Not so long ago, Michael Bradley was a young, rising, dynamic midfielder who was making a real name for himself in Serie A. Then he came to Roma and discovered that, in the eyes of the coaches, he was not nearly as good as Miralem Pjanic and not quite as good as Kevin Strootman — which made him the third man in a two-man central midfield. So he left for MLS.
In retrospect this does not seem like a good decision. Strootman has been injury-plagued and Bradley surely would have played regularly over the last couple of years — and now Pjanic has moved to Jventus. There is a real chance that had he stuck it out Bradley would now be a central figure in one of the best Serie A clubs.
But he chose to leave, and his game has been in decline ever since. Never much of an attacking threat, he has ceased to attack at all, especially with the USMNT, and what was once his greatest strength — patience and reliability on the ball — has become a notable weakness. With club and especially with country his passing accuracy has dropped noticeably and he gives the ball away with distressing frequency; moreover, he often shows little interest in working to get back the balls he loses.
Bradley has been an important figure in American soccer for many years now, but I am inclined to think that, whatever happens in the clubs he plays for, the USMNT needs to look beyond him. He has long been assured of a place in the side, but it is a place he no longer deserves. I think it may be time for the USMNT to say Arrivederci to Michael Bradley.
But I hope tonight he makes me seriously question this judgment.