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Michael Bradley: not a hint of sagging U.S. confidence

Oct 16, 2012, 3:20 PM EDT

Antigua and Barbuda v United States Getty Images

KANSAS CITY– It’s been crowded lately at the Worry Café, full up with U.S. Soccer supporters. They are painfully concerned about the United States soccer team, and more than a few are not even certain Jurgen Klinsmann’s assembled men will navigate final stage to make the World Cup 2014 field without substantial improvement.

So they would love to leave semifinal qualifying on a full-volley upswing. A commanding win tonight at Livestrong Sporting Park, a.k.a. a good, old-fashioned butt whuppin’, of something like 4-0 or 5-0 would do, I suppose.

That would allow the players, coaches and staff to minimize (or possibly even eliminate) a coming winter of fretful discontent. Final round qualifying begins early next year. So, without the calming balm of said butt whuppin’, there will be ample time for supporters and members of the chattering class (the media, ya know) to pick this thing apart like the last piece of chicken at Sunday family dinner.

Of course, that’s the outsider’s view. The players inside the inner circle may be coming from a different place.

(MORE: Michael Bradley, most indispensable U.S. man)

I asked Michael Bradley yesterday if a dominant win would boost confidence and the general “good feeling” factor within the U.S. camp?

Bradley, one of the truly thoughtful and eloquent spokesmen in the U.S. locker room, had an interesting reply:

We still look at the win the other night as a big win. We are honest enough with ourselves to look at things and say ‘that this needs to be better,’ or say that our response after going up 1-0 needed to be more aggressive, to try to put the game away. But I can assure you that the spirit in the group is really good.

“A quality of a big team is also to be able come away with points, to come away with wins on days when maybe you don’t play your best, when conditions aren’t the most perfect. We take great pride in that as a group. And, as we’ve all said, we’re honest enough with ourselves to know that we need to use these few days in Kansas City to look at things that need to be better as we go forward.

“Everyone is excited to step on the field tomorrow night … and give ourselves another chance to put a great performance together. And a great performance can mean a lot of things.  It can mean, from the first whistle, playing hard and being aggressive, and maybe on that night the goals come quickly, and maybe we win a game where everyone says ‘that looked really nice.’

“A great win can mean being committed as a team for 90 minutes and, even if the goals don’t come as early as we hope, to have the commitment, the personality, the strength to keep playing, keep fighting, and come away with a win toward the end of the game.

“Our mindset is to step on the field tomorrow night and from the first whistle, to be aggressive and impose ourselves from the start. How that pans out, you never know, but we’re excited for that challenge and confident in ourselves.”

  1. soccerjohn - Oct 16, 2012 at 3:31 PM

    Doesn’t it just blow your mind that there have actually been Michael Bradley haters?! This guy is the granite foundation on which you build a competitive WC team. If he stays healthy, I see him as an important contributor to a CL team in years to come. Now, if we can just get Holden healthy and back in form to join him in central midfield..

  2. footballer4ever - Oct 16, 2012 at 7:46 PM

    @ soccerjohn

    (nods). Haters will be haters, but just how the saying goes: “when you have haters it means you are doing something right”. Better to be hated than ignored for sure.
    One thing i would suggest to Bradley is to be more fan “friendly” who can misinterpret his cold ways.

  3. wfjackson3 - Oct 16, 2012 at 9:49 PM

    I have to be honest, I used to be a bit of a Bradley hater. I should say that in my defense, he has grown tremendously as a player since those days, and it is clear that he has a tremendous impact. He definitely has the right mindset though. Gotta love it.

    Sidenote: Steve, quit using parentheses. You are a better writer than that.

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