DAVID SMITH - Monday, June 22, 2009
After a remarkable 90 minutes which saw the US go from the brink of an embarrassing elimination to a semifinal date with Spain, Michael Bradley is reveling in the team's success.

His goal in the 63rd minute was the second of three for the Stars and Stripes, who, thanks to Brazil's identical 3-0 demolition of Italy, suddenly find themselves canceling their early return flights stateside and unexpectedly looking forward to more of the deafening sound of vuvuzelas.

"We just came into the night knowing that we needed to win and that we needed goals," Bradley told YA. "We were committed to taking it one play at a time and one goal at a time."

The Americans came into Sunday's game with a gargantuan task ahead of them if they hoped to advance to the semifinals, not only needing a victory combined with a loss by the Italians, but more dauntingly forced to atone for a seemingly insurmountable deficit in goal differential.

Bradley, however, feels the team's dedication to push ahead together despite the odds ultimately gave them the right headspace for their startling success.

"There are no guarantees when you come into a game that you're going to get a goal right away or that things will go your way," he concedes.

"But we said to each other before the game that we were going to be committed for 90 minutes to leave everything on the field, and at the end see how the chips would fall."

While the 3-0 scoreline seems to indicate a night and day difference in comparison to the previous two multiple-goal losses, the ultimate distinction, in Bradley's opinion, is as simple as arithmetic.

"We played with 11 guys for 90 minutes."

"Everybody wants to be so quick to say how bad things are and how we're the worst team in the world," he said, seething. "Well, it's not so easy when you've played Brazil and Italy down a guy for 90 out of 180 minutes."

The performance sends the Red, White & Blue to the knockout rounds of a non-CONCACAF tournament for the first time since their memorable quarterfinal run of the 2002 World Cup, and perhaps more importantly, gives Bradley and his fellow Yanks a massive boost after a tough four-game run which saw them heavily criticized for a series of unlucky or simply lackluster performances.

"At the end of the night, you walk into the locker room, and to be able to experience a feeling like that with your teammates, with the coaches, with the trainers, that's why you play," he affirms.

"To be able to do something special like that where everything is against you, everybody wants to say how bad you are, everybody wants to write you off - to just leave all that outside the locker room and just be committed as a team to leaving everything on the field, to be running for each other, to be fighting for each other - that's what we did."

Bradley is unabashed in expressing his sentiment of the team's vindication from the mounting criticism prior to this important win, feeling that their performance against the African champions is more indicative of their true qualities.

"All the experts in America, everybody who thinks they know everything about soccer, they can all look at the score tonight and let's see what they have to say now."

The US will be allowed little time to relax in their success, since the team frequently regarded as the best in the world - Spain - awaits less than three days later, after having coasted through their first three games, albeit in a relative "group of fluff", by a combined 8-0 scoreline.

The significance of Wednesday night's date is not lost for the young Bradley amongst the elation of their victory, however, as the team's focus shifts towards one single goal.

"We're not really thinking about much more than trying to step on the field Wednesday night and get a win to give ourselves a chance to play in a final," he maintains.

"Obviously you are playing in the semifinal of a big competition and you know it's going to be that much more competitive and that much harder. Everything is on the line."

With a likely return trip to the southern tip of Africa for next summer's World Cup finals only a year away, the recent survivor of Borussia Mönchengladbach's also miraculous escape from Bundesliga relegation is convinced that these sorts of experiences are what ultimately build strength within a team to ready them for whatever set of new and unexpected challenges lay ahead.

"When you walk into the locker room after a night like tonight and you can look at every guy in the eye and you know how every guy has given everything they have for the cause and for each other, that's a special feeling."

"When you can do that, and the more you can do that, that's how you build a team, that's how you build something special."

"Tonight's a good step but Wednesday will hopefully be a bigger one."
Wednesday June 24, 2009 5:26 pm
You already said it. Bradley earned his stay. But the critics were right. The US was not playing their best soccer leading up to today's victory. But Bradley did something about it. Today he embodied the American spirit. I am very, very proud. But I am not so naive as to think that we were always this good. Come on. We played perfect ball today. Can you say that about any other game? Forgetaboutit.

Today I feel good. Today I am proud and vindicated. We always had it in us. We just had to have a coach bring it out of us. And the FANS helped Bradley do that. We put him the pressure on him. He put the pressure on the team. The team stepped up and played its best soccer yet. All I want is for them to do their best EVER SINGLE TIME.

