Michael Bradley may be captain of the U.S., but he’s done his Canadian soccer homework.
On Friday, as reporters quizzed him about the magnitude of the Toronto-Montreal showdown in the MLS Eastern final, Bradley reeled off such feel-good moments as Canada making the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, Canada winning the 2000 Gold Cup and the Impact reaching the CONCACAF Champions League final.
“For me, this series is certainly up there with any of those things in terms of big moments in Canadian football history,” the Toronto skipper said. “So I think for all us of who are here and living it and a part of it, you can’t ask for anything more.”
It was typical Bradley, a pro who comes prepared on and off the field.
The two Canadian rivals meet Tuesday at Olympic Stadium in the opener of the two-game East final, with the second leg Nov. 30 at BMO Field. The matchup means a Canadian team will contest the MLS Cup for the first time.
Due to a break for international play, the conference finals come some 16 days after the semifinals. But while most of his teammates counted down the days at the TFC training centre, Bradley and striker Jozy Altidore were on the move — enduring losses of 2-1 to Mexico and 4-0 to Costa Rica in World Cup qualifying play.
The defeats have left U.S. coach Juergen Klinsmann in critics’ cross-hairs — and the U.S. in a hole in the final round of qualifying play in the region representing North and Central America and the Caribbean.
Bradley played in U.S. loss to Costa Rica
Bradley was happy to be back in the club fold, although the national team performances still clearly weighed on him.
“Certainly the way we lost on Tuesday (in Costa Rica) is not something that you just get over, certainly not right away,” said Bradley, who has earned 126 caps for his country. “But part of the job and part of the responsibility is to be able to turn the page quickly and to switch focus right away.
“In terms of the national team, we understand that we let ourselves down in the way that we went about these two games. The reality is we can’t do anything about it until March. And when March comes, we’re going to have to really understand that there’s some urgency now to playing and get some results because our margin of error has got a lot smaller. But there’s nothing else to do in the meantime.
“So now 100 per cent focus and concentration and energy goes to Montreal and making sure that we’re ready to step on the field Tuesday night and go for it.”
Bradley and Altidore both took part in only some of TFC’s training Friday as coach Greg Vanney gave them time to ease back into the club routine.