The 26-year-old is the heart and soul of a team that has punched
above its weight at international level for years but still wants
Capped more than 80 times, Bradley has emerged as the central figure
in the team's World Cup plans, marshalling the midfield with dogged
Under coach Juergen Klinsmann, Bradley has been transformed from a
defensive midfielder to the playmaker, combining his tactical and
technical nous to better effect.
"I have become a more complete player, in every way," he told
Reuters after he first started working with Klinsmann.
"It has helped me grow as a player and I'm happy with the progress
that I've made. I think there is still a lot of room to grow there
Bradley made his international debut as a teenager in 2006 and
although he did not make the U.S. World Cup squad that year it was
not long before he cemented his place in the team.
The following year, he helped the Americans win the CONCACAF Gold
Cup although he was forced to sit out the final after being sent off
for a late tackle in the semis.
His combative style of play also cost him a place in the 2009
Confederations Cup final when he was shown a red card in America's
upset semi-final win over Spain, which he compounded by confronting
the referee and earning an additional ban.
He was selected for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa when his
father Bob was head coach of the national team and turned in a
strong performance, scoring in the group game against Slovenia.
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Unlike a lot of the American players, Bradley has spent most of his
professional career in Europe, mainly in Germany and Italy, where he
has learned to control his temper.
But he left Europe at the start of this year, to join Major League
Soccer club Toronto, and has been playing more regularly to the
delight of Klinsmann.
"Now having MLS back in the picture and picking up its rhythm, it's
just great to see Michael Bradley being there on the field and
showing everybody how good a player he is," Klinsmann recently told
"It's very, very important to us that our leaders in our group are
really getting a rhythm and getting their games in."
(Editing by Sudipto Ganguly and Mike Collett)
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