After a World Cup performance that wasn’t up to Michael Bradley’s standards, outspoken US manager Jurgen Klinsmann has put the 27-year-old midfield maestro on alert.
Things have gone from bad to worse for Bradley, as MLS club Toronto FC’s playoff hopes are looking bleak despite a much-hyped season thanks to big-name arrivials.
One of those arrivals is Bradley, and Klinsmann hasn’t been shy about his thoughts on US players returning home to play in Major League Soccer. He’s now said Bradley has to show his manager he hasn’t taken steps backwards.
“He has to prove that he hasn’t lost a bit,” Klinsmann said at his prematch press conference on yesterday prior to the US friendly with Honduras. “We’ll see now where he’s at. Obviously it looks pretty much like [Toronto will] not making the playoffs even if they mathematically [have] a chance. We’ll see now how he deals with that disappointment. It’s down to him and his environment to see what level he’s capable to play.”
The charge from Klinsmann is somewhat damning of Major League Soccer, although his words are consistent with what we’ve seen from Bradley in recent months. He was a polarizing figure in Brazil over the summer, and while much of the blame for his struggles lies elsewhere, it’s impossible to ignore his performances that were below a standard he’s set in the past.
Since the World Cup, his team Toronto FC have struggled mightily, and while Bradley hasn’t been as bad as the overall squad results have suggested, he is still a member of a sinking club.
Despite all of this, Bradley’s not having it.
“I think despite a less than successful season on a team level, I have still found ways to push myself and improve,” Bradley said.
For the second-highest paid player in MLS this season, there’s much for Bradley to show the country, and tonight against Honduras can go a long way in reassuring fans that he is still one of the country’s top players.