FRISCO, Tex. – On Tuesday night, the US national team's new captain will join the century club.
When the USMNT take the field for their Gold Cup opener against Honduras (9:30 pm ET; Fox Sports 1, UniMas, UDN in the US; Sportsnet World in Canada), Michael Bradley will join an exclusive fraternity that includes 15 other USMNT players who also have 100 international caps to their name.
“I think it’s a very, very special moment for every player that makes it to 100 caps for his country,” USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said during his pregame press conference Monday night. “It means a lot to the player, and you want to kind of take it all in.”
The match will also hold special significance as it marks Bradley's second as first-choice US captain after taking over for Clint Dempsey. And though Honduras lost all of their matches in group play during last summer’s World Cup and struggled in the year since that tournament, Bradley and the 10 other players who take the field at Toyota Stadium can't afford to relax.
The USMNT will face, according to Klinsmann, a compact team ready to break on the counter at a moment's notice. The Central American squad also boasts fresh leadership in head coach Jorge Luis Pinto, who took the position in late 2014 after leading Costa Rica to the World Cup quarterfinals.
“We’ll face a team that will give everything,” Klinsmann said. “They have very talented individual players on the field that can also harm you in a certain moment. So we have to be on top of our game to win it.”
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Win, lose or draw, the match is still historic for Bradley, who is second on the roster in total caps behind Dempsey, who presumably will earn his 114th against Honduras. Bradley is still 64 caps behind the USMNT record-holder, Cobi Jones.
But he's only 27 years old, meaning No. 100 will be far from Bradley's last in red, white and blue.
“I think Michael is in a stage of his career where he still has a long way to go,” Klinsmann said. “So [there are] many, many more caps to follow the one that comes tomorrow night.”
“He gets a hug from everybody,” he added, “some huge compliments, and hopefully leads us into a game that we win and come away with three points.”