‘No choice but to keep go­ing’

Af­ter painful set­back, Bradley turns back to TFC

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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 the 1986 World Cup.

“Time will tell, how things un- fold 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.’’

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.

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.

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 but he won’t let those emo­tions carry over into his MLS team’s play­off push.

League-lead­ing Toronto (195-8) 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 best days for soc­cer in this coun­try are still to come.

TFC’S Michael Bradley and the U.S. had their World Cup dream shat­tered with a loss in Couva, Trinidad, on Tues­day evening. Re­becca black­well/the cana­dian Press/the as­so­ci­ated Press

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