Posted by Andrew Hush
During the Americans' 2-2 tie against Slovenia, it was interesting to hear that Michael Bradley's soccer hero was Roy Keane. Interesting and not surprising, because there is a lot in the 22-year-old's game that is reminiscent of the Irishman. Intensely serious and focused, Bradley doesn't like talking to the media. He plays on the edge and, occasionally, goes over it. Most importantly, though, he has abundant talent, which is manifesting itself in this World Cup.
Despite the fact that he made his USA debut before his father took over as coach, Bradley's international career has been blighted, at times, by doubters citing nepotism as the reason for his continued presence on the national team.
Bradley hasn't helped himself at times, either. Suspensions ruled him out of the finals of the 2007 Gold Cup and 2009 Confederations Cup, as well as the last group match at the 2008 Olympics, and his temperament is still not totally under control. At the end of Friday's game against Slovenia, angry at Maurice Edu's disallowed goal, he was led away by a teammate as he approached the match officials.
With that rough, though, comes the smooth, which Bradley has shown in front of goal when his country has needed him most. Consider the fact that of the eight times he has scored in internationals, just once -- a late winner in a friendly against Switzerland -- has it been in a noncompetitive match.
Of the others, five came in qualifying for South Africa -- including a pair in the win over Mexico -- while the remaining two have been scored in the Rainbow Nation itself, against Egypt at last year's Confederations Cup and now versus Slovenia. The latest was a strike of which Keane himself would have been proud, a perfect finish at the end of a buccaneering run, which, considering the advanced stage of the game, also spoke volumes of Bradley's stamina levels.
Although he is not yet a totally polished diamond -- perhaps, like his hero, he never will be nor should try to be -- Bradley may be ready to graduate into the upper echelons of the best midfielders in the game. The watching world will surely have been impressed and I would suggest that Borussia Monchengladbach will be getting a call or two this summer, inquiring as to his availability.