Michael Bradley made the shock move back to Major League Soccer yesterday and it is not hard to imagine that U.S. men’s national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann is not a little disappointed in the midfielder. Soccer365’s The Devil’s Advocate looks at both sides of the move and gives honest answers on what should be done regarding Bradley’s short term future with the Stars and Stripes.
The U.S. coach should be worried and needs to make it clear what he thinks is best and expects from his top players and should…
Make A Statement!
Klinsmann has the luxury of job security. The former German international signed a 4-year contract extension last month that will see him in charge of the national team until after the 2018 World Cup and so the thinking goes his main goal is not this summer in Brazil but 4 years from now in Russia.
After Clint Dempsey made the move back to MLS from the English Premier League and the Tottenham Hotspur (and after a hugely successful 5-year stint with Fulham in the EPL), Klinsmann was clearly disappointed in the decision.
“We all hope that, by going back to M.L.S., his own level is not dropping because he is going from the Premier League, one of the best in the world, into a league which is trying to improve every year,” Klinsmann told ESPN in August. “His job will be to keep his level the highest possible.”
Bradley obviously did not pick up on the disappointment of his coach and opted to make a similar return moving from AS Roma to MLS. The move cost MLS a $10 million transfer fee and reportedly will pay Bradley $6+ million per season.
The midfielder surely had great reasons to make his return. He will get regular playing time, probably be the top player on his team and one of the best in the league, his paycheck is something he could not get in any other team in the world.
But it is not a great decision for continuing to develop as a soccer player. The regular competition Bradley faces in every training session and when he gets game time in Serie A is much more beneficial.
Klinsmann’s only concern needs to be improving his team and the best way to do that is to drop Bradley from the U.S. national team. By dropping Bradley (and possible Dempsey), Klinsmann would be giving a clear sign he wanted the players with the talent (Bradley and Dempsey have the talent) to play in Europe when the option is there. This is the only way to make sure those players fighting to earn a place on the national team are solely focused to developing their game at the highest level each and every day.
If our top players are not given the incentive to play overseas we will never achieve the goal of one day winning a World Cup.
US MNT Needs Him, Let Him Play.
Who is the most important player on the U.S. men’s national team? Tim Howard. No, he is a great goalkeeper but Brad Guzan could take hold of the #1 jersey. Landon Donovan. Nope, despite being the all-time leading scorer for Stars and Stripes the side showed they could live without him while he was on sabbatical. Clint Dempsey, maybe but the U.S. has shown he can be replaced if necessary.
Michael Bradley is the most important player for the U.S. side at this time. When he is missing from the central midfield the team just lacks the shape and confidence to play at their highest level.
It can’t be the best news from Klinsmann that Bradley is opting to move back to MLS but the U.S. head coach has no choice but to pretend like nothing happened and keeping calling Bradley and making him the key to the squad.
The U.S. has no chance in a tough group in Brazil to survive if Bradley is not on the squad and short term achievements are more important than long term goals.
And don’t forget how far MLS has come over the past 5 to 10 years. The league has some great talent and Bradley is better off playing domestic soccer than spending more and more time on the bench at AS Roma.
So Klinsmann should not be disappointed his top player is returning from Serie A to MLS but should be excited that he will be getting regular playing time in one of the top leagues in the world.
What do you think Klinsmann should do to stop the return of top players to the U.S.? Does this and Dempsey’s move set a bad example for players to push to make it in Europe?