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Michael Bradley: We have a president who is completely empty

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Michael Bradley has eviscerated the President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, and spoken out about the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests across the country.

The USMNT veteran (Bradley has played 151 times for the USA) spoke on a media call late Thursday, as he was asked about the current political situation and the protests against police brutality following the recent death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN and days of heated protests across the USA.

Bradley, 32, didn’t hold back when asked about his feelings on the current situation and the administration.

“We have a president who is completely empty. There isn’t a moral bone in his body,” Michael Bradley said. “There’s no leadership. There’s no leadership from the president, there’s no leadership from the Republican senators who have sat back and been totally complicit in everything he’s done for the last three-and-a-half years.”

“I just hope that people are able to go to the polls in November and think about more than just what is good for them, more than what is good for their own status, their own business, their own tax return. I hope that people can go to the polls and understand that in so many ways, the future of our country and the future of our democracy is at stake.

“We need as many people as possible to understand that at a real level, to think about what four more years with Trump as president, what that would mean, how terrible that would be for so many people. If we want any chance to start to fix those things, then Trump can’t be president, it’s as simple as that.”

Asked about the Black Lives Matter movement and the protests to both honor George Floyd and call for a change in police tactics, Bradley urged people to listen and to do more to help, just as he plans to do.

“I have spent the last 10 days watching, listening to it all and I don’t even know where to start,” Bradley said. “There is so much that needs to be said. I’m horrified, angry, disgusted and embarrassed we live in a world where Black men, women, children fear for their lives daily.

“We have to find real ways to front this head-on. What we have been doing, the way we have been living is not good enough. We all have to do more, we all have to educate ourselves more, we all have to have more difficult conversations, we all, especially, especially white men, white women need to listen, need to put themselves, need to do the best that they can to understand that there is a perspective and a world totally different than the one that they’re used to.

“I have strong feelings on this. I can’t pretend to know everything, and I could never begin to understand what it’s truly like for Black families, but I want to understand more, I need to understand more, I need to listen, I need to read, I need to educate myself more.”

How might Major League Soccer shorten its season?

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Major League Soccer’s season is going to look different, but how much so?

The league announced Tuesday that it’s “extremely unlikely” to return in mid-May, and that the season may not be played in full.

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After suspending play, Major League Soccer announced on March 19 that the plan was to shut down for eight weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic and the plan was to resume the 2020 MLS season on May 10.

So, what are some of the scenarios the league could pursue with a calendar that may not start until June or July, and likely begin behind closed doors.

Our Joe Prince-Wright speculated that the league could cut the MLS Cup Playoffs altogether in a bid to squeeze what would normally be a 7-month schedule into a much shorter time frame.

That’s certainly a simple fix, but it would cut out what’s been a very exciting chase for teams in a league where more than half of the league makes the postseason.

So what are some other ideas that don’t involve mixing the MLS Cup Playoffs?

1) MLS Cup Playoffs in a European Cup setting: The league could move the MLS Cup Playoffs in-season at midweek. Yes, every club would have to make it, but what if the playoffs started a few weeks into the season with midweek matches?

The travel could make this idea a non-starter, so the draw would have to be conducted beforehand, but the bigger issue would be the fact that MLS teams already treat the U.S. Open Cup and the CONCACAF Cup like a burden. Why even have the competition if teams roll out all of their kids and cross their fingers until the semifinals? We’d hate this because it would give MLS another chance to ignore/skip/exploit a great tournament like the USOC, but such is life.

2) 25-game season plus minimally shortened playoffs: Here’s one I really like due to the fact that the league’s massive expansion had already removed fairness from the Supporters’ Shield race by unbalancing the schedule: Have every team play each other once, that’s it. Single-table but chop the playoff teams from 14 to 13 with the Supporters’ Shield-winner getting a two-round bye, then continue as such. A season beginning on July 1 would give you 18 weeks to early-November, then a furious finish.

3) Regular season in-conference only, shortened playoffs: It’s only one fewer game. While the Western Conference markets wouldn’t get to see their sides meet the big names of the Eastern Conference, and vice versa, this would beef up the regular season with rivalries. We’d build in even more drama by cutting the playoff spots back to six.

