TAMPA, Fla. — Michael Bradley made his return to the U.S. national team on Thursday night, ending his year-long hiatus from international play as he donned the captain’s armband and played the full 90 minutes in the United States’ 4-2 loss to Colombia.
“I enjoyed the part of stepping on the field and competing tonight as much as I have every single time in my national-team career,” Bradley said after the match.
The team Bradley lined up with against Colombia was noticeably different than the last USMNT squad he played with. The American roster for this month’s friendlies is younger across the board.
That inexperience showed itself as the U.S. took their lumps against a star-studded Colombia lineup with James Rodriguez, Carlos Bacca, Radamel Falcao and Miguel Borja all scoring for Los Cafeteros.
Despite the result, Bradley maintains that the occasion will be invaluable as the U.S. continue to bed young players into the program.
“Games like this are an important part of the process,” he said. “Playing on nights like this against good teams and in environments where, in reality, we’re not the home team, that part is important. You play against a team like Colombia that has very good players, if your reading of certain situations, if the way you deal with certain advantages that they have isn’t good enough, then they can punish you. In moments tonight, they were sharper than we were.”
U.S. interim head coach Dave Sarachan praised Bradley’s return to the national team, particularly his on-field leadership.
Try as he might when Colombia roared back into life after briefly losing the lead early in the second half, Bradley couldn’t keep the Cafeteros counterattack from exposing the USMNT back line repeatedly. Sarachan said after the match that he needed more help on either side of him and that Bradley shouldn’t shoulder the blame for Colombia’s three-goal outburst in the second half.
“Michael is still a guy that has played in big games. Nothing fazes him,” Sarachan said. “He’s still a presence and an organizer. On the whole, he had a very solid night. He’s trying to carry himself and do his job, along with making sure that he’s helping the guys alongside him.”