We continue our exploration of some of the young stars that will be on show in South Africa. Today, Chris Mann introduces us to the USA’s midfield dalisman Michael Bradley.
The son of the United States Coach, Bob Bradley, Michael Bradley has had to endure more than his fair share of accusations of nepotism during his brief international career, but has recently come to establish himself as one of his country’s most important and influential players.
A tenacious and intelligent box-to-box midfield player, Bradley began his professional career as a 16 year-old after being selected in the MLS Draft by the New York Metro Stars – now known as the New York Red Bulls. After a frustrating first season suffering from injuries and being overlooked for the first team, Bradley became a regular in 2005 and impressed with his maturity and apparent tactical intelligence. Having enjoyed two succesful years on the eastern seaboard Bradley was sold to the Dutch club SC Heerenveen in 2006, a team with a global reputation for developing young talent.
After breaking into the first team during the 2006/07 season, the young American became a key player in 2007/08, scoring twenty goals in all competitions as Heerenveen finished fifth in the Eredivisie and reached the qualifying stages of the Champions League for the second consecutive year. Not surprisingly, Bradley’s all-action performances earned plenty of covetous glances from around Europe and it was not long before he was on the move again, joining Bundesliga outfit Borussia Monchengladbach in the summer of 2008 when negotiations with Birmingham City fell through.
Despite a series of strong performances from the American, Monchengladbach struggled during Bradley’s first season, avoiding relegation by a solitary point. This season has proved somewhat more successful, however, with the club set to finish in mid-table, comfortably clear of the relegation dogfight below. With seven goals in 44 appearances this year and having gained widespread acclaim for his performances during the campaign, Bradley’s reputation both as a club and an international player is growing by the day and one wonders just how long he will stay with Monchengladbach.
With a move to one of Europe’s biggest clubs surely just a matter of time, the 22 year-old looks to have a fantastic career ahead of him, something which could be further accelerated and enhanced by a continuation of his excellent form at the World Cup this summer.