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Michael Bradley Bullish on U.S. Chances Ahead of World Cup

Representing the U.S. is nothing new for Bradley, but it never gets old and every experience is different.

Michael Bradley has soccer in his blood.

This story first appeared in the June 12, 2014 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The New Jersey-born midfielder, who is considered one of the U.S. national team’s top defensive players, is the son of Bob Bradley, the former coach of the American team. So it’s no surprise that he grew up playing the game. His skill became evident at an early age and he turned pro at 16. Since joining the Metrostars (now the New York Red Bulls) in 2004, Bradley has played professionally in the States, Europe and Canada, and participated in both the 2010 World Cup as well as the 2008 Olympic Games. He’s now on Major League Soccer’s Toronto FC team.

Despite his storied career, Bradley is excited about the opportunity to play in Brazil, a country he’s seeing for the first time.

“The World Cup comes around once every four years,” Bradley told WWD as he donned the official U.S. away uniform at the Nike offices earlier this month. “It’s the biggest sporting event in the world. And with how soccer has grown in our country, there’s a real excitement and buzz around these games.”

Although pundits don’t expect the U.S. team to advance too far in the tournament, Bradley doesn’t agree. “We have as good a chance as anybody,” he said. “At the highest level, games are decided in a moment, [so anything can happen]. It’s going to be very difficult, we’re going to be facing three of the toughest teams in the tournament, but that’s what excites us.” The U.S. is in Group G with Ghana, Portugal and Germany.

Bradley believes his U.S. teammates are among the best in the sport and have congealed as a group. “In a lot of cases, I’ve played with some of these guys since I was 16 years old. And the group gets along. We enjoy each other’s company and have great pride representing our country,” he said.

Representing the U.S. is nothing new for Bradley, but it never gets old and every experience is different. “In soccer, the Olympics is an under-23 tournament, so it’s not the same as the World Cup when each country brings its best team,” he said.

Although neither his parents nor his sister can make trip to Brazil, Bradley will have a vocal cheering squad. His wife, young son and in-laws plan to be there. Bradley, whose demeanor is serious and sober, brightens considerably when he talks about his one-and-a-half-year-old son Luca. “He loves balls,” Bradley said with a smile. “He doesn’t need any encouragement from me.” Luca recently joined his dad and the U.S. team at a practice at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey and “ran around the field at the end,” he said. Pretty soon, though, Luca will have someone to play with. Bradley’s wife Amanda is pregnant again and due this fall. “There’s another on the way in November,” he said.

With any luck, Bradley’s children will be able to travel the globe with their dad and soak up the culture of different countries, just as he has. Bradley said he “loved living in Europe” when he was playing for the Rome team and is also enjoying exploring Canada. “Toronto is a big sports city with big energy,” he said, adding that he has lived and played in countries as diverse as Holland, England, Italy and Germany over the course of his career. “They’re all different, but I’ve enjoyed all the stops along the way.”

Although he’s still under 30, Bradley is mulling what he may do when his playing career is over, a path that may find him following in his father’s footsteps. “I love playing, but I don’t take any day for granted,” he said. “My dad is a coach and I love the game, and I’ll probably want to stay involved, so there’s a good chance that means coaching. But we’ll see.”