Is Michael Bradley’s transfer from AS Roma to Toronto FC going to be good for his new club? Definitely. Is it going to be good for MLS to have a player of his caliber return to the league? Absolutely. But is it going to be good for Bradley’s career and the U.S. Men’s National Team with the 2014 World Cup fast approaching? Not so much.
Honestly, what in the world is Bradley thinking? He’s 26; he’s arguably the best American soccer player; and he wants to leave Serie A for MLS? It makes no sense whatsoever. Bradley is a great player in the prime of his career, and he should be seeking out the best competition he can find and playing in one of the world’s best leagues. Serie A is one of those leagues, and moving from the top league in Italy to MLS is a massive step down for Bradley.
Even if things weren’t working out for him anymore at Roma and he wanted to move to a team that can give him regular playing time, there’s no need to go back to MLS, much less sign a five-year contract to stay there. There are teams all across Europe that would be lucky to have Bradley and would gladly put him in their starting 11; he doesn’t need to downgrade all the way to MLS to make that happen.
Playing in MLS will significantly affect the level of competition Bradley faces leading up to the 2014 World Cup. It will keep him in good shape and conditioning for this summer’s tournament, which is an aspect that shouldn’t be overlooked, but it won’t prepare him to face the high level of competition the Americans will face as they play in the Group of Death against Ghana, Portugal, and Germany. This problem is compounded by so many of the key players for the U.S. also playing in MLS, such as Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Graham Zusi, Omar Gonzalez, and Matt Besler.
How Bradley could think this is the best move for him is beyond me. Instead of trying to take steps forward, like the USMNT did throughout all of 2013, he is taking a step backwards by returning to MLS. There’s little doubt that this move will be good for MLS, but whether or not it will benefit Bradley and the U.S. this summer is highly questionable.
Bryan Zarpentine is a New York Mets writer at RantSports.com. He also writes frequently about the NFL, College Football, College Basketball, and International Soccer. Like him on Facebook, follow him on twitter @BZarp and add him on Google.