Skip to content

PST USMNT Man of the Match: Michael Bradley

Nov 14, 2012, 12:57 PM EDT

Michael Bradley, Luke Anthony George AP

Michael Bradley’s place at the top of the U.S. Men’s National Team pecking order is becoming undeniable, with Wednesday’s performance in Russia serving as the latest plank in his platform. A 76th minute volley that careened in off Vladimir Gabulov’s right post would have been enough to take Man of the Match honors on a normal night, but on a day when Tim Howard’s seven saves were kept the U.S. afloat, it was Bradley’s command of midfield that allowed the U.S. to transcend being a Russian annoyance to taking a point from a team that’s still perfect in UEFA World Cup qualifying.

So while it was Howard that administered life support, it was Bradley that picked the team up and pushed them to another memorable road result. This wasn’t be as memorable as beating Mexico at Azteca or defeating Italy in Genoa, but scoring twice on the road against a Russian side that has yet to concede in World Cup qualifying should open eyes. Not only was it a great way to end a successful 2012 (the U.S. posting a 9-2-3 record this year), it was a surprising output for a team that’s struggled to convert possession into goals.

Not that the possession led to goals on Wednesday. Instead, it was some retro-long ball that got the U.S. on the board, with Bradley involved in each goal. In the 76th minute, Bradley’s stab at a ball knocked down by Juan Agudelo nailed Gabulov’s post, giving the Anzhi Makhachkala keeper no chance to prevent the equalizer. In stoppage time, a Bradley ball lofted toward Terrence Boyd ended with Mix Diskerud’s more stoppable but equally well-placed goal.

MORE – VIDEO: Another highlight reel goal for Michael Bradley

But particularly with Bradley, the scoresheet can only tell so much. He was the best of a U.S. midfield which, thanks to Danny Williams’ worst showing in the national team shirt, struggled for most of the day. Bradley was the only midfielder that got forward, and while that may have been a product of Jurgen Klinsmann’s plan, Bradley’s ability to cover ground sideline-to-sideline in the left-center role further distinguished his performance. His 47 completed passes were far better than Jones (27) and Williams (25).

Perhaps the most notable thing about Bradley’s say wasn’t something he did individually; rather, it was the team’s performance in the absence of Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan. When Michael Bradley was missing from the men’s national team, the dip in quality was clear despite the U.S.’s depth in central midfield. When Bradley was out of the national team, the States offered nothing going forward from midfield.

MORE: What we learned from Wednesday’s result

Against Russia, with the U.S.’s two most recognizable players not called in, there was no discernable drop off. Tthe U.S. looked their normal selves, and while taht still leaves a lot of room for improvement, it implies that Bradley may be even more important to the team than we’d previously thought.

Latest Posts
  1. PHOTO: British papers rip into Manchester United after League Cup humiliation

    Aug 27, 2014, 12:32 PM EDT

    MK Dons v Manchester United - Capital One Cup Second Round Getty Images

    Following United’s embarrassing 4-0 defeat to a third-tier team, the UK media have not been kind.

  2. $410 million Las Vegas soccer stadium deal closer; next stop, Major League Soccer…

    Aug 27, 2014, 12:01 PM EDT

    Las Vegas

    Soccer in Sin City… why not? Stadium deal gets over next hurdle, hinges on MLS team heading to Nevada.

  3. Report: Arsenal bid $82 million for Edinson Cavani. Remy, Falcao, Welbeck linked

    Aug 27, 2014, 9:42 AM EDT

    Cavani AP

    After Oliver Giroud’s bad injury, will Arsenal spend big to bring in Cavani?

  4. VOTE: Where will Manchester United finish in the Premier League this season?

    Aug 27, 2014, 9:12 AM EDT

    louis_van_gaal AP

    Have your say on where van Gaal’s side will finish this campaign.

