With World Cup looming, Bradley aims for strong Roma campaign

BradleyMoses

Photo by ISIphotos.com

By THOMAS FLOYD

WASHINGTON — Michael Bradley understands the importance of a proper preseason. Develop chemistry, build fitness, round into form — all key, of course.

He is also aware that his preseason carries added significance. After all, it marks the official beginning of a World Cup year. With his sport’s grandest showcase just 10 months away, the AS Roma and U.S. national team midfielder is aware of what’s at stake.

That doesn’t mean Bradley is doing anything differently as he heads into his latest European season. As a player who always keeps the bar high, he is treating this year like he treats every year, with a commitment to be the best player he can be.

“When there’s a World Cup at the end of the season, it’s important for everybody to be playing consistently, to be sharp, to be fit,” Bradley said. “But these are things you want to be about every year, every day, regardless.”

Bradley and his Roma teammates wrapped their three-game preseason tour of the U.S. with a 2-1 loss to Chelsea FC on Saturday at RFK Stadium. Now, the club’s focus turns to its Serie A opener Aug. 25 against newly promoted AS Livorno Calcio.

A season after starting 24 league matches, Bradley is aiming to maintain his starting spot in central midfield and help Roma build off an 18-12-8 campaign that left the club on the outside looking in at the Europa League.

“The idea is always the same,” Bradley said. “The idea is to improve each day. The idea is to take a big role in the team that I’m playing on, which is Roma. The idea is to be on the field as much as possible to help Roma win.”

Although second-half goals from Frank Lampard and Romelu Lukaku gave Chelsea the victory Saturday, the match was the only loss of a Roma tour that also included a 3-1 win over the MLS All-Stars and a 4-1 triumph against Toronto FC.

“I think we’ve shown, really from the first time we’ve stepped on the field as a group this year, that we want to play well, we want to win,” Bradley said. “It’s important to develop this winning mentality, this idea that every time you step on the field there’s confidence in the team.”

It’s been a busy summer for Bradley, who started four games for the U.S. national team in June. In fact, the 26-year-old had just 43 days between starting the Americans’ World Cup qualifying win over Honduras and kicking off preseason for Roma with the MLS All-Star Game.

Against Chelsea, Bradley logged the full 90 minutes while being deployed in an interchange-heavy midfield trio also featuring Kevin Strootman and Alessandro Florenzi — an encouraging sign for the U.S. that Bradley is in good standing heading into this crucial year.

As Bradley notes, if he’s helping Roma rack up points in Serie A, success on the international level won’t be far behind.

“When you’re able to do all of these things, it comes together in a way that you’re improving as a player,” Bradley said. “Obviously then, when you step on the field for the national team, what you can give to that team continues to grow as well.”

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34 Responses to With World Cup looming, Bradley aims for strong Roma campaign

  1. malkin says:

    Can Klinsmann just name him captain already?

    • Jamie Z. says:

      I almost mentioned something to that effect in my post. He’s probably got innate leadership qualities, but he’s had great grooming, as well. I could see him wearing the captain’s armband for both club and country in the not-too-distant future.

    • biff says:

      @Malkin: Why would he name MB captain. The team already has a captain and his name is Clint Dempsey. And should something happen to Dempsey then next in line and well ahead of MB for captain are Timmy Howard, Landon Donovan, Steven Cherundolo and Jermaine Jones.

      • Jamie Z. says:

        You appear to believe the queue for the captaincy is based on seniority…

      • gabe says:

        Landon Donovan as captain before Michael? Please.

        • Mr_A says:

          Yeah, Parkhurst is a no-brainer. (Just kidding, y’all)

          • Talking about inconsistency, Bradly is a clear case. He was good playing against Russia, and scored a beauty of a goal. Actually it was an spectacular goal. He looked like a terrific striker. But, sadly, this is the only real good thing that I remember him doing in any match .We saw him in the All Stars game, he was not outstanding at all, making an occasional pass (a short one I must say), and lucking confidence. I’m not sure if he will be able to overcome this in the future, for this is part of his character . But then again, this was a different Bradly than the one I saw against Russia, witch could mean just that he is not sure of doing whatever he has to do at that moment, in different circumstances .

        • Jaquon H. says:

          Are you f-ing retarted. Donovan is the best US player in history. Bradley is on his way, but not yet. Not to deserve captaincy over LD. Can you actually know soccer (or football) before you comment?

    • Phil B says:

      I’ve said it, too. He definitely deserves it. Not taking anything away from Clint, and Howard could make a strong case for himself, but MB is the vocal leader on the field that the USMNT needs.

      Not to mention that he is a bad@$$.

  2. Jamie Z. says:

    Bradley never says anything particularly interesting, per se, but he always says the right things.

  3. squirtlover says:

    Best current American player, and will be for the next…8 years. Captain ‘Merica. Guy is a grizzled veteran at 26. Class act, world class player.

    • ronniet says:

      Time for you to wake up from your dream buddy!

    • Naugles says:

      Guy is great but BOY did he look bad on that second goal. Hazard moved through everyone on Roma, and Bradley was just jogging, about two moves behind.

      Chalk it up to 90 minutes and little to no off-season.

  4. THomas says:

    Only reason he has ANY chance of playing a big role at Roma is because his dad’s…

    …I can’t believe anybody ever actually believed in that theory.

  5. elgringorico says:

    The word among non-American Roma fans is that Bradley is #3 right now after Strootman and De Rossi

    • m says:

      Thought the announcers during the MLS AS game said something along those lines.

