May 30, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT
When it comes down to it, the USA are really relying on one player this summer in Brazil: Michael Bradley. The former AS Roma star has shone in Major League Soccer since arriving in a big money deal to Toronto this season. That came as no surprise as Bradley’s been the leading light on the USMNT for quite some time. His distribution from midfield is flawless, his legs in the engine room are indomitable and his hunger to succeed is undying. Bradley is the heart and soul of the U.S. team. At the age of 26 he already has one World Cup finals appearance under his belt and is one of the experienced core. A future USMNT captain for sure, Bradley must deliver three monumental displays if the Americans are to make it out of Group G. No pressure. Michael. The man known as “Il Generale” during his time in Italy will need to lead the U.S. troops from the front this summer.
Full name: Michael Sheehan Bradley
Hometown: Princeton, New Jersey
Position: Central midfielder
Caps/goals: 84 caps, 12 goals
Club: Toronto FC
Best moment in a U.S. shirt: Remember that ‘dos a cero’ game in Columbus vs. Mexico? Which one… I hear you, let me jog your memory. It was a damp and windy evening at a chilly Crew stadium on February 12, 2009, the USA and Mexico were locked in an intense World Cup qualifying battle and there were meaty challenges flying in all over the pitch. Then Bradley made the difference, as he always seems to do, by popping up twice at the end of each half to crush El Tri’s dreams with two goals. He was only 21 then, now he is ready for a new defining moment and many believe it could be this summer.
Starter or squad player at World Cup? He will start in central midfield but where exactly is up for debate. In the recent warm up game vs. Azerbaijan he started at the top of a diamond midfield which saw him become the creative midfielder. Although Bradley has no problem finishing chances and played a pivotal role in the USA’s opener, many would argue his best position is as the holding midfielder or a true two-way player. Wherever he is used by Klinsmann, Bradley will be crucial to the USA’s success in Brazil.
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