certainly to have their 'moment'.

  21. R2 Dad replied, January 11, 2019 at 1:37 p.m.

    The logical player to challenge for that position is McKennie, but that would mean MB sits and USSF can't have that. So McKennie plays further up the pitch (not his natural position). Too bad USSF doesn't value playing through the midfield--that's the only reason a MB is allowed to loiter on the roster for so long, backpassing our way to victory.

  22. frank schoon replied, January 11, 2019 at 1:38 p.m.

    I guess we'll have to wait and see the team finally settles down and begins to play, so we can see where the weaknesses lie

  23. Bob Ashpole replied, January 11, 2019 at 10:25 p.m.

    R2 Dad, I checked out McKennie and he has come a long way in a short time. I was very impressed. I am not sure why you think McKennie is not a good selection as an 8. He is only 20. I would be looking for a way to play McKennie and Bradley both. There actually is several of ways to do that without running 2 DMs. But in any case having Bradley in camp with McKennie is a very smart move. I remember McKennie, but I don't remember what his ball skills are like. If I recall correctly he defended well.

    Do we have anyone else starting regularly for a first division team?

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