The relationship between a coach and his captain is an important one if a team wants to succeed.
New US national team head coach Bruce Arena doesn’t foresee any issues with Toronto FC midfielder and USMNT captain Michael Bradley.
“I think he’s very important,” Arena said. “He’s been the captain and he plays an important position. At his best, he’s a key figure and we’ve got to get him at his best.”
Bradley was named the permanent captain of the team after a disastrous 2015 Gold Cup for the US, and it’s not surprising that he was the recipient of one of the first calls from Arena after the former LA Galaxy coach was hired.
Bradley has earned more than 125 caps for the team since debuting for the team in 2006. Coincidentally, the first came under Arena's supervision during the run-up to the 2006 World Cup.
Arena was fired after a disappointing performance in that World Cup, replaced by his assistant – who just happened to be Michael’s father – Bob Bradley.
Michael became one of the stalwarts of the team under his father’s supervision, scoring the equalizer against Slovenia in the 2010 World Cup.
Arena’s relationship with the younger Bradley is certainly distinct from that of other players, but can be compartmentalized.
“I don’t see Michael Bradley being any kind of problem, I think he’s just an asset and I think we’ll have a good relationship.”
After a couple of years playing various positions, Klinsmann decided to start playing Bradley as an attacking midfielder in the run-up to the 2014 World Cup. He held that position until USA’s loss to Mexico in the CONCACAF Cup.
While the US was able to escape the Group of Death, they did so with historic lows in possession and shot differential. After the loss to Mexico, Klinsmann decided to play Bradley in his more natural position of defensive midfielder. The result was a higher win percentage, more possession and a positive shot differential, though that strategy showed strain during the US’ recent World Cup qualifying losses.
Arena made his thoughts clear on Tuesday: “I think he’d be viewed as a No. 6.”
As for Bradley’s longtime midfield partner Jermaine Jones, Arena indicated that the out-of-contract Jones will need to find another club to continue to see time with the national team.
“Hopefully, he resolves his issues contractually and he’s going to be with a club next year. He certainly still has something to offer. We have to see how he progresses over these next couple of months in terms of a club affiliation, depending on where he ends up I will likely have him in camp in January.”
Jones’ contract with the Colorado Rapids ended following the Rapids’ elimination from the Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs and he said after the game that he will explore all of his options this winter.