ST JOHN'S, Antigua -- The U.S. national team is preparing for two matches that will determine its fate in World Cup qualifying. Fortunately for the Stars and Stripes, midfielder Michael Bradley is fit and ready to go.
"I feel good," Bradley said before heading to train with the national team at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium. "Physically, I feel fit and strong."
Bradley missed the United States past two World Cup qualifiers against Jamaica with a muscle injury. In those two fixtures, the United States struggled to create quality chances and only scored two goals in the two matches, resulting in a loss and a win. With the late scratches of Brek Shea, Landon Donovan, Fabian Johnson and Edgar Castillo, the Roma star's return is a positive for Jurgen Klinsmann's side. The head coach of the U.S. explained how significant Bradley's impact is on the field.
"Michael, in particular, means a lot to us. He became one of the leaders of this team," Klinsmann said. "The way how he's developed over the past year -- I can't speak to how he did before that -- it's just wonderful to watch. He trying always to make the next step, trying to learn every day."
He added, "To see what he's learned in Italy in such a short period of time is just awesome. He's a fast learner. Having him on board, seeing him in the training sessions, the two that we've had. His vision on the field [is useful]."
Bradley admits that he is still working his way back to fitness but he was happy to play 72 minutes of and score in Roma's 2-0 victory over Atalanta. The 26-year-old revealed that he wanted to make sure that he played in at least one club match before heading into the international break.
"I was really excited to get back on the field," Bradley said. "I was disappointed that the injury caused me to miss some games, especially two big qualifiers.
"Obviously, all along, the goal was to try to get myself back and get a game or two before this international break. I've put myself in a good spot to be able to be here"
The United States is tied on seven points with Jamaica and Guatemala with two games left in the semifinal round of CONCACAF qualifying. The top two teams advance to the Hexagonal. Bradley is looking forward to the challenge.
"For everyone, we're excited," Bradley said. "There are two big games with a lot on the line."
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- Michael Bradley
- Jurgen Klinsmann