Who Will Be Michael Bradley’s Partner In Brazil?

If one thing was apparent after the 2-2 draw to Mexico, it was that Michael Bradley is the most important player going into this year’s World Cup.  This is something that fans of the United States (USMNT) have known for a long time. After seeing his return to MLS and his performance in last week’s match, it is apparent that Bradley is in top form and the US can be a force to reckon with in the Group of Death. Bradley’s success in Brazil will largely depend on his partner and the tactics played. But who should play alongside him, and how?

Here are 5 Jurgen Klinsmann’s options to consider when deciding who to play with Bradley:

1. Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones

This is the pairing that we have seen the most, and it’s the one the Klinsmann seems to favor.  It is based on a double pivot system where each midfielder plays off each other, covering for one another when the other goes forward in attack.  The problem here is the Jones is not as adept at going forward as Bradley.  At times when Jones goes forward, he fails to complete that decisive pass or is dispossessed in midfield, leaving Bradley to both clean up his mess and be the first line of defense against the opponent’s counter-attack.

I think this partnership could work if they used the tactic deployed last week against Mexico — Bradley at the top of a diamond midfield, while having Jones sit back and protect the centerbacks. This formation would allow Bradley to push into the attack.  The key to this is if Jones is willing to accept this role, and allow Bradley to orchestrate.

2. Michael Bradley and Kyle Beckerman

This partnership is fresh in our minds, and it seems like the one that fans would like to see more often. Beckerman accepts his defensive minded role and flourishes. He protects the centerbacks like no one else in the player pool and consistently completes passes.  The issue with Beckerman is his athleticism and speed. While he looked good last week against Mexico, it will be a daunting task for him to do the same in Brazil.  Mexico is nowhere near the quality that the US will see in the group stages.  Does he have the athleticism to hang with the likes of Mesut Ozil, Toni Kroos, Joao Moutinho, and Cristiano Ronaldo?

3. Michael Bradley and Geoff Cameron

Fans may remember this partnership last summer in Seattle against Panama. Bradley and Cameron looked good together in the midfield.  However this partnership can only happen if a suitable replacement can be found at right-back. Right now it seems that the drop off to Brad Evans and DeAndre Yedlin may be too great.

4. Michael Bradley and Maurice Edu

Another viable midfield option for Klinsmann. While he does have a lot experience, the question about Edu is can he play consistently at the highest level without any lapses.  One mistake can be punished in the World Cup.  After being away from the National Team for over a year, will the May camp be enough time for him to re-integrate with the team? The key is building an understanding with Bradley, that is just as good as Beckerman or Jones.

5. Michael Bradley and Mix Diskerud or Sacha Kljestan

While both players have quality, I see them playing their best against CONCACAF opposition.  I wonder if each can raise their game to a be starter in the World Cup.  Kljestan may have played himself off the team after the Ukraine match, whereas Diskerud maybe fighting for a spot on the bench.

Let us know what you think and what partnership you would like to see in Brazil.

2 thoughts on “Who Will Be Michael Bradley’s Partner In Brazil?”

  1. It seems the real problem is finding a partner for Bradley who is good and has limited weaknesses. J. Jones, fouls too much which leads to yellow cards or worse a red card.

    Beckerman, he did play well vs Mexico but as pointed out in the article it will be tougher vs all 3 of the US opponents. Maybe Klinsmann can set something up to cover or help Beckerman.

    Maurice Edu – good in 2010 but past the prime now.

    Mix Diskerud or Sacha Kljestan – a big NO to both to them. It will be 2010 all over again.

    I think Klinsman will have to have a rotation system and cover help.

    Long term, the US Soccer Fed needs to start developing good backline and midfield defensive players. And don’t use Latin American as the model for that, use the German or Croatian or Serbia models. They develop strong and athletic backline players.

  2. I disagree that “fans” would like to see more of Beckerman paired with Bradley. Some would, many do not. The reasons not to use Beckerman are many and obvious, and there is also no way the US will play a diamond formation like the one employed against Mexico that was decent in the first half but failed miserably in the second half.

    My preference would be Cameron. His experience at center back would provide someone with an understanding of how to help the US’s relatively inexperienced back line. And they are going to need help. Plus, Cameron has showed an ability to get forward when needed and pick out a pass. he is superior to Beckerman in every measurable way.

    But I think JK will stick with Jones, and we’ll cross our fingers he behaves himself and doesn’t leave Bradley hung out to dry too often.

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