BOSTON (CBS) – Michael Bradley has nearly run a marathon through the first three US games of the World Cup, more than any other player in the tournament.
He’s covered 23.6 miles on the pitch, but despite this effort has been the subject of criticism from fans and pundits alike for his lack of production and mental mistakes, one of which cost the US a win over Portugal.
Nipun Chopra of World Soccer Talk came on 98.5 The Sports Hub Tuesday morning to chat with Ryan Johnston & Mike Flynn — filling in for the vacationing Toucher & Rich — about the play of Bradley, and for the most part he believes the criticism is unfair for a number of reasons.
“Bradley has been unfairly criticized. To me, Michael Bradley is the best player on the US Men’s National Team. However, he has had some glaring mistakes.”
Chopra notes that Bradley is playing a different position than he’s normally accustomed to, and he credits head coach Jurgen Klinsmann for thinking outside of the box in his utilization of the Toronto FC star.
“The problem is we are thinking of Michael Bradley in the position he played before the World Cup. What Jurgen Klinsmann has done, and by the way this is to Klinsmann’s credit, is he’s pushed Bradley further forward. It’s not because he expects Bradley to create a ton of chances, it’s because he wants Bradley to put pressure on the defenders of the opposition. That has worked really really well in the games, especially against Portugal and we saw it a little bit against Germany as well. I think we’ll see that against Belgium too. Every time a Belgian defender has the ball you’ll see Bradley running at him and closing them down.”
Despite calls to the contrary, Bradley will not be benched against Belgium in the Round of 16 and remains an integral part to the success of the US team in elimination play going forward.
“He’s undroppable for me. He’ll start today. And let’s not forget, the US Men’s National Team as a whole has not been passing well because they’ve been playing on the counter attack. I think people are noticing it more with Bradley because everyone expects to see that crisp, fluid passing that we’ve come to associate with Michael Bradley.”
Chopra also talked about the rise of soccer in the US, Jozy Altidore’s hamstring and much more.