“I think it is shameful,” was Michael Bradley’s reaction. The U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder was asked for this thoughts on Monday’s Sporting News feature that detailed criticisms of U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
Eleven current players as well as another 11 sources close to the team were given anonymity in exchange for their participation. For Bradley, their contributions amounted to a betrayal.
“[Y]ou cross a line when you take those thoughts and you take your disappointments outside of the team and outside of the inner circle,” Bradley told the assembled media in Colorado. “So for me, it doesn’t help anybody, it doesn’t help anything that we are trying to do this week.”
Bradley becomes the third veteran of the national team to offer his thoughts in the wake to the Sporting News’ piece. Carlos Bocanegra posted his thoughts on Facebook Monday night, a defense a Jurgen Klinsmann’s communication with his players. On Tuesday, Tim Howard spoke out against the notion that the U.S.’s is a locker room divided.
“On every team in the world, not every guy is going to be happy,” Bradley explained, “on every team in the world there are going to be guys who go back to their room and talk with their roommate about things that they wish were different, things they wish would be done another way, but that is normal.”
The problems start when those critiques go beyond the team’s inner circles. Or, as Bradley put it, when players don’t have “the balls” to speak in front of the group.
“When you play on a team you have a chance everyday to give everything you have and part of that means having the balls to say things to guys to their face, having the balls to say things in front of the team.
“In those ways it is really disappointing that in a week as important as this, with so much on the line, that you would have something like that happen.”
Bradley called for the U.S. to turn their attentions to the field, saying the team “let ourselves down a little bit” given the revelations in Sporting News’ work.
“It is our job to represent ourselves and represent our country in a way that makes everybody proud.”
With three veterans speaking out and another being named captain, the week’s controversy seems to be unifying the team – in word and action if not in actual camaraderie. The actual bonds between players can only be seen from inside the dressing room, though one thing we can infer from Bradley’s comments is that these issues had not been brought up within the group at large. If there is major dissension in the ranks, it’s not bubbling up for team-wide discussion.
Then again, that seems to be Bradley’s main issue. Reports say there are problems, their existence may go beyond a select few, yet the team leaders aren’t seeing anybody step forward to bring them to the group.
And that leaves the obvious, lingering question: Which players contributed to Sporting News’ report? Are these fringe players unhappy with Klinsmann’s decisions (and their roles in the team)? Are the most damning critiques — the ones creating the most waves — from players? Or are they from the sources most distant from the current core?
Because as of now, three of the team’s most important players have spoken out to clarify the situation. Though it’s possible they contributed in some form, they seem unlikely to be the ones giving the anonymous accounts. So, who did?