Toronto FC: Michael Bradley leading by example

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 29: Michael Bradley
TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 29: Michael Bradley /

The United States National Team may not have had success under the captaincy of Michael Bradley during the World Cup Qualifiers, but it’s a different matter for Toronto FC.

Fans across the USA take the National Team’s World Cup failure into account when booing Michael Bradley in each away contest. When he puts on the Toronto FC armband however, it’s a totally different story.

TFC are in another MLS Cup Final. And Bradley’s calm and collective play has been a huge part of the reason why.

The 30-year-old is like the Sergio Busquets of the MLS. Both are relaxed in midfield, great tacklers and ball distributors, along with the ability to determine the flow of the game.

Coaches across the MLS feel the same way about Bradley’s strong play. New York Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch gives his praise to the skipper, as reported by Kurt Larson of the Toronto Sun:

"“I think Michael should start to enter into the conversation for the best American player ever. His game is so complete. He has become such an amazing leader for that (U.S.) team. He’s been fun to watch.”"

Marsch’s statement comes with some credibility, as Bradley’s stats on the pitch show the competitive level within the American.

Bradley has registered over 3,000 minutes this season, boasting a team-leading 88 percent pass success rate. According to WhoScored, the central midfielder accumulates 2.2 tackles and 1.9 interceptions per contest.

The former Roma player has been smooth in the 2017 playoffs. He’s dominated the midfield, forcing teams like the Columbus Crew to send more than two players right in his direction. Yet, that didn’t even stop him, as Bradley made several clutch tackles such as this one:

Bradley had to rush at least 20 yards back to make that game saving tackle. If he doesn’t, the Reds are likely not in the MLS Cup right now.

The never give up attitude Bradley showed in that play and all season long has been reflected on the rest of Toronto FC. Colorado Rapids keeper Tim Howard spoke with the Toronto Star, to note how he see’s the leadership qualities each and every time he plays with Bradley.

"“When you’re captain of your club and captain of your country and the son of a national team coach, there’s a lot of criticism that falls on your shoulders. And I think he’s handled it.”"

Bradley continues to be with the Reds through the thick and thin of the franchise. With loyalty comes rewards, which has certainly been the case for Bradley. Back-to-back Eastern Conference Championships and MLS Cup final appearances isn’t a bad thing to have on the résumé.

Expect much more from the Toronto skipper and the rest of TFC as a result of Bradley leading by example.

Next: Drew Moor – the critical defender

How important is Bradley to Toronto FC? Do you think he’s one of the best MLS has to offer? Let us know in the comments below.