It was announced on Thursday that the TFC captain, who made his 200th appearance in last month’s 2019 MLS Cup Final, has re-signed with the club.
“When I got here six years ago, I talked about how excited, how motivated, how determined I was for this challenge,” said Bradley in a press conference on Thursday, after lifting eight trophies during his initial contract. “I hope I have lived up my end of the bargain to now, but this isn’t just me signing another contract to finish my playing career here in Toronto and enjoy the next few years... no chance.”
“If the last six were Act I,” he continued. “Then I’m every bit as committed and determined to make sure that over the next handful of years we can all together make Act II even better.”
That commitment to the club is “second to none,” according to TFC president Bill Manning.
“He sets the tone every day, he is our engine – I like to say, and he loves to compete – that’s what I love about Michael,” highlighted Manning. “We’re proud to call him our captain. We’re thrilled that he’s continuing with Toronto FC.”
Manning confirmed that the new contract would see Bradley return as a max TAM player for three years, with a club option for a fourth. In addition, the possibility of a role with the organization after his playing days was also discussed.
“I’ll be here, for sure, for three years, and then we’ll see,” said Bradley. “I’ve said on a number of occasions the way that I live my life, take care of myself, my best years are still in front of me. It was important for me – and the club as well – to renew the commitment to each other and make sure it is one that is going to be long term.”
Bradley’s contract opens up a Designated Player spot for Toronto’s front office to fill as the 2020 season fast approaches.
That was one of the selling points for Bradley’s decision.
“It was one of the first things he said to me when we really started getting into discussions,” explained Manning. “Michael said, 'Will you go get another DP?’ I said, ‘Absolutely.’ That was critical. He’s not here to see out the end of his career, he still wants to win, that was important for him.”
Confirmed Bradley: “That was a big drawing point, a big advantage for me.”
“The club is in a position where they can go and get a really, really good player and not have to worry about the salary cap, about the other restrictions that exist,” he continued. “We had a good team last year, but now when you think about the possibility of adding another DP, a guy who can come in and help push us to a new level, that part is exciting.”
“I want to win. To play in more finals, hold up more trophies, play in this stadium on more big nights,” Bradley stressed. “To do that you need as many good players as possible. This gives us the possibility to do that.”
That willingness provides a bonus to TFC.
“We look at it like we’ll have four DPs,” smiled Manning. “I believe there are other teams that would have paid him DP salary. He made the decision that he wanted to continue the journey here, with his family. He’s made it crystal clear: He wants to compete for championships.”
When the season ended, Manning initially set a timeline of getting Bradley re-signed at 7-10 days. It took a little longer than that, though the TFC president stated that this deal had been done for some time before it was announced officially.
Naturally, Bradley weighed his options, but Toronto was the clear choice.
“When you are nearing the end of a contract, you put yourself through the ringer a little bit. You take the time to really think, talk to the people close to you, and really think about where you are in your life and your career, what you’ve done, what you want to still do,” explained Bradley. “It’s important to have moments like that where you’re able to give yourself real perspective, to look inside, to see where you’ve been, but where you hope to go.
“It’s part of the exercise to look around, see what else is out there, talk through different scenarios, but in the end, I kept coming back to the same thing, which is given how long I’ve been here, given the experiences that I’ve had over the last six years, playing here, winning here, it means more.” he concluded.
“It’s pretty simple: this was the only place I wanted to be."