TORONTO, Canada — For sixty minutes, Michael Bradley fought the sloppy pitch and miserable weather at BMO Field during Toronto FC’s home opener.
His crosses weren’t finding their mark and, despite great possession, TFC couldn’t find a goal. Then, Bradley looped a ball over the top of the defense for Gilberto that ended up a goal for Jermain Defoe.
A minute later, Bradley went head-to-head with DC United’s Davy Arnaud, who left the field. Bradley missed a header and put his dome right into Arnaud’s mouth, requiring a full head-wrap and, after the match, 13 staples.
“He’s going to be in the locker room, showing it off to everybody,” said Toronto FC manager Ryan Nelsen. “That’s just another notch in his belt. To tell you the truth, he enjoys those.”
So it hasn’t taken long for the hard-nosed Bradley’s reputation to become reality for Nelsen, but the songs of praise aren’t limited to the 26-year-old’s toughness.
“He’s brilliant,” Defoe said. “He gives everything, every game. Mike’s winning mentality and his energy lifts the team and I’m sure everyone will say that.”
Of course, the American midfielder took a step back from himself when asked of his exploits. Even in deferring, he gave one of those inspirational quotes ready-made for a motivational poster with the picture of an eagle bearing down on a fighter jet full of nails and barbed wire.
“It’s more than just about one guy,” Bradley said. “It’s about putting a team on the field that every person who comes and watches can be proud of and go home feeling like they were part of something.”