No punches pulled: Michael Bradley calls USMNT whistle-blowers "shameful"

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – US midfielder Michael Bradley levied harsh and unflinching criticism Wednesday at the unnamed players who questioned Jurgen Klinsmann’s tactics and the team’s chemistry in a recent Sporting News article, calling the whistle-blowers “shameful” and calling the entire situation “really disappointing.”

Bradley made the comments following a workout session for the US team at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, one day after the scathing article was released citing 11 anonymous players who called the US head coach’s instincts and communication skills into question following the team’s disappointing loss to Honduras in a World Cup qualifier last month.

Bradley initially told the media Wednesday that were no chemistry or morale problems in camp following the release of the article, but then added that he had read the piece and had strong opinions on those who were anonymously involved.

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“It’s shameful, and it’s embarrassing,” he said. “I think for every guy who has ever played on a team, you give everything you have … and on every team in the world, not every guy is going to be happy. There’s going to be guys who go back to their room and talk with their roommate about things they wish were different. But that’s normal.

“…But you cross a line when you take those thoughts and you take your disappointments outside of the team, outside of the inner circle.”

The article cast an interesting backdrop for the team against an already difficult task on Friday night, when they’ll face Costa Rica (10 pm ET; ESPN/UniMas, LIVE chat on MLSsoccer.com), a team they haven’t beaten since 2005. A matchup against Mexico in Mexico City looms next Tuesday, March 26.

“It doesn’t help anybody or anything we’re trying to do this week,” Bradley said. “When you play on a team you have a chance every day to give everything you have, and part of that means having the [guts] to say things to guys to their face, and having the [guts] to say things in front of the team. I think in those ways, that this is really disappointing that in a week as important as this ... that you’d have something like that happen.”

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Bradley assured that the team hasn’t faced any chemistry issues since the release of the article, and added that the players discussed the article and cleared the air about the anonymous allegations.

Forward Clint Dempsey, who on Wednesday was named captain for the Costa Rica match, said he had not read the article, and largely brushed the controversy aside.

“We did talk about it as a team, but it’s something that doesn’t matter, really,” he said. “It doesn’t matter about the little petty things here or there.”

Added Bradley: “The challenge of every guy is to step on the field Friday night and make sure that for every American watching, that there is no sign of anything that’s gone wrong this week. It’s our job to represent ourselves, to represent our country in a way that makes everybody proud.”