When Michael Bradley returned to the game at BMO Field late Saturday, nobody could have guessed the wound would have looked like this. It was mid-way through the second half, and the cut that had forced him to the sidelines looked like it had been contained. Over the last 20 minutes in Toronto, Bradley’s head was a non-issue as the Reds saw out their second win of the season.
Now that we’ve seen the 13 staples in the U.S. international’s scalp, the injury doesn’t seem like such a non-issue. Post-game, after Bradley displayed a cut that appeared to be in excess of two inches long, you couldn’t help but wonder why was one of Toronto’s most valuable assets allowed to continue against D.C. United.
The injury occurred well after Bradley had helped set up the game’s only goal – a 60th minute score from Jermain Defoe. In a head-to-head collision between the midfielder and United veteran Danny Arnaud, Bradley temporarily led the game, returning minutes later with his head wrapped in a bandage. Arnaud, with his face bleeding, was removed from the game in favor of Kyle Porter, his team tailing 1-0.
With Toronto up one — with just over 20 minutes left in the game — why was Bradley put back on? Is there no procedure in place where a trainer can go to a coach and say “that cut looks really bad”? Or is there no mechanism in place where the staff simply assesses the risks against the rewards and decides it’s not worth it?
Sure, Bradley probably felt he could continue, and given everything we’ve heard from BMO Field, there was no reason to think there was any conscious-related reason to keep him out. But this is why you don’t leave the decision to the player, especially when they can’t actually see the wound. That’s is a pretty big cut, and so early in the season, with a goal-starved D.C. United trying to comeback, why was Bradley risked?
You want to give the Toronto staff the benefit of the doubt, but one wayward elbow or another collision of heads and that cut could have gotten really ugly. Well, uglier.