USMNT captain Michael Bradley opens up in candid interview: "I'm harder on myself than everyone"

Michael Bradley - USMNT - Gold Cup

Michael Bradley is known for his stoic, controlled demeanor, especially when faced with the media's microphones and camera. But the Toronto FC and US national team star gave Sports Illustrated a glimpse of the inner fire – and swagger – that simmers under the surface in a profile released on Friday in the lead-up to Saturday's CONCACAF Cup showdown vs. Mexico (9 pm ET, FS1/Univision/UDN).

Speaking to SI's Grant Wahl in a rare one-on-one interview that took place just before the USMNT's upset loss to Jamaica in the Gold Cup semifinals, Bradley opened up about his hunt for hardware – he's yet to celebrate a trophy win in match uniform in his professional career – and most of all, his frustration with the constant chatter about his optimal position in the TFC and US midfields.

“This eternal debate about my best position honestly drives me crazy,” he said. “Because so many people in my opinion fail to understand what I’m all about.

“I come into any team that I’m on – the national team, Toronto FC, it doesn’t matter – every single time ready to take responsibility, ready to try to put as much on my shoulders as possible in a positive way to help the team be successful and help the team try to win. And at the end of the day it’s up to the coach to decide how he wants to fit that in in a given moment or in a given team.”

Though never known to be cocky or boastful, Bradley seizes readers' attention with a frank self-evaluation that hints at the self-belief required to perform at the high levels he's reached over the past decade.

“I think I’m a complete midfielder. I can attack. I can defend. I can score goals. I can set up goals. I can tackle. I can intercept balls. I can play a more disciplined role a little deeper. I can be more mobile. I can cover ground,” he said. “I think I’m somebody who in the midfield can do anything that’s asked.

“Depending on the team, depending on the game, depending on what’s needed, I’m ready to take whatever is asked of me and spill my heart and soul and blood and sweat and tears into that.”

Bradley also rounded on critics of his World Cup performances in Brazil last summer, where he was shoehorned into an attacking midfield role that many observers believed did not play to his strengths.

“When people want to act like I was so bad at the World Cup, they can get lost,” he said. “Because it’s easy to look and say, ‘Ah, what about this player? Ah, what about that player?’ But does anybody bother to watch all four games from start to finish and see everything that was put on my plate? Everything that was asked? And everything that I was able to do? No.

“What everybody doesn’t realize is I’m harder on myself than everyone. And I’m also not saying I was perfect. Absolutely not. I can and I have looked back at every minute of those games and gone through things I think could have been better or plays that could have been a little bit sharper or different.”

The entire interview is a must-read for USMNT fans, and underlines the steely commitment of the Yanks' captain ahead of Saturday, their biggest match since the World Cup.

To read all of’s coverage of the CONCACAF Cup, visitour CONCACAF Cup page.