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U.S. MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM

June 20, 2014
LOOKING INTO THE MIRROR
Bradely takes a hard look at his play vs. Ghana

By Michael Lewis
Big Apple Soccer Editor

Michael Bradley: "We realized at a certain point that it wasn’t going it be a night for making a million passes or necessarily playing the most beautiful soccer, but it was about run and attack, closing down and making the game hard on Ghana."
Michael Bradley: "We realized at a certain point that it wasn’t going it be a night for making a million passes or necessarily playing the most beautiful soccer, but it was about run and attack, closing down and making the game hard on Ghana."
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
SAO PAULO, Brazil - After a personal rocky and sub-par performance in the United States' 2-1 opening Group G win over Ghana last week, midfielder Michael Bradley admitted he wasn't at his best.

“I’m certainly honest enough and hard enough with myself to know that it wasn’t my sharpest night, but, unfortunately, they’re not all going to be," he said at a Friday press conference at the team's training site at Sao Paulo FC. "On those days it’s still about finding every possible way to help your team.

"We realized at a certain point that it wasn’t going it be a night for making a million passes or necessarily playing the most beautiful soccer, but it was about run and attack, closing down and making the game hard on Ghana."

With a vital three points out of the way in the team's opening game, the rest of the competition is all about getting better and peaking at the right time.

"When you talk about the best teams, there’s an ability to win games in all different ways," Bradley said. "So, the first game was a really big step in that regard for us.

"We want to feel like, now as the tournament is going on, that we are improving and growing because the teams that are around in the end are always the teams that are able to do that. You obviously can’t pick and choose but still, you never want to play your best game first. You want to feel like as the tournament is moving on, the team and every guy is continuing to grow and get better and get stronger. It’s important that we start off with three points, because ... that was the most important thing from that first game.”

The second game will be against Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo in the heat and humidity of Manaus.

Like most if not all of his teammates, Bradley is expecting the Portuguese striker to play, despite all the publicity about his knee injury. There have been unconfirmed rumors that Ronaldo has been ruled out of the tournament.

“A game of this magnitude, of this importance for both teams, you’d always expect that the best players are going to find any way to be on the field," Bradley said. "When you play against good teams, when you play against good players it’s important to prepare in the best possible way. I think we’ve done that. We’ll continue to do that today and tomorrow.

"We understand what a special player he is. We understand how good of a team they have, but it’s not something that fazes us. We’re excited by the challenge, we’re excited by the moment. We feel like we’ve put ourselves in a good position. But still, everybody is mindful of the fact that it’s just one game."

Bradley said that he wanted "to follow up a good start to the tournament with another result. That’s the only thing we’re worried about at the moment.”

An American victory, plus at least a tie by Germany against Ghana, would boost both teams into the Round of 16.
   
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