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Michael Bradley Now Second All Time In USMNT Assists — Will Anyone Ever Love Him?

When the USMNT failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, Michael Bradley became a major target of vitriol from U.S. fans. The son of a former coach, Bradley has been booed across the country since that fateful night in Trinidad and Tobago in October of 2017. 

Bradley is too slow, too dumb, too useless, the critics say.

But the career Michael Bradley USMNT stats suggest he deserves more respect than he gets.

With an absolute dime to Tyler Boyd on Tuesday night, Bradley jumped into second place in USMNT all-time assists. And it just so happened to be the 1,000th goal in USMNT history. 

The stellar cross-field pass gave Bradley 23 assists for the U.S., passing Cobi Jones for second-most all time. Bradley still trails Landon Donovan’s record of 58 — a mark that is likely to stand for a while — but he’s ahead of the likes of Clint Dempsey (21), Claudio Reyna (19) and Tab Ramos (14). 

But it seems like no matter what Bradley and his shaved (bald?) head do, it’s never enough for U.S. fans.

Michael Bradley’s career should be enough to merit better treatment from the portion of the U.S. fanbase that complains every time he is called up to the USMNT again.

Bradley built his career in Europe. After one season as a regular with the MetroStars in MLS, he moved to the Netherlands to play with Heerenveen. Bradley scored 15 goals in the 2007-08 season, finishing fifth in the Golden Boot race with just two fewer than Luis Suarez. 

Bradley then had a strong stint at Borussia Mönchengladbach before playing a few years in Serie A with Chievo and Roma. During his time abroad, Bradley played alongside players like Francesco Totti, Marco Reus and Daniele De Rossi. When he moved back to MLS, he captained Toronto FC to its first MLS Cup. 

Bradley has done more in his club career than most potential replacements for him on the USMNT will ever accomplish. Sure, players like Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams have the potential to surpass him, but right now they’re young and inexperienced and at 31, Bradley still has life in his legs. (Plus, Adams is injured, and Gregg Berhalter prefers him at right back anyway.) 

Then there are the career Michael Bradley USMNT stats.

As mentioned above, Bradley currently ranks second in assists in USMNT history. With 17 goals, he’s in the top 10 all time, despite spending most of his career as a holding midfielder. 

With 146 caps to his name, Bradley ranks third behind Jones (164) and Donovan (157). It’s quite possible Bradley ends his career as the most-capped player in U.S. men’s national team history. And he’s captained the team for 49 matches, third most after Carlos Bocanegra (64) and Tony Meola (53).

Michael Bradley USMNT Stats

  • Caps — 146 (3rd all time)
  • Goals — 17 (9th all time)
  • Assists — 23 (2nd all time)
  • Matches As Captain — 49 (3rd all time)

Perhaps some of the hate for Michael Bradley stems from his willingness to speak out against social issues he believes in. Often a proud wearer of a rainbow captain’s armband, Bradley railed against Donald Trump’s Muslim ban in 2017

Embed from Getty Images

But on the pitch, Bradley has given everything he’s got for the U.S. There have been low points, certainly, as when he couldn’t help the USMNT qualify for the 2018 World Cup, but he’s also been an underrated midfield marshal. Bradley reads the game as well as anyone and when his accuracy is on, he’s one of the most dangerous long-ball passer on the team. (Unfortunately, he has had periods when his passing was not on.)

Bradley’s assist for the USMNT’s 1,000th goal was another example of what Bradley brings to the table. He’s not doing elasticos like Christian Pulisic or running himself ragged like McKennie, but right now he’s the best defensive midfielder the U.S. has at its disposal. Wil Trapp is basically a lesser version of Bradley right now, with a bit more bite but far less nuance. 

Michael Bradley should be appreciated as an all-time great for the U.S., one who can still bring a lot to the team. There isn’t an heir apparent ready to take over his role yet, and Bradley himself said he believes his best days are in front of him. He deserves the chance to continue with the team — and to not be so hated by the fans.

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