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Michael Bradley returns, scores, gives U.S. fans relief

Oct 7, 2012, 12:51 PM EDT

AS Roma v Atalanta BC - Serie A Getty Images

It’s his first goal for Roma, but it’s also his first goal as a new father. And for fans of the U.S. Men’s National Team, his mere presence in the Giallorossi XI is a relief.

There are so many tangents to explore off Michael Bradley’s goal on Sunday, you can easily overlook it’s value within the match. At the time, Roma were up 1-0 on visiting Atalanta. Bradley’s put-back of a Mattia Destro shot, messily coughed up by Andrea Consigli, gave Roma a valuable insurance goal.

See for yourself:

An injury had limited Bradley to one league start since moving to Roma this summer. Having missed out on the U.S.’s last two qualifiers, there may have been concern the States’ best midfielder was about to miss the last two, crucial qualifiers of CONCACAF’s semifinal round. While he only went 72 minutes before Zdenek Zemen brought him off, Bradley looks good-to-go for Jurgen Kilnsmann’s next squad.

Given how punchless the U.S. midfield was without Bradley, his availability was always going to be important. With Landon Donovan going down last night, getting Bradley in the team could prove vital. While the U.S. would still be better than Guatemala or Antigua and Barbuda without Bradley and Donovan, in soccer, it doesn’t take much for a lesser team to get a result.

Against Jamaica, we saw what the U.S. was like without Bradley, Donovan and a full-strength Dempsey. They were probably the better team, if only slightly. But that was only good for three points over two games.

The U.S. would still likely get out of the third round without Bradley and Donovan, not that it matters. Thanks to Bradley’s return, that scenario will likely remain a hypothetical.

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