It came as a shock. During warmups right before the U.S.A. World Cup Qualifier against Costa Rica last Friday night, midfielder Michael Bradley limped off the field with a sprained ankle. With news of Bradley going down, his fellow teammates were speechless and manager Jurgen Klinsmann had to frantically insert Geoff Cameron into Bradley's position. Why would this affect the yanks? Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, and other players were all still there. The reason was: Michael Bradley is the heart and soul of the team. The Roma playmaker is a genius in the midfield and is responsible for assisting on many U.S. goals. His leadership and pitch presence are immeasurable.
With Bradley out, the U.S. limped to a 3-1 loss against Costa Rica and kept their winless streak alive in Costa Rica. With no Bradley, Altidore, and Cameron against Mexico for Tuesday's upcoming qualifier against Mexico, the Americans need some of their younger and more inexperienced players to rise to the occasion. Bradley's being ruled out against El Tri means that either Klejstan, Beckerman, or Diskerud will have to step into Bradley's shoes and they aren't easy to fill.
Mexico is in a must win situation against the U.S. in Tuesday's hexagonal qualifer which will be held in Columbus, Ohio. After losing to Honduras 2-1 on Friday and firing Chepo de la Torre over the weekend, Mexico sits 4th in the Hex and their fans are getting nervous. The U.S. must get at least a draw in Tuesday's match or they will start to worry. With Altidore out, Dempsey and Donovan must take over the goal scoring void that will be left.
Missing Bradley is huge. The Chicago native coordinates the squad with his smooth passing and knack for attacking passing lanes. His control over the ball and ability to pick apart defenses is something the U.S. deperately need. Even though Mexico hasn't won a qualifer on U.S. soil in quite some time, it'll be up to less capped midfielders to help carry the yanks and move closer to Klinsmann's goal of qualifying as soon as possible for Brazil2014. It's amazing how losing one player in the midfield can alter a team's game plans and force them to rethink their entire attacking philosophy. The game against Mexico will not be easy. Even though Bradley's injury isn't serious, his presence on Tuesday will surely be missed.