BRIAN SCIARETTA - Wednesday, March 23, 2011
With the US national team camp in Cary, NC is underway, central midfielder Michael Bradley is happy to be back with the team ahead of two friendlies against Argentina and Paraguay.
Like most of the top players with the national team, Bradley has not played with the team since playing against Colombia in a friendly in October. Now after a five month absence, he is happy to be back.
"It's good. It's always good to be back with each other," Bradley told YA. "With the Egypt game getting cancelled we missed some time but we are here for a few days now. Guys really enjoy being back and being on the national team."
The games next week against two premier South American teams will mark a tough test for the US national team but it is all part of an increased effort in recent years to schedule higher profile friendlies than had been done in the past.
"In the last cycle they really made a point of getting us a lot of good games," Bradley stated. "These games are no different. These will be two great games for us."
For Bradley and many of the other veterans of the team, camp opened on a difficult note when Bolton Wanders announced that US midfielder Stuart Holden's knee injury over the weekend would sideline the American for six months.
"First and foremost you just feel bad for Stuart," Bradley said somberly. "He's a close friend of all of ours. That's the main thing on all of our minds at the moment. To see the season he was having and then see this, we feel bad and we wish him the speediest of recoveries. We will all be thinking about him."
At just 23, Bradley is looking to grow into a leadership role this cycle within the team. Despite his young age, he has earned 50 caps for the national team and has played in the Olympics, the Gold Cup, the Confederations Cup, and the World Cup.
"I think that's on everybody's mind," Bradley pointed out. "If everyone is trying to take a bigger role, I think that's important. Obviously with being a leader, it starts with what you do on the field. Earning that respect and earning that role. It's what you do on the field and how you help the team win."
As one of the more established players, one of Bradley's new tasks this cycle will be in helping to integrate newer players into the team as his father and US national team head coach Bob Bradley looks to rebuild.
In this current camp, the German-born duo of David Yelldell and Timothy Chandler are making their first appearances for the team and Mix Diskerud, Juan Agudelo, and Tim Ream are making their first appearances with veteran core of the team.
"Certainly over the years we've had lots of different types of guys," Bradley discussed. "I think that when you look at the United States as a country or just our national team, I think that's one of the great things to have guys from all different types of backgrounds."
After getting the chance to observe the new players of the team for the first time, Bradley is confident the different backgrounds will continue to be a source of strength.
"It's a good group of guys," Bradley concluded. "The guys care about each other and they are committed when they step on the field to do everything they can for the guy next to you. Those qualities have served us well and will continue to serve us well in the future and take us to where we want to go."
The US national team will take on Argentina this Saturday in New Jersey then travel to Nashville to face Paraguay on Tuesday, March 29th.