Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Father and son

No, I didn't talk to the Bradleys recently before writing my piece on them. It's really an opinion column on the situation.

I've talked to Bob about it before, though. He's pretty adamant that he and Michael can deal with any difficulties, and he has a track record to point to of how they've both performed under that pressure before.

It's tricky for the media, I'll admit, and not just for Jeff Bradley, Bob's brother, who covers soccer.

It's a bit too rare and wonderful to have a father and son so closely intertwined at the top level of a sport, especially one where so much is based on preference and perception. I'll admit that I wonder if we as reporters don't look at Michael more critically than if his last name was different.

I've observed a similar phenomenon with Freddy Adu, for example. Because of his hype, many reporters would judge him skeptically.

I remember specifically sitting in the press box watching a match and Freddy pulled a sweet dribble move just as a reporter who was a non-regular passed by.

"Wow," he enthused. "Amazing! Who was that?"

"Freddy Adu," I said.

He shrugged, peered at Freddy over his glasses and his excitement drained away. "It wasn't that good, really."


Matt L said...

Regarding Michael Bradley - he has the potential to be a very good player for the US. He has good size, durability, and toughness as well as vision and savvy beyond his years. His tackles have as much bite as anyone else on the team. He deserves some "run" with the 1st team.

That being said, I have found his performances to be very inconsistent. I am all for possession, but when playing as a 2-way midfielder he passes the ball backwards far too often for my liking. Also, I can recall several times during key moments of the game when he has taken too long to make a decision (I would have accepted a quick back pass in these situations) or had a terrible touch that resulted in a chance for the opposing team.

In other words, he's not the finished product, but at his age this is to be expected. I find myself wondering if he is getting a bit too much time ahead of other players/midfield combos. As AC mentioned, it is hard to separate the Bradley's father-son relationship as I try to evaluate the situation objectively.

Regarding Adu - I feel for the kid as a kid (despite likely $1M+ per annum including endorsements). He's decent - not great. He has some nice touches and through balls mixed in with some dives and obnoxious, exasperated behavior. I hope that Nike never again pushes an early-teen starlet upon the unwitting US public - but I'm not holding my breath.

AC – a story idea for you: the US soccer blogging community is connecting fans and promoting the game in a way never before seen. Have a roundtable with du Nord’s Bruce, Adam from This is American Soccer, David at Culture of Soccer, and a few others.

siva said...

It's unfortunately the case that some of Bradley's choices can be traced back to his familiarity/confidence in certain players, esp. in cases where there are other more "mainstream" or "up-and-comer" choices. Consider these:

(1) Ricardo Clark has been in excellent form lately (the main reason the Dynamo won their last two matches before he went into camp), he is in his third season as a regular starter for his club, and has recently been an MLS All-Star, a starter who played the full 90 against our archrivals (and more than held his own). Bradley, by comparison, is not even a regular starter for his club (admittedly in a stronger league), and hasn't been scintillating by any stretch of imagination. And yet, come Gold cup time, Bradley (sr) picks Michael over Ricardo.

(2) Bradley's strong trust in Bornstein... while almost every position on the roster has some depth, afaik, Bradley has gone with just Bornstein at left back: no Heath Pearce, no Jose Burciaga Jr. Another case of familarity/confidence, I think.

(3) A similar over-dependence on Hejduk over groomin Spector... despite the fact that Spector has been playing in a league somewhat comparable to the MLS (per Alexi :-) and started nearly half the games in the season that just got over.

I am not saying that Michael Bradley isn't a good player, but just wondering that with a similar record, I'd be stunned if some other player had a call-up, much less a starting role in an important tournament.