    • melbot says:

      Vast majority of Roma fans see him as a good squad player and spot starter. With De Rossi, Strootman, Pjanic, and Florenzi to compete with, he probably won’t get as much minutes as last season.

      • sal says:

        From someone who actually watches every Roma game (unlike announcers in America) Bradley is decent not world class- sorry guys- his positioning is actually pretty poor, and he’s actually pretty useless in the final 3rd. His best quality is his work ethic and he’s a decent passer.

        Roma’s starting midfield will be Strootman, De Rossi, Pjanic. Florenzi is still ahead of him too. Bradley will come off the bench most of the time, with the occasional start if there’s an injury or two.

      • danny says:

        Interesting how the conversation on MB has evolved… it used to be “He sucks- shouldn’t be starting for the NATS” to now… he”he’s just a squad player” for a top Serie A team with a stacked midfield.

        One observation: given MB’s style of play and role, it’s easier to overlook his contribution. I’d be curious to see ROMA’s record with him starting vs. without him. His M.O. is that he will help’s his team win. He’s the type of player that as a teammate, you’d like to see lined up with you, because you intuitively know that he’s going to help you win. So I wouldn’t dismiss him by assuming he’s losing his starting spot for good.

        Also, I wouldn’t call him world class, but he’s on his way. Keep in mind, he’s only played one season at ROMA.

      • wides says:

        They absolutely blast Bradley’s tactical sense and spatial awareness on the Roma blogs I’ve seen. Though supposedly Garcia rates him highly.

      • UMF89 says:

        Here is the problem for MB…Strootman was brought in by the new coach (I believe Florenzi as well) Florenzi and Strootman are more offensive-minded than MB and you have Totti as well. DeRossi is being saved for the start of Serie A….Is Garcia going to play 2 holding midfielders DeRossi and MB…I do not think so….Strootman provides the box-to-box to go along with DeRossi…..The reason MB has played all these minutes in preseason is because Garcia is trying to figure out if MB is good enough backup for DeRossi….I love MB but if he were truly world class DeRossi would be at Chelsea with MB playing 45-60 minutes a game before the start of the season….when is the last time so saw a world class player play every minute of pre-season?

        • John says:

          It’ll be interesting to see what still plays out with Bradley during this transfer window. I don’t see Roma keeping De Rossi, Bradley and Pjanic.

        • danny says:

          UMF89- your reading of the situation sounds plausible, but who knows exactly what the plan is and how much it might change based on performance (not to mention injuries). I also wouldn’t assume that Strootman is going to just walk into a starting role with ease, as he is new to Serie A and relatively young. As to DeRossi comment… Having watched the two play (albeit infrequently) over the last year or two, I haven’t seen that big a gap between De Rossi and MB. So it’s not just that DeRossi is at this world class level untouchable by MB, but that there’s also the Italian/Politics angle here too. It’s a little unfortunate that Bradley was bought on the cheap, so that ROMA can really afford to keep him as a backup. But if I were in ROMA’s shoes, I’d sell DeRossi for sure and use the money to buy a world class defender or two, especially now that they have Strootman.

        • sal says:

          Florenzi is a home grown player born in Rome in his second season with the club. He could play in midfield or as a winger- it’ll be interesting where Garcia plays him and if he’ll crack the starting 11 b/c he’s had an excellent preseason. He’s already an Italian international.

          Strootman is a definite starter. He’s not more defensive than Bradley, he’s better and more complete. He cost (up to) 20 million euros and they didn’t bring him in “for the future”.

          Garcia rates Pjanic and he’s unsellable according to Italian media. Watch the Roma-Toronto game and see how the game changed when he was brought in.

          De Rossi hasn’t been around this summer b/c of Confed. cup and injuries, but there have not been any bona fide offers for him and it appears Garcia wants him to stay. Not to mention the Italian media sources I read haven’t linked him with a move for weeks. His national team form is a lot better than his Roma form but they’re banking on a turn around this year with a more balanced manager.

          Bradley is ahead of Marquinho. He will get minutes/some starts although there have been links with Everton and Hellas Verona. I don’t see him leaving though.

        • Jaquon H. says:

          Hmmm…… Cristiano Ronaldo. And hey didnt bRadley start over DeRossi last season?

  6. Plebe says:

    Besides the Hazard/jogging behind him comment above how did Bradley look in this game?

  7. dcpohl says:

    Mikey should be the captain we start the qualifying campaign for the next World Cup. I love Dempsey, but this could be his last WC (same with Donovan) and although I think Howard has great leadership qualities a captain should be an outfield player who can consistently be in contact with the officials unlike a goalkeeper.

  8. Jordan says:

    I hope Garcia starts Bradley. Bradley, Strootman, Pjanic, and De Rossi are all fighting for starting spots. Glad to see him called up for the friendly on Wednesday.

    Also Klinsy announced today that Timmy Howard will be captain for Wednesday’s game.

  9. whoop-whoop says:

    Regarding the Capt. discussion. Fun to talk about, but frankly, none of us has the day in day out access to the team dynamic/interaction behind the scenes, on the road, in training, in the locker room that is really needed to make that decision. From the outside, kind of player he is and how he carries himself, Bradley sure seems a good candidate.

  10. MikeG says:

    Michael Bradley plays DM for Roma or his days are numbered at Roma.

  11. Bean says:

    I’m a fan of Bradley, but thought that his preseason could’ve been better, and that he could’ve made a better case for himself. It’s a long season, and he’ll have plenty of time to show what he’s made of.

    With the addition of Strootman, and if De Rossi stays in Rome, they will be the central midfield for Romes campaign. I think that Strootman has been prolific, and likely justified his transfer.