Bradley still savors chances with US national team

BY foxsports • October 5, 2011

A match with his professional team in Italy on Sunday, training with his national team in Florida on Tuesday. Sort of a taxing work schedule for Michael Bradley.

He is not complaining.

''You love that,'' Bradley said. ''It's what you dream about when you're growing up.''

The American midfielder is expected to make his 61st career appearance with the U.S. men's national team on Saturday, when it meets Honduras in an international friendly in Miami. Three nights later, he'll be playing in his native New Jersey when the Americans wrap up a quick two-match window with a game against Ecuador.

Bradley, longtime U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard, rising star Brek Shea and 15 others were on the field Tuesday to begin training for the Honduras match. A handful of other players are expected to arrive during the week, including Edson Buddle, added to the team after forward Landon Donovan strained a muscle in his right leg.

''We'd like to see a progression in our work,'' said U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who took over this summer after Bob Bradley - Michael Bradley's father - was fired. ''I think our first two get-togethers with three games combined, we saw a lot. It's a group of players that has a tremendous working attitude and a willingness to learn and a willingness to improve, so we step-by-step try to build something that really prepares us well for the World Cup qualifiers.''

That's why Michael Bradley said he was excited to be back at work early Tuesday, even after playing 90 minutes of Serie A soccer half a world away less than 48 hours earlier.

Still only 24 years old, Bradley probably doesn't qualify as part of any youth movement. He's already lived quite the soccer life: Training in Bradenton, Fla. as a kid, then playing with the MetroStars of Major League Soccer, followed by stints in the Netherlands, Germany, England and now Italy - where he's one of only four Americans in the last two decades to compete in Serie A.

''In little ways along the way, I think it's important to always have perspective and to know what you put into it, to always know where you've come from,'' Bradley said. ''But at the same time, you don't want to take too much time or spend too much time on that, because what's most important is what's going on now and what you can do to make yourself a better player and to continue to move yourself forward.''

This is where Klinsmann enters the picture.

His soccer resume speaks for itself: The German is one of the most accomplished scorers soccer has ever seen, and his personable ways have quickly helped him forge some bonds with his new team. From the start, Michael Bradley outwardly has handled the obvious disappointment over his father's firing well, saying in August before Klinsmann made his U.S. coaching debut that personnel moves are ''part of the game.''

Klinsmann's approach will be simple: Players will make their own choices, and he'll do what he can to show them what he thinks are the right ones.

''I can give them all the information,'' Klinsmann said. ''But I can't give them the inner core. That will kind of decide their own path. It depends really how hungry you are in life.''

Bradley's soccer hunger is rarely questioned.

Never mind that he was thrilled to be up early Tuesday and back on the field, but in the 2010 World Cup, there were times when Bradley seemed to be the best player on the American side.

''It's always great to be with this group of guys again,'' Bradley said. ''The spirit of the team is something special, so that makes up for the travel and all that stuff. It sounds cliche, but you dream about this growing up, to represent your country and play for the U.S. national team. There's nothing better. You enjoy every second of it. You never know how long they'll keep asking you back.''

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