The disappointment of Michael Bradley
January 10, 2014

Tim Howard grew into one of the best goalkeepers in the world. Jozy Altidore broke goal-scoring records. But the one we were proud of the most was Michael Bradley. He had a chance to be something special.

You remember Bradley's tenure with Metro. Cries of nepotism wouldn't stop, but he rose above that. His father was fired, but he pressed on, scoring one of the biggest goals in team history. You could see glimpses back then; this wasn't just your average 18-year-old. His ability to control the midfield at that age was not yet seen in America. His poise and dedication were beyond his years.

Of course, when his father was fired, the writing was on the wall. Michael didn't mind staying with Metro, but the clown in charge, Alexi Lalas, wanted no part of the Bradley gene. So the younger Bradley was dumped off for a paltry $90,000. Chump change, even for 2006's MLS.

So a European odyssey started. First in the Netherlands, where he immediately became a starter -- and then, somehow, a goalscoring threat -- at Heerenveen. Then, a solid stint in Germany, running the midfield for Borussia Monchengladbach. And then, off to Italy, first to Chievo, and then to Roma, where, in one of the country's biggest clubs, he became a starter from the onset. We knew he wouldn't stop at Roma. The potential was unfathomable.

Just not in the way we thought it was. Here we thought that Bradley will become the first American to start for a club like Manchester United or AC Milan. Instead, he is going to be starting for Toronto. The transfer fee is supposedly $10,000,000. Chump change no more.

Oh, we understand why he is doing it. Clearly, Roma's current coach is not exactly a fan, and has signed yet another player who plays Bradley's role. And the money Toronto is offering will set up Bradley for life. Now a father himself, playing in MLS will give him a chance to be closer to his family...

But we're disappointed. Not for MLS -- for the league, this is a terrific move which can only help it grow. We're disappointed for Bradley. Oh, the first time he puts on that useless Toronto shirt at Red Bull Arena, we'll applaud the former Metro. But to see someone who was on a trajectory to be something special take such a giant step back -- at the age of 26 -- is not exactly something we envisioned.

Oh well. We still have Howard and Altidore.

We hope...

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