Shift­ing gears

Af­ter painful World Cup set­back, Bradley turns focus back to Toronto FC

Cape Breton Post - - Sports -

Michael Bradley hopes there will be another World Cup in his fu­ture.

If there is, the Toronto FC and U.S. cap­tain will be 35 by the time the 2022 World Cup in Qatar rolls round.

“We’ll see,” he said Thurs­day af­ter ar­riv­ing home from Trinidad & Tobago where Tuesday’s shock 2-1 loss, cou­pled with Hon­duras and Panama wins, pre­vented the U.S. from qual­i­fy­ing for the first time since miss­ing out on the 1986 World Cup.

“Time will tell, how things un­fold over the next few months, over the next year. Ob­vi­ously the de­ci­sions will get made at the high­est level in terms of what goes on in­side U.S. Soc­cer. At some point, there will be a clear path go­ing for­ward. And there’ll be time at that point to then have a real dis­cus­sion with those peo­ple to see where it all fits.”

As for that post-mortem, Bradley said he had his views and would share them “in the right mo­ments ... with peo­ple on the in­side.”

In the mean­time he said he would “stand tall and face the mu­sic.”

Bradley, who has won 140 caps for his country, is one of only two Amer­i­can play­ers to play ev­ery minute of the last two FIFA World Cups. The de­fen­sive mid­fielder has also rep­re­sented the U.S. at the FIFA U-20 World Cup and the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

“I can say that play­ing for my na­tional team and rep­re­sent­ing my country has been some­thing that I have al­ways taken a huge amount of pride in,” Bradley con­tin­ued. “It’s given me some of the proud­est mo­ments of my ca­reer and I will con­tinue to work and try to make sure that there are bet­ter mo­ments still com­ing.”

As he did in Couva, Trinidad, af­ter Tuesday’s loss, Bradley called the evening a “per­fect storm”

“We’re not the first country or big country to miss out on a World Cup and we won’t be the last. We had our chance in Trinidad to play 90 min­utes to get our­selves in. On the night, it was a per­fect storm in three sta­di­ums that led to us not get­ting in.”

Fail­ure to get re­sults ear­lier in the round meant there was no room for er­ror.

“We have no­body to blame but our­selves for that,” Bradley said.

A win would have sent the U.S. to the 2018 World Cup to Rus­sia. A draw would likely also have sent the Amer­i­cans to their eighth straight trip to the World Cup with Panama (eight goals) and Hon­duras (13 goals) fac­ing an up­hill bat­tle in goal dif­fer­en­tial.

In­stead the 28th-ranked Amer­i­cans lost to No. 99 T&T, No. 74 Hon­duras beat No. 14 Mex­ico 3-2 and No. 60 Panama edged No. 21 Costa Rica 2-1.

Bradley says the dis­ap­point­ment won’t go away any time soon, say­ing he was “very up­set, dis­ap­pointed, an­gry that we couldn’t get the job done.” But he won’t let those emo­tions carry over into his MLS team’s play­off push.

“It’s not like you just for­get about a game like that or the way things un­folded. But you can’t feel sorry for your­self. You can’t dwell on things be­cause the re­al­ity is there’s no chang­ing it.”

League-lead­ing Toronto (19-5-8) plays its penul­ti­mate reg­u­lar-sea­son game Sunday against Mon­treal (11-15-6).

“As an ath­lete and as a com­peti­tor, you have no choice but to keep go­ing,” Bradley said. “When you play and com­pete at the high­est level, there are no guar­an­tees ever ... The only chance you have is to give ev­ery­thing you have, to spill your heart and your soul into some­thing.

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