U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley continues to rehab in efforts to get back on the field for Serie A club AS Roma.
Should we all kick up some fret, worry and concern about Bradley’s current, inactive status significantly reducing his playing time going forward at Roma? It seems like a legitimate talking point as it relates to the United States national team; Bradley has long been the glue-man in Jurgen Klinsmann’s lineup. No one is more irreplaceable, as we’ve seen over and over during the affable German’s time in charge. The team’s passing through midfield and defensive organization in the middle third suffers greatly in Bradley’s absence.
But ESPN analyst Taylor Twellman had it right Monday when he talked about why any concern over Bradley stagnation or rust or whatever is wildly premature. If we’re talking about developing young players ahead of Brazil 2014 then, yes, we are up against the shot clock; in that case, the World Cup is just around the corner.
But if we are talking about proven talent recovering from a relatively minor ankle injury (“minor” in the bigger picture, that is), then there is ample time. We are seven-plus months out of the May training camp that will serve as the final World Cup cram session for Klinsmann’s three-year build-up to Brazil.
Here’s what Twellman said Monday:
If it’s January, and Michael Bradley is not playing, guess what? He’s moving. He’s shown that in the past. … Michael Bradley will know, in his mind – he’s is a coach’s son – he will make sure he is playing at the best opportunity he has, before that World Cup comes. And if it’s not Roma, he has no problem moving on. I have no concern about Michael Bradley at all.
Twellman also referenced talk of a summer move. That was the reported bid from Sunderland – but given the high instability of that situation, aren’t we all glad the U.S. midfielder didn’t get stuck in that circus?
Here is the moment, Taylor speaking on Bradley, from ESPN FC:
Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal has declared “ugly” Atletico Madrid unworthy finalists in the UEFA Champions League.
Bayern was eliminated in the Champions League semifinal by Atleti on Tuesday, with Diego Simeone’s Spanish side advancing on away goals.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s UCL coverage ]
However, Vidal believed Bayern were the better team in the second leg, saying Atletico played “ugly football” to get through.
Today ugly football – Atletico – played against the best football in the world. The only time they saw the ball was for the goal.
They are going to be dreaming about us right up to the final. They did not have the ball, they took on the best team in the world, they took their chances and got to the final.
The best does not always win in football, like today. They are not deserved finalists.
Bayern Munich controlled more than 70-percent of possession and had 33 shots compared to Atletico’s nine, but those stats mean little as Antoine Griezmann’s away goal was enough to send Atleti to the final.
[ MORE: Former England striker Joe Cole headed to NASL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies ]
Atletico may not play the most attractive football, but after eliminating Barcelona and Bayern Munich in consecutive legs, it’s hard to argue anyone deserves this more than Simeone’s men.
The second leg of the Europa League semifinals kick off tomorrow, with two La Liga sides looking to make it an all-Spanish final.
[ MORE: Premier League Playback ]
Villarreal holds a 1-0 lead over Liverpool, while Sevilla scored two away goals in their 2-2 draw at Shakhtar Donetsk.
Liverpool vs. Villarreal – 3:05 p.m. ET
Villarreal won first leg 1-0
Adrian Lopez’s late winner in the first leg has given Villarreal a slight lead, while the Spanish side did well not to concede an away goal. However, Liverpool have overcome deficits at Anfield before, including their memorable 4-3 victory over Borussia Dortmund in the quarterfinals. Emre Can is back fit for the Reds, as manager Jurgen Klopp will hope his fellow German can help the team to a cup final in his first year in charge.
[ RELATED: Liverpool preparing for another big Thursday night at Anfield ]
Sevilla vs. Shakhtar Donetsk – 3:05 p.m. ET
First leg ended 2-2 draw
Sevilla are looking to become the first team to win three consecutive Europa League titles as the two-time defending champions face off against Shakhtar Donetsk. Sevilla are in the driver’s seat after scoring two away goals in Ukraine, and will feel confident of advancing to the final with a great home record at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.
In the latest Men in Blazers podcast, Rog and Davo celebrate Leicester City’s improbable Premier League title with Leicester’s own Arlo White.
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LISBON, Portugal (AP) Portuguese and European police say they have broken up a cell of an important Russian mafia group that allegedly laundered money through European football clubs.
Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, said in a statement Wednesday the group identified EU football clubs in financial distress and infiltrated them with benefactors who brought much-needed cash.
[ MORE: Man City bounced from UCL ]
Once they were in control, the mobsters allegedly laundered millions of euros (dollars) through player transfers, TV rights deals and betting.
Portuguese and European police on Tuesday raided third-division Portuguese club Uniao de Leiria and arrested three key members of the Russian gang. Three other Portuguese clubs’ premises were searched.
Europol said the operation helped identify serious crimes in Austria, Germany, and the United Kingdom, though it gave no details.