Skip to content

New partner, no problem: Michael Bradley didn’t miss a beat against Panama

Jun 12, 2013, 7:26 PM EDT

FBL-WC2014-QUALIFIERS-USA-TRAINING

SEATTLE — By full time, the Seattle crowd was the big story, but during most of the match, the man who has slowly gained consensus as the U.S.’s best player put on another show, on that he did without his usually partner in crime. Without Jermaine Jones beside him in midfield, Michael Bradley didn’t miss a beat. And arguably, he raised his game in the absence.

Jones was out of Tuesday’s match, recovering from a concussion. Geoff Cameron stepped in admirably, dominating the space in front of Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler, but with more limited responsibilities than Jones is asked to take on, Cameron was a distinctly different kind of partner.

“We asked him to win a lot of balls back, cover the two center backs, and have a strong presence in there,” was Jurgen Klinsmann’s description of Cameron’s destroyer role. “I said once you get that ball just keep it simple. Kind Michael Bradley. Find Clint (Dempsey). Find the players around him, and  cover our two center backs.”

That meant the push would have to come from Bradley, something we saw on the U.S.’s first goal. Cameron’s win-and-give directive sprung Bradley in the 36th minute, the 25-year-old surging through the Panamanian midfield and collapsing the Canaleros defense before playing wide to Fabian Johnson, who had all the space and time he needed to hit a perfect cross to Jozy Altidore.

Even before the goal, Bradley’s impact was huge, dropping back into defense to pick up the ball and orchestrate the U.S.’s very deliberate plan. When Eddie Johnson starts in midfield, the U.S. is almost always going to have an advantage when the Sounder target man attacks the far post. With DaMarcus Beasley releasing early from his left back position, the U.S. wanted to build down the left before playing to Johnson and Jozy Altidore. It was Bradley’s job to orchestrate that.

source:  Of the 46 passes Bradley attempted in the first half (pictured), only nine went from left-to-right in the right side of the field. The remaining 38 were either already on the left or moved the ball in that direction (or straight forward). Many went to Besler, as Bradley sought to steer play across the back. There were some long diagonals toward the byline for Beasley. A series of other balls were just the small plays you’d expect from a midfielder who was trying to build box-to-box.

For the day, Bradley completed 78 of the 87 passes he attempted. Cameron was 47 for 56, but with the disparity in attempts, you can see the command Bradley had of the U.S.’s passing game.

“As a midfielder, you’re constantly trying to read the game,” Bradley explained, asked about the adjustments he made in Jones’ absence. “You’re constantly trying to find space. You’re trying to find the spots on the field where you can make an impact. And at times that’s going to be defensively. At times it’s going to be attacking-wise.

“Sure, when you’re playing with Geoff, the situations that you find yourself in are going to be different. There’s going to be the opportunity to be a little bit more mobile at times, to be a little bit more two-way, to find the opportunities to move forward into the attack. I think that understanding was good tonight.”

Good might be an understatement. Cameron’s simplified role may the understanding easier, but Bradley still had to execute. Stepping up in Jones’s absence and triggering the U.S.’s opening goal, Bradley’s execution helped push his team to the top of CONCACAF qualifying.

Latest Posts
  1. Done Deal: Transfer activity roundup

    Aug 31, 2014, 10:57 PM EDT

    Cerezo Osaka v Manchester United Getty Images

    Roundup of football transfers across Europe today.

  2. Ancelotti: Real Madrid’s ‘attitude and concentration’ must change

    Aug 31, 2014, 9:55 PM EDT

    FBL-EUR-C1-PSG-PRESSER

    Real Madrid manager insisted that his squad just lost focus on Sunday when they were upset by Real Sociedad.

  3. Darren Fletcher ‘confident’ Manchester United will trump struggles

    Aug 31, 2014, 8:24 PM EDT

    Manchester United v Galatasaray - UEFA Champions League Getty Images

    Darren Fletcher isn’t perturbed by Manchester United’s super-early season struggles.

