With Paraguay waiting, knowing that a win will secure advance and push the USMNT out of the Copa America Centenario, we have to expect a tough fight. The Americans will need a strong display from their key guys and whether I like it or not, Michael Bradley falls in that category.
I have never seen eye to eye with anyone that believes that Bradley is the go-to guy for the US. While he always looks good and strong for Toronto, taking his talents to the international level has just never seemed to gel. In the 2014 World Cup, we were left flustered by Bradley’s frequent erroneous passes. It left me questioning why exactly he was being used as the central piece of the formation and the team captain.
The same thing continued in the Copa. Despite the occasionally magnificent long pass, the overlying product was incredibly disappointing. Not only that, but it was frustrating. That being said, here is a casual reminder of what he can do:
Against Colombia, Bradley looked horrible, but I’ve already addressed this ad nauseum. Despite a clobbering of Costa Rica by the USMNT, we still didn’t see much out of Bradley. It was Jermaine Jones who took the reins and Dempsey was there to share the load. But Bradley was still largely irrelevant.
This is one of the main reasons why I struggle with Klinsmann’s set-up. He puts far too much on Michael Bradley, who in turn fails to deliver.
With Darlington Nagbe sitting right there next to Klinsmann day in and day out, there has to be a tipping point where enough is enough and changes are made. It didn’t come after Colombia, which shocked me, but it all worked out thus far.
Bradley has everything to prove against Paraguay. He has to prove that he can be a relevant member of this USMNT squad. The shoddy part about it all, though, is that even if he doesn’t, Klinsmann will probably stick with him. And that is the catalyst that pulls the USMNT down.
This negative situation can all be alleviated if Bradley shows us something – anything – against Paraguay. Even just an average game where he contributes in the slightest fashion would be a step in the right direction. The team captain should not go from being a liability to being irrelevant in back-to-back games. Eventually there needs to be a step up and if it doesn’t come against Paraguay, then I don’t believe it will ever come.
Bradley’s fate has to be tied to Klinsmann’s. When the German loses his spot, so too should Bradley. I have no problem with him staying around and perhaps moving positions, but retaining him as the captain and centerpiece if he can’t show any form of improvement is just unacceptable.