The United States knocked off El Salvador 2-0 Wednesday night in the Gold Cup quarterfinals, and after the match, many had a ton to say about how various players performed and what ratings they should receive. Still, the Budweiser Man of the Match was Omar Gonzalez and while I thought he had a decent game with the goal, I didn’t think he had the best game of the bunch. Eric Lichaj deserves kudos for his first goal for the USMNT but the defense still has some things to work out.
Despite goals from Gonzalez and Lichaj, there was one guy who kept everything together, who kept the engine going and even had an assist in addition to all of the other responsibilities on the field. Michael Bradley was that man, and he is the Man of the Match.
I can already see you formulating your responses on either side of the Michael Bradley debate, because over the past couple years, that debate has been fierce. I love MB90. I think he’s been terrific as our captain, and last night he showed why he’s the best defensive midfielder in our player pool and a must start whenever he’s on the roster. He controlled the tempo of the match, maintained possession and I’m not sure if he even messed up a pass. He made smart, sound decisions with the ball and he kept the offense moving. The USMNT won the possession battle over El Salvador 59% to 41%, and a lot of that was because Bradley knew where the ball needed to go and was terrific in getting the ball there every single time. His long balls were phenomenal, the best being the one on the free kick that ended up in the back of the net thanks to the Gonzalez header. Finally, we’ve talked about controlling the midfield several times the past couple weeks after some shaky performances. Bradley was the calming influence that kept the shape of the attack and kept the ball on our feet. That’s what we needed to score and then hold off El Salvador.
There have definitely been Michael Bradley performances over the past couple years that aren’t much to write home about. However, against El Salvador he had a terrific match, and his influence was prevalent on the field all night. That’s why he’s my Man of the Match.
Who’s your Man of the Match? You going to back the Bradley pick, or is there another player you had in mind? Hit the comments and let’s hear it!