4) Divisional redraw to drastically shorten regular season: If the league wanted to keep the MLS Cup Playoffs as is, mostly, it could divide its 26 teams into four or more divisions. There would be an uneven distribution, which would cause some Players Union grievances, but the league could be down to under 20 regular season dates in a heartbeat with 2x/division and a sprinkling of crossover games.

Now I’ve tried several times to divide the teams and the stupid geography of this country always leaves one or two teams in an impossible bind, but just for the sake of the visual.

Div 1 (6): Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Jose, LAFC, LA Galaxy

Div 2 (7): Real Salt Lake, Colorado, Sporting KC, Minnesota United, Chicago, Columbus, Cincinnati

Div 3 (6): Inter Miami, Atlanta, Orlando City, Nashville SC, FC Dallas, Houston

Div 4 (7): Montreal, New England, NY Red Bulls, NYCFC, Philadelphia Union, DC United

5) The shortest season: The shortest this could go would be keeping the conferences the same, chopping it down to one game versus each conference opponent, then regrouping with an expanded playoff. Twelve games plus a maximum of five more.

Weird times. Weird ideas. What would you choose? Also, it’s the end of my shift so forgive me if I’ve missed something that disqualifies one of the above ideas.

2020 MLS Power Rankings, Vol. 1

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With the 2020 Major League Soccer season kicking off this weekend, here’s a (surely brilliant) predictive edition of the Power Rankings, which will be updated at the start of every month here on PST…

[ MORE: Jurgen Klinsmann’s parting shots cause anger at Hertha Berlin ]

MLS Cup favorites
Los Angeles FC and New York City FC

We all remember what LAFC did last year, and the fact they didn’t win MLS Cup despite settling most every relevant league record will only serve as further fuel for Bob Bradley to demand even more from (inarguably) the most talented team in the league. One potential pitfall: after trading Walker Zimmerman (for a record amount of allocation money), it’s unclear who’ll start at center back, and if you think it’s clear it’s a less than ideal situation. As for NYCFC, they managed to fly under the radar last year despite finishing top of the Eastern Conference by six points. While they don’t have the household names of an LAFC or Atlanta United, Domenec Torrent’s side (now that of Ronny Deila) played every bit the attractive, fluid attacking soccer of the league’s darlings. In a week East, NYCFC could wind up Supporters’ Shield winners.

MLS Cup contenders
Seattle Sounders, Atlanta United, LA Galaxy and Toronto FC

These teams will be in the playoffs, 100 percent guarantee. (fingers are now crossed) With satisfactory answers to certain questions, they could make the leap from contenders to favorites with ease. Those questions are… Seattle: does the completely rebuilt backline come together, and how long does it take? Atlanta: will head coach Frank De Boer find the right balance between his preferred defensive slant and the roster’s natural tendency to attack at all costs? Galaxy: is the defense, which has been horrific for five or six years now, any better? Toronto: wait, why aren’t they on the “favorites” line? Ah, yes, because only one team per conference is allowed.

See you in the playoffs
Real Salt Lake, FC Dallas, Philadelphia Union and D.C. United

Here’s the thing about this group: the two teams from the East should finish fourth or fifth in the junior circuit (some ways back of the clear-cut top-three), but they probably wouldn’t make the playoffs in the West. By default, Philadelphia and D.C. get a bump in the tiers for the fact they’ll walk into the playoffs in the East. That is not — repeat not — to say they are as good as RSL or Dallas, who would actually push Atlanta and Toronto for second and third.

In the hunt
Portland Timbers, Sporting Kansas City, Minnesota United, Colorado Rapids, Chicago Fire, Houston Dynamo, Columbus Crew SC, San Jose Earthquakes, New York Red Bulls, New England Revolution and Montreal Impact

That’s a long list of teams. As stated above, the teams from the East will be in playoff contention due to not having seven standout sides. Basically, any combination of these teams could wind up in the playoffs. Looking to the West, Portland, Sporting KC and Minnesota have the potential to climb a tier (or two) if all goes right for them, but each of those sides has a glaring, and potentially fatal, flaw. The temptation to say Colorado will actually be quite good and also a playoff team is very strong, but it goes against all human instincts when you think back to how they opened the 2019 season, before firing Anthony Hudson and hiring Robin Fraser and almost making the playoffs anyway.

