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.
Don’t sleep on the fact that Schmid might be gathering momentum from inheriting a talented and underachieving roster and a brand new game-changing midfielder, which feels a bit like karmic retribution for Seattle firing him and signing Lodeiro the next day last season. Seattle only went and won the MLS Cup.
Schmid has used any number of formations, but could deploy a 4-3-3 with Jona Dos Santos, Jermaine Jones, and Joao Pedro in the midfielder and Giovani Dos Santos, Alessandrini, and Gyasi Zardes up top (Sebastian Lletget could return at some point, too).
Now FC Dallas is very deep, Sporting KC looks powerful, and Seattle won it all last year — plus, may be adding Derlis Gonzalez?!? — but LA’s move to add Dos Santos creates a quartet of teams with proven mettle (Houston looks decent, too, but I have concerns about their first-time as a unit in the playoffs).
While that still hampers the idea of the 34-year-old playing again — he’ll be 36 when the ban ends — it’s a significant change if he’s open to the idea of returning to the game.
Barton’s original ban expired in late October 2018, well into a season. From Sky Sports:
The appeal board also agreed: “It was clear that Mr Barton was not involved in any cheating, he did not influence any games and there was nothing suspicious about his bets.
“(The reduction) reflects the overall seriousness of the breaches and also the mitigation of Mr Barton’s addiction.”
Barton’s remarkably controversial career has including several suspensions and imprisonment, but he always found his way back to the field and was very good when in form. After time at Manchester City and Newcastle United, Barton fended off naysayers with stints at QPR, Marseille, Burnley, and a regrettable move to Rangers.