GENOA, Italy — It certainly doesn't take much to get US midfield battler Michael Bradley up for a match. He's made his name on two continents for his intensity and non-stop work rate.
So in Wednesday night's friendly against Italy, expect the veteran to put in his typical hard-running shift.
Bradley, a fiery competitor who's been through one World Cup cycle, knows that matches like this one away to the Azzurri are those that make the best prep for CONCACAF qualifying and beyond.
"The chance to play against a top team like Italy in one of their stadiums, these are the types of games we need," Bradley told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday. "The more comfortable we get in these situations, the better we're going to be."
A lifelong devotee of Serie A, he now works his day job at Chievo, a club located about 125 miles from the site of Wednesday's match in Genoa (2:30 pm ET, ESPN2, ESPN3, Galavision, LIVE CHAT on MLSsoccer.com). As you might expect, Bradley's been hearing the Italian take on the matchup from all sides since the game was announced. And he's eager for the USMNT to offer a proper reply at the Luigi Ferraris Stadium.
"Obviously, for me, it's something special," he said. "I play against a lot of these guys every week. To be able to play against them in an international game and give a good account of our team, it's a great opportunity."
As Bradley is the only American export currently plying his trade in Italy, he's been busy offering scouting reports on Wednesday's opponent to the rest of the Yanks.
"We talk about their team, their players, who's playing well," he said. "It's an ongoing discussion about what to expect from the game and how we can use our strengths to succeed."
With Italy focused on getting their ducks in a row for this summer's European Championship, Bradley is advising his US teammates to buckle up for what he expects will be a friendly in name only.
"There's a big tournament coming up this summer and there's guys trying to fight for spots in the first 11, for spots in the team," said Bradley. "We have to realize coming into this game that it's going to be a motivated team. That's going to bring up the volume of the game and test us."