Fulfilling obligations
FC Cincinnati, Orlando City SC and Vancouver Whitecaps

Barely a month into their first season (last season), Cincinnati was very clearly the worst team in the league. Somehow, the offseason has gone even worse for them. They (probably) managed to improve enough so as to not claim back-to-back Wooden Spoons, but enough to contend for a playoff place? Highly unlikely. Orlando City has never — not once in their five-year MLS history — given me, or anyone, reason to believe they are a competent organization. Until they do so for a period of six (6) months or more, they just exist for existence’s sake. Speaking of merely existing, the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Expansion teams, TBD
Inter Miami and Nashville SC

Here’s the thing about expansion teams: they aren’t to be trusted, either way. What looks good on paper can sometimes look terrible on the field, and what looks terrible on paper can sometimes look great on the field. We’ll give Miami and Nashville their first assessments after a month of games.

USMNT’s Bradley suffers serious ankle injury; Altidore hits out

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USMNT midfielder Michael Bradley will reportedly be out for up to four months due to an ankle injury he suffered playing for Toronto FC in the 2019 MLS Cup final against Seattle. That was the MLS Cup final, in November.

The TFC skipper, 32, suffered the serious ankle injury during the game and per reports he has been rehabbing the ankle over the past two months. However, that hasn’t had the desired effect and now ankle surgery is his only option.

Via Joshua Kloke from The Athletic, TFC’s General Manager Ali Curtis confirmed that Bradley will have ankle surgery in New York City on Tuesday. Curtis added that “surgery was a last resort and club believed they could rehab injury.”

Bradley’s teammates with Toronto and USMNT, Jozy Altidore, then hit out at the handling of the situation as Toronto will be without their leader for almost half of thee MLS season.

“Make no mistake. In my opinion, for me, it was handled poorly,” Altidore told reporters as TFC returned to practice on Monday, as he insinuated that Bradley was put in a tough position by the club over his injury.

The injury will reportedly keep him out for at least four months, meaning he will miss a huge chunk of the MLS season and also the USMNT’s friendlies against the Netherlands (March 26) and Wales (March 30).

This is a hammer blow for Toronto as Bradley led the organization on and off the pitch since he arrived in 2014, reaching three MLS Cup finals in the last four seasons. He only signed a new contract with Toronto FC over the offseason as his previous deal expired but it will be intriguing to see how this all plays out as Altidore obviously believes this situation could have been handled a lot better.

USMNT fans will now focus on having some of their younger players take the lead in central midfield in March and maybe beyond, with Tyler Adams now back to full fitness as he looks set to become Gregg Berhalter’s go-to guy in midfield.

Bradley’s displays in recent seasons have been lamented by USMNT fans but Berhalter has made him an integral part of his plans and he is one of the few players who survived the massive cull from the 2018 World Cup qualifying debacle. Losing Bradley for this amount of time is a big blow for club and country.

Michael Bradley re-signs with Toronto FC

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Toronto FC captain Michael Bradley has re-signed with the Major League Soccer franchise.

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Bradley, 32, saw his previous contract run out at the end of the 2019 season but he has now agreed a new deal with the Canadian side and Toronto have squeezed him into their salary cap by using Targeted Allocation Money (TAM).

During his six season stint so far in Toronto, Bradley has led the team to three MLS Cup finals as TFC stunned MLS with a run to the final against Seattle in 2019. They lost on that occasion but beat Seattle in 2017 and Bradley’s displays, along with that of Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore and now Alejandro Pozuelo have seen Toronto become one of the most consistent teams in MLS.

Explaining his reasons for signing a new deal in Toronto, Bradley revealed that he wants to take them onto bigger and better things.

“I feel so attached to the city of Toronto, the club, the team. I love it here and I am really proud of what we’ve been able to do over the past six years,” Bradley said. “Beyond the success, I am equally as proud of the mentality and identity this club has taken on. The relationship between the club and the city, the club and the fans are both very special and I’m proud to have played a part in that. What we have in Toronto doesn’t exist everywhere. My family and I are so happy to remain in Toronto and we’d like to thank everyone at Toronto FC for ensuring that this process was done quietly and professionally behind the scenes. I’m looking forward to continuing to play in the biggest games and competing for trophies every year.”

Bradley still has plenty left in the tank, as last season showed, and despite rumors that he would link up with his father, Bob Bradley, at LAFC, he is staying in Ontario.

That’s great news for Toronto FC as despite plenty of criticism from USMNT fans over recent years, Bradley has continued to deliver consistency and leadership at BMO Field.