Bradley embodies fighting spirit of U.S. team

Sat Jun 7, 2014 2:48am EDT
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By Julian Linden

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Every team has a player who embodies the spirit of the side. For the United States, that player is Michael Bradley.

The 26-year-old is the heart and soul of a team that has punched above its weight at international level for years but still wants more.

Capped more than 80 times, Bradley has emerged as the central figure in the team's World Cup plans, marshalling the midfield with dogged determination.

Under coach Juergen Klinsmann, Bradley has been transformed from a defensive midfielder to the playmaker, combining his tactical and technical nous to better effect.

"I have become a more complete player, in every way," he told Reuters after he first started working with Klinsmann.

"It has helped me grow as a player and I'm happy with the progress that I've made. I think there is still a lot of room to grow there though."

Bradley made his international debut as a teenager in 2006 and although he did not make the U.S. World Cup squad that year it was not long before he cemented his place in the team.

The following year, he helped the Americans win the CONCACAF Gold Cup although he was forced to sit out the final after being sent off for a late tackle in the semis.   Continued...

Michael Bradley of the U.S. men's national soccer team warms up before a friendly soccer match against Azerbaijan men's national soccer team in San Francisco, California May 27, 2014. Picture taken May 27, 2014. REUTERS/Stephen Lam