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Michael Bradley: A coach's son

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Streeter Lecka

Sports are littered with the children of players and coaches who go on to play professionally themselves.

In addition to winning the gene lottery, these kids grow up around the game so they observe their fathers and teammates, learn and get an understanding of what it's like to be a professional. It's an advantage they will always have on their teammates, whose fathers were bankers, teachers, factory workers or unemployed.

Xabi Alonso, Sergio Busquets, Juan Sebastian Veron, Thiago Alcantara and Giovani dos Santos all came from footballing families. But when it comes to Americans, the athletes with professional fathers who played at the highest level are in other sports, with Ken Griffey Jr., Barry Bonds, Kobe Bryant and Peyton Manning leading the way. A few MLS players, like Edson Buddle and Teal Bunbury had footballer fathers, but they haven't been so good to become regulars for the United States. That advantage of growing up around the game hasn't made an impact internationally for the U.S.

Except for Michael Bradley.

Bob Bradley wasn't a player, but he was a coach and afforded Michael the chance to grow up around professionals and watch them constantly. Unsurprisingly, Michael has been lauded for his commitment to the sport and cerebral play, traits he leaned on even as a teenager.

As MLS continues to age and grow, more and more players will have children. So will coaches. Odds are some of them will put to use their gene lottery winnings and get into the sport themselves. It's unlikely that Michael is the lone torchbearer forever, or even for long. There is something to growing up around the game and as the game matures in the U.S., those fortunate players and coaches' sons will too. Just like Michael.

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