June 26, 2011 by staff
Confederations Cup, Since his debut with the national team U.S. men in May 2006, Michael Bradley has played in 58 games at international level. Bradley has participated in numerous major stages friendlies, World Cup qualifying, the Gold Cup and Confederations Cup matches and World Cup matches.
However, when Bradley steps in the field at the Rose Bowl tonight against Mexico, he will do something never done before and something he’s eager to do: play one international final.
Having been a big part of the U.S. teams that runs on the purpose of the 2007 Gold Cup and 2009 Confederations Cup final, Bradley lost in the championship game due to yellow card accumulation. That is not the case this time, and something that will benefit Americans nearly as much as will satisfy the hunger for Bradley to play a final.
“Yes, without doubt,” Bradley said when asked if he is looking forward to the game a bit more than most of his teammates. “I’ve said a few times now, finally, that do not happen every day. Maybe in your career if you’re lucky, you have the opportunity to play in a pair.
“Obviously I lost two, but now the opportunity to step on the field a great opportunity with a trophy at stake, and something I’m really looking forward to.”
Bradley has enjoyed a very strong Gold Cup, as it has been an imposing defensive will and a strong link between the offense and defense. But, as was the case for much of his time with Team USA, Bradley still has a collection of skeptics and critics. It has allowed the best of him, however, as he continually does its job and shows that more often than not he is an asset to the team.
His teammates know that, too.
“Michael, for example a young boy who is so experienced,” said Tim Howard. “It was bad luck (not to play in the final). The big parties will not stage plays like a veteran. As hard, inflexible players go, will head the list (the final).”
Bradley hardness and toughness is needed along with Jermaine Jones, who also brings a certain attitude towards it, in the heart of midfield USA. The two midfielders have a big task at hand against Mexico, they need to help Hernandez Chicharito hinder Javier and Giovani Dos Santos at the same time doing enough offense to keep their midfield counterparts, Gerardo Torrado and Israel Castro, honest.
“In big games a lot of times you can win the midfield goes a long way,” said Bradley. “In the tournament so far have done a good job of that, pressuring the other team and really making it difficult for them in midfield.
“(In the final) will be even more important that you can set the tone, winning the battles there and really make you feel that things will not come easy.”
It is rare for the U.S. to do more things easy for its archrival Mexico, and Bradley in the lineup for his first final on Saturday is a good chance of the midfield battle will be as hard as ever,
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