  5. Confirmed: Neil Warnock takes over at Crystal Palace; what will he bring?

    Aug 27, 2014, 8:46 AM EDT

    warnock-4361-1879034_478x359

    Eagles swoop to hand former boss his second stint in charge at Selhurst Park.

  6. AC Milan want to sign Chelsea’s Fernando Torres. Should he leave?

    Aug 27, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    fernando_torres Getty Images

    Milan want Torres on season-long loan deal. Will the Spaniard move on?

  7. Report: Neil Warnock to be named new Crystal Palace manager

    Aug 27, 2014, 7:18 AM EDT

    Hull City v Sheffield United - FA Cup Semi-Final Getty Images

    Experienced lower league manager set for second stint in charge of Palace.

  8. CONCACAF Champions League Roundup: New York makes victorious debut

    Aug 27, 2014, 1:02 AM EDT

    concacaf champions league logo

    Red Bulls win their full tournament debut, while Club Améric takes a valuable point on the road.

  9. PST’s Major League Soccer Power Rankings – Whole New World Edition

    Aug 26, 2014, 10:14 PM EDT

    kyle_beckerman_fabian_castillo

    The rankings have had a big four — LA, RSL, Seattle, and Sporting. That group makes way for two new teams at the top of the PRs.

  10. Samuel Eto’o signs two-year deal with Everton

    Aug 26, 2014, 8:20 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 5.16.32 PM

    Three-time Champions League winner adds depth to Roberto Martínez’s attack.

  11. Van Gaal appeals to supporters’ belief after Manchester United’s League Cup loss

    Aug 26, 2014, 7:31 PM EDT

    louis_van_gaal AP

    United boss asks fans to withhold judgment on his team’s disappointing start.

  12. League Cup Roundup: Manchester United embarrassed by Milton Keynes, 4-0

    Aug 26, 2014, 6:04 PM EDT

    jonny_evans Getty Images

    Red Devils hit a new low, with three other Premier League clubs bowing out in the competition’s second round.

  13. UEFA Champions League Roundup: Zenit, Porto through; Celtic sunk by late Maribor goal

    Aug 26, 2014, 5:06 PM EDT

    hulk AP

    BATE Borisov and APOEL Nicosía are also into the group stage, with the five final spots to be decided tomorrow.

  14. Landon Donovan will get U.S. farewell, to be called up to face Ecuador

    Aug 26, 2014, 4:27 PM EDT

    One of Donovan;s finest moments came for the USA at the 2010 World Cup. His last minute goal sent the USMNT through to the last 16. Getty Images

    U.S. Soccer is doing right by its biggest icon. Donovan will be called up for the Oct. 10 game in Connecticut.

  15. PST’s Major League Soccer Player of the Week: New York’s Thierry Henry

    Aug 26, 2014, 4:14 PM EDT

    thierry_henry Getty Images

    For the second time in seven weeks, Thierry Henry takes home our weekly honor.

  16. The danger in Jermaine Jones to New England: perceived league chaos

    Aug 26, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

    Bv7WpAlIMAER8e9

    Why the Jones to New England move would’ve been a whole lot better with a little more transparency. Or a lot more transparency, if you like.

  17. Jermaine Jones unveiled in New England, quips that “I like to win”

    Aug 26, 2014, 2:44 PM EDT

    Bv_Aa5AIcAEBfhI

    New England got a whole lot better on Tuesday, and the Revs new Designated Player will immediately cause opposition problems in MLS.

  18. Official: Manchester United breaks transfer record, signs Di Maria

    Aug 26, 2014, 1:58 PM EDT

    Bv-8S8vCcAAWAVe

    Angel Di Maria has cost Manchester United a British transfer record of more than $98 million from Real Madrid.

  19. Fantasyland: Week Two leaders, three names to monitor

    Aug 26, 2014, 1:12 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    There’s still time to join up for a year of Fantasy Premier League fun via Yahoo’s free game, but don’t wait too much longer: the points are getting racked up!

Featured video

Balotelli will boost Suarez-less Liverpool