Michael Bradley has announced on Tuesday that Saturday will be his final career match and will retire from professional football after 19 years. He has been one of the longest reigning players to play for Toronto FC, while also changing the sport in the United States. His impact and leadership will not go unnoticed as the young kid from Princeton, New Jersey will now retire from the game at the age of 36.
Here is a look back at his career.
Route to professional football
Bradley’s love for the game was routed by his father, Bob Bradley, who has been a professional coach since 1981. Bradley had the luxury of playing soccer across the country, traveling everywhere his father coached.
Not only was he given residency for the U17 national team, but he was also drafted by the Metro Stars in 2004. At that time, his father was coaching the team. Bradley was just 16 years old when he made his professional debut for the Metro Stars, making 32 appearances while scoring a goal during the 2006 season.
Stint in Europe
A few months after his father was fired from the Metro Stars, Bradley was sold to Dutch side Heerenveen. That was the first time he would play outside of the United States. This was the start of a long journey for him in Europe, while also gaining success with the national team as well.
In the summer of 2008, Bradley was then transferred to Borussia Mönchengladbach. He spent three years in Germany, scoring 11 goals in 81 appearances. This also included a short loan stint with Aston Villa in the Premier League. Following his loan, he was permanently sent to Italy and joined Serie A side Chievo Verona.
The biggest European club he played for in his career was AS Roma, which he ended up signing for in the summer of 2012. He made 46 appearances in a season and a half with them before moving back to the States, ending his six-year career playing in Europe.
Club legend with Toronto FC
Bradley had dedicated more than half of his career to Toronto FC, playing nine seasons in Canada during the golden era of football in the city. It took him about two seasons to bring his team to the top, leading them to the MLS Finals in 2016. After losing to Seattle, Toronto made the finals again and got their revenge on Seattle, beating them to win the 2017 MLS Cup.
Bradley also made the finals in 2019 against none other than Seattle, but this time lost 3-1. During this time of his career, Bradley helped change the game in the league. His presence saw it become more competitive each season while also being a three-time all-star. Overall, Bradley made 307 appearances with Toronto in all competitions, scoring 18 goals.
Icon for the USMNT
Bradley got his first cap for the United States in 2006 during the preparation matches for the World Cup. Although he did not make the final team, he was part of the practice squad during the first year as his father was the head coach. He would soon become a regular starter for the team, leading his team all the way to a second-place finish during the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup.
This has often been noted as one of the best performances by the USMNT in an international tournament, defeating the number one team in the FIFA rankings at the time, Spain, 2-0. From there, he made the roster for both the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, playing under his father until he was fired in 2011.
Bradley played a total of 151 matches for the USMNT, scoring 17 goals while winning two Gold Cup titles. He also spent some time as the captain of the team under Jürgen Klinsmann. His final appearance for the national team was during the 2019 Nations League group stage match against Canada.