TORONTO – Though there was very little public mention of Michael Bradley’s contract negotiations throughout the season, conversations about his future with Toronto FC have been ongoing.
Both parties hope to have a resolution soon.
“I told Ali [Curtis] yesterday – he’s been keeping me abreast,” relayed TFC President Bill Manning on Wednesday. “I said, ‘Let’s close it in the next week or so.’ There’s a desire on both sides, there are some small things, on both sides, that we’re trying to work out, but we’re in a good place.”
Bradley’s agent and Curtis, the TFC general manager, have been in contact regularly.
“My agent and Ali have been in touch,” said Bradley. “There have been moments where those have been more often, when you go through a transfer window, Ali is busy and so you want to give him the time to make sure he can work and address the immediate needs. We had some more good discussions just before the playoffs, but when the playoffs start, it’s not a priority.”
“There is nothing more to say right now other than that,” he added. “They spoke yesterday morning, the plan is that they’ll, over the next few days, speak again. We’ll go from there.”
Curtis framed them as: “Good conversations, positive conversations.”
“The last time was Monday or Tuesday. Those have been really good. Probably talk to his agent later on today. Confident we can get something done,” said Curtis. “Michael has been a big part of this club for a long time – he means a lot, he’s our captain – we’d like to bring him back.”
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to find a solution very quickly. We’re confident of that,” he added. “Hopefully something soon.”
Bradley did not see his contract option for 2020 automatically picked up after Toronto lost 3-1 to the Seattle Sounders in 2019 MLS Cup on Sunday. A fixture the last six seasons for TFC, both sides spoke of their desire to keep the captain in red beyond 2019.
Whether as a Designated Player or a TAM player is yet to be determined.
“Everything is on the table,” said Curtis, reluctant to label, but indicating it would likely be one of the two. “We’re trying to improve the team in all ways. Get a deal done and then we’ll figure out the designations after the fact.”
Added Manning: “We can work something out.”
A Bradley solution is priority number one for TFC as they enter the offseason.
“He’s the most important, pressing matter,” said Manning. “Like I told Ali, I’d like to see in the next 7-10 days we can wrap it up and that will dictate where we go.”
Bradley is “optimistic.”
“I love it here. I feel so attached to the city, the club, the team, I’m so proud of what we have been able to do,” he explained. “Of the success that we’ve had, but beyond [that] of the mentality and identity that the club has taken on. For me, that, the relationship between the club and the fans, those are special things. I’m really proud to have played a part in that.”
“The older you get, with experience, the more things you see, you realize that it doesn’t exist everywhere,” said the TFC captain, who made his 200th appearance for the club in Sunday’s MLS Cup Final. “People want that, people look for that. It’s easy to talk about, but it’s not easy to find, to have, we have that here. The hope has always been to be here and to be here for a long time. The foundation has been laid in a good way and I want more.”
TFC head coach Greg Vanney too hopes it will “get figured out.”
“Michael has played a huge role in helping us to push the culture forward, to get a winning culture here at the club,” elaborated Vanney. “We’ve had a lot of success over the last five years. There is still success for us to have. Hopefully we can find the right solution and he can be back.”
With six years at TFC under his belt, the possibility of finishing his career with the club has come more into view for the 32-year-old midfielder.
“I said that when I got here and six years on that is even more the case. I still have a few years at a high level to play, but I’m also not dumb – I know that I’m not playing forever and at some point that day will come when I’m not,” said Bradley. “I made the decision to come here knowing that if I was going to finish my career here it was something that I was happy with. The way things have gone, those feelings have only grown.”