TORONTO – Toronto FC midfielder Michael Bradley found himself in the middle of a heated controversy this week and he addressed it for the first time on Friday.
Before Tuesday's US national team match against Honduras, Jurgen Klinsmann commented on Bradley's decision to move from Serie A side AS Roma to MLS, prompting a response from MLS commissioner Don Garber.
Bradley, however, chose to tune out all the talk in the media.
"I don't pay much attention to it, to be honest," Bradley told reporters about the controversy. "I have thick skin and I have always had the mentality that as a professional you have to have such a commitment and concentration and determination in who you are and what you're all about that you're not willing to let anybody put you off that.”
Bradley joined Toronto FC from AS Roma and quickly became the central figure for the Canadian club. His signing coincided with that of Jermain Defoe and the two players were hyped across the city, raising expectations for the club, which is hanging on to faint hopes of qualifying to the MLS postseason for the first time.
The 27-year-old Bradley says he continues to welcome the pressure.
"As a player it's always the same,” he told reporters. “You want to be at a place where you're valued as a player, as a person, in terms of what you bring to the table every day. There's no doubt that now the opportunity to compete and play every day and step on the field each weekend, knowing that you have a big role to play, that that allows guys to improve."
The TFC midfielder, who is suspended for Saturday's critical match-up against rivals Montreal Impact (2 pm ET on UDN, TSN and RDS), featured for 76 minutes in the match against Honduras, supplying the pass that led to Jozy Altidore's opening goal in the 1-1 tie.
The match was Bradley's 91st cap for his country and he insists that no matter what criticism is directed at him at any point, his dedication and commitment to the USMNT cause will never waver.
"My record when I've played for the national team and my commitment and contribution is there for anybody to look at and take from it what they want," Bradley said. “I've certainly had moments in my career where people have challenged me, said that I've not been good enough, said that I'll never be good enough. But not only has that never stopped me, it continues to motivate me and fuel me even more."
Armen Bedakian covers Toronto FC for MLSsoccer.com.