WASHINGTON — US national team and Toronto FC captain Michael Bradley says he's not busy plotting an offseason move to Europe ... but he isn’t shutting down the idea either.
While preparing with his US teammates Monday for Tuesday's friendly against New Zealand (8 pm ET, ESPN, UniMás), Bradley said World Cup qualifying and the the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs are his main focus, despite a Sports Illustrated report earlier this week linking him to Serie A clubs AC Milan and Bologna.
At the same time, he stopped short of pledging his long-term future to the Reds, who will be viewed as one of this year’s MLS Cup favorites.
“That’s football — there’s always things flying around,” Bradley said of the report. “November is obviously on everybody’s mind. And then there will be time as always at the end of the season to figure out to sit down and talk — what went well, what didn’t — and find the right way forward.”
Bradley has an extensive European pedigree, most recently playing with Serie A sides Chievo and AS Roma before moving to Toronto FC in 2014.
A CV that also includes stints in the Eredivise and Bundesliga was once a rarity for the Yanks. Yet on this two-game international break, Bradley has found himself surrounded by young attackers like Bobby Wood (Hamburg SV), Julian Green (Bayern Munich) and Christian Pulisic (Dortmund).
Even so, the 29-year-old midfielder doesn’t believe the national team's vibe has changed all that much since a 3-2 loss to Mexico in a Confederations Cup playoff match exactly a year ago. The US begin the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying home against Mexico on Nov. 11.
“You guys try to make different comparisons and moments, and obviously in a lot of ways we just concentrate on what’s in front of us,” he said. “[Tuesday] night, that means a chance to play a good New Zealand team in a stadium that still has a mystique and an aura about it, and a stadium that I think a lot of us enjoy playing in, knowing that that leads us into two huge games in November.”
Bradley helped Toronto reach the MLS postseason for the first time last year, and they were in the hunt for this year’s Supporters’ Shield until gaining only three draws and a loss from a recent four-game homestand.
But with star playmaker Sebastian Giovinco sidelined for that stretch with a quad injury, Bradley says there is still plenty of reason for optimism heading into the playoffs.
“Honestly, when you look closer at the last few games, I actually think we’ve had some of our best moments of the whole season,” he said. “I think the way that we were able to dominate large, large stretches of these home games I think gives us real optimism. Again, on the flip side of that, we’ve not taken out of it what we should have.”