Pat M
Wednesday June 24, 2009 9:54 am
With all due respect to Michael Bradley - because he HAS earned it. I'm still not sure this team has proved anyone wrong ...yet. Lets not get ahead of ourselves. We beat a tired, undermanned Egyptian team that most thought we should beat coming into the tournament and got LUCKY that Italy decided to mail it in.

Bradley along with 4 or 5 others (Gooch, Donovan the goalies, DeMerit) aren't the ones that have been the problem. The question I have is with some of the tactics and squad selection as well as other players lack of fire and concentration.

Why does it take widespread condemnation and hysteria to fire these guys up? Aren't they professionals?

If they can't get motivated to put on a red, white and blue shirt for thier country then they shouldn't be there!

If they are starstruck by the team on the other side of the ball then they shouldn't be there!

These guys should realize it is a priviledge and an honor to play for thier country and man up or let someone who will play. It isn't 1994 anymore, we are here to try to win.
Tuesday June 23, 2009 6:53 pm
Just a note to say YA, way to step up. Not the team, the website. Well the team too. But nice work on the interviews.
Tuesday June 23, 2009 5:56 pm
Is distance covered an indicator of work ethic or being caught out of position? There's no question that Bradley works hard but I was surprised to see Dempsey #2 on that list. After watching him the past few games for the U.S. I don't believe he works hard at all unless it's to show off his skills by losing the ball or making a bad pass.
As a national team we have not progressed since 2002 at all and have even stepped backwards. Bradley was a fine coach for a very short time but is not going to help us to get better and be one of the elites that a lot of people seem to think we are.
Nice to see that after so many apathetic games they finally showed heart but Bradley needs to go!
Tuesday June 23, 2009 8:18 am
Congrats, you proved that this team can beat Egypt (who were ranked 40th in the world). I like Michael Bradley and I can understand why he was rankled by the fans calling for his father's job (It was around Father's day after all). But putting emotions aside for a minute. One victory against Egypt doesn't make up for the fact that the U.S. lacks quality away results and Bradley has nearly drained the U.S. player pool. This team doesn't have any real depth because Bradley hasn't consistently called up guys who could help. I'll be rooting hard for this team in the semis. I just hope there's someone else in charge by the Gold Cup.
Tuesday June 23, 2009 12:30 am

This site shows that Bradley is one of the hardest working players in the Confederations Cup.
Tuesday June 23, 2009 12:29 am
David, are you saying Bradley is a lazy cherry picker? I don't know why people continue to say that Bradley doesn't work hard. According to the fifa website, Bradley has covered more ground than any other player through three games of the confederations cup. Here's the website. Check it out.
Monday June 22, 2009 5:15 pm
Anyone who understands the game, understands that Michael Bradley has quality. He is strong on the ball and moves well without it. He is one of the few US players that makes consistently threatens to score in every game he plays. Lastly, he plays his heart out. Competitive sports require passion and I love the fact that he took the criticism personally.

Having said all of that, Coach Bradley has added nothing to this team. The American game is still static and most of our players still don't know how to move without the ball. Field tactics are horrible. Watch carefully when an American midfielder receives the ball. He's lucky to have more than one option on the pass. It's easy to defend one or two options. If his touch isn't absolutely clean, that one option often evaporates. They play with no margin for error. Even with midfielders like Iniesta and Xabi, Spain doesn't do that. Neither does any other top team.

Our players don't mature tactically quickly enough. I don't know how one quickly repairs that, but a different coach seems like one potential fix.
Drew W
Monday June 22, 2009 4:37 pm
I like the fact that bradley took what was said back home to heart. It shows that he obviously really cares and that the American public cares. He also just played his heart out and yea maybe he did save his dads job on fathers day. And you're going to criticize him for being a little upset about it. He was just apart of one of the best results for US in a longtime. I think its ridiculous to criticize him for showing some heart in an interview. Also thats the way he plays. All out ,balls to the wall. Im guessing C. gibson has never played in anything that mattered. And if he knew what he was talking about he would know that regardless of who's the coach, bradley would be in the starting line up. People like you gibson are the ones that bradley is talking about.
Monday June 22, 2009 4:26 pm
You did not prove any critics wrong. one game does not change the past two years of the same, typical, play by our USMNT. I love our players and think they are capable of so much more. They just need a coach who can get the best out of them. Someone who doesn't stick to favorites or say, "it's my way or the highway".

The question that matters is this, "Has the US progressed since 2006"? The answer is NO!!!
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