  4. Toronto FC confirms Jermain Defoe transfer talks have taken place

    Aug 31, 2014, 6:58 PM EDT

    Toronto FC's Jermain Defoe scores from the penalty spot against San Jose Earthquakes during first half MLS action in Toronto on Saturday June 7, 2014. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young) AP

    Jermain Defoe has been linked away from Toronto FC, with a possible return back to England.

  5. HIGHLIGHTS: Real Madrid falls to Real Sociedad in remarkable comeback

    Aug 31, 2014, 6:18 PM EDT

    _77293433_hi023702086 Getty Images

    Real Madrid didn’t display their standard victorious level of play as Real Sociedad shocked Carlo Ancelotti’s side.

  6. MLS Snapshot: D.C. United 2-0 New York Red Bulls

    Aug 31, 2014, 5:22 PM EDT

    DC United v New York Red Bulls Getty Images

    D.C. United keeps strong at the head of the Eastern Conference, defeating the New York Red Bulls, 2-0.

  7. Geoff Cameron removes himself from U.S. national team roster

    Aug 31, 2014, 3:38 PM EDT

    Geoff Cameron AP

    Geoff Cameron has withdrawn from the United States’ latest roster prepped for the Czech Republic match.

  8. Watch Live: DC United vs. New York Red Bulls (Lineups)

    Aug 31, 2014, 2:53 PM EDT

    RedBulls AP

    DC United hopes to fend off Bradley Wright-Phillips and company in the Atlantic Cup.

  9. Reports suggest Arsenal unlikely to sign a replacement striker for Giroud

    Aug 31, 2014, 2:10 PM EDT

    Sanogo Getty Images

    Despite Yaya Sanogo’s disappointing performance against Leicester City, Wenger may sit on his squad.

  10. Reports: “Chicharito” Hernandez close to loan at Real Madrid

    Aug 31, 2014, 1:33 PM EDT

    Hernandez Getty Images

    After spending a career on the bench at Manchester United, he’s going to another club where he’ll likely be a backup.

  11. Leicester City 1-1 Arsenal: Home side holds strong for draw

    Aug 31, 2014, 12:57 PM EDT

    Leicester Getty Images

    Leo Ulloa hit back at Arsenal’s early goal and Leicester held on strong against a tired and wasteful Arsenal.

  12. Judging by his debut, Brendan Rodgers has broken through Mario Balotelli’s mental block

    Aug 31, 2014, 12:23 PM EDT

    BalotelliRodgers Getty Images

    It appears the usually erratic, angry, and impulsive Mario Balotelli is nowhere to be found, and the Liverpool manager is to thank.

  13. Done deal: Chelsea sign Loic Remy from QPR

    Aug 31, 2014, 11:33 AM EDT

    Picture credit: Squawka Picture credit: Squawka

    With Torres, Lukaku, and Ba all gone and Costa proving injury prone, Remy comes in as cover at Stamford Bridge.

  14. Watch Live: Leicester City vs. Arsenal (Lineups)

    Aug 31, 2014, 10:45 AM EDT

    Sanogo AP

    Yaya Sanogo starts up front in place of the injured Olivier Giroud. Esteban Cambiasso is on the bench for Leicester.

  15. Aston Villa 2-1 Hull City: Swarming start, shaky finish leave Villa undefeated still

    Aug 31, 2014, 10:33 AM EDT

    VillaHull Getty Images

    Aston Villa were bright nearly the whole match but struggled to fend off Hull late in a close victory.

  16. Tottenham 0-3 Liverpool: Familiar scenes as Reds storm Spurs in London

    Aug 31, 2014, 10:22 AM EDT

    Liverpool Getty Images

    Raheem Sterling and Steven Gerrard both scored as Liverpool rocked Spurs yet again in London.

  17. Reports: Alessio Cerci to Atletico Madrid is nearing completion

    Aug 31, 2014, 9:53 AM EDT

    Cerci Getty Images

    Torino continues to sell off last year’s successful attack force for a big profit.

Featured video

Week 3: Saturday Premier League recap