Bradley turns at­ten­tion back to Toronto FC

Winnipeg Free Press - - SPORTS - NEIL DAVID­SON

TORONTO — 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 and 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 also has 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 said.

“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 Trinidad and Tobago, 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 (11-156).

“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.

“And even by do­ing that, there’s no guar­an­tee that you get any­thing out on the other side. So when things don’t go your way, when there’s ad­ver­sity, you have no choice but to re­spond, to keep go­ing, to keep work­ing, to use it as mo­ti­va­tion. And that’s what I’ll do.”

Bradley and Toronto striker Jozy Alti­dore, who did not speak to the me­dia Thurs­day, ap­peared in 15 of the U.S. team’s 16 CON­CA­CAF qual­i­fiers for Rus­sia 2018.

Alti­dore took to so­cial me­dia Wed­nes­day to apol­o­gize for the fail­ure to qual­ify.

“I am so sorry we let you down this time around,” he said.

The 27-year-old Alti­dore asked U.S. team fans to keep the faith, say­ing “The best days for soc­cer in this coun­try are still to come.”

Alti­dore, who has won 110 caps for the U.S., and Bradley have the sup­port of their TFC team­mates.

Vet­eran de­fender Drew Moor, who won five caps for the U.S. team, said he was “dev­as­tated” for Alti­dore and Bradley “and for all of U.S. Soc­cer.”

Coach Greg Van­ney, who played for the U.S. 36 times, said Tues­day’s re­sults left him “gut­ted” for Alti­dore and Bradley and for the Amer­i­can pro­gram.

“My hope is that what comes out of it is a real hon­est as­sess­ment of where ev­ery­thing is at,” he said of U.S. Soc­cer.

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