Since we’re into a lot of U.S. national team talk today (with our updated series on the U.S. roster outlook for Brazil … and if you haven’t taken a look, well, let’s get right on that, eh?) may as well extend the conversation a bit.
Because the call is going out from learned voices that Michael Bradley should captain the U.S. team that arrives in Brazil.
Seriously, is there a more obvious choice?
Yes, Landon Donovan seems to perform better as captain. And history has shown us that a highly motivate Landon Donovan is worth having. You could argue that a guy like that shouldn’t need peripheral elements to goose his motivational mojo, but he’s 31 years old, so he is what he is at this point.
Clint Dempsey’s has been Jurgen Klinsmann go-to as captain for the last few months. But that always looked like an ill fit (even before Dempsey began to struggle somewhat as a goal scorer). It was like a great suit handed to a good looking gentleman – and yet the suit just didn’t seem to fit.
Best guess: It was Klinsmann’s way of encouraging Dempsey to broaden his voice around the locker room. Dempsey is more of a “lead by example” type, and nothing wrong with that. But maybe the U.S. coach hoped to goose a little something more.
Either way, Bradley always seemed like the natural choice. Even more so than Tim Howard, a pro’s pro himself, but not as important to the overall enterprise as Bradley. (Only because Howard can be replaced; Brad Guzan is more like a 1A than a 2nd choice. But there isn’t a player in the pool who can replace Bradley, the midfield brain and easily the team’s top passer.)
There is no one more introspective around the U.S. team than Bradley. There is no one who “thinks” his way around the game more than he does. I still remember listening to the U.S midfielder answer questions thoughtfully about 18 months ago after a match in Kansas City, always with something quite wise to say. And I thought then: this guy is the next U.S. captain.
I haven’t changed my mind.