Michael Bradley set to make friendly return at Wrigley Field
BY SETH GRUEN For Sun-Times Media July 21, 2012 11:38PM
Midfielder Michael Bradley recently signed with Italy’s AS Roma. | Tom Szczerbowski~Getty Images
Updated: August 23, 2012 10:59AM
U.S. national-team midfielder Michael Bradley said that in his more than four years of living in the Chicago area, he never made it to Wrigley Field.
So when he takes the field as a member of Italy’s AS Roma on Sunday in an international friendly against Poland’s Zaglebie Lubin at the Friendly Confines, it will add to the 24-year-old’s career highlights.
“This is special for me, even if you took the Chicago and the Wrigley part out of it,” Bradley said after Roma’s training session Saturday. “Just to be able to step out on the field with Roma is something that’s special to begin with.
“You see how much history is inside [Wrigley Field]. So I think for our team, for our players, right away when you walk in, you sense that you’re in a special place.”
After a stint with Serie A club Chievo Verona, Bradley’s move to Roma, which became official
July 15, is among the most celebrated transfers for a U.S.-born field player.
Bradley, the son of former U.S. national-team and Fire coach Bob Bradley, is known for his defensive ability in the midfield. He should be an excellent complement to an AS Roma team that employs an attacking 4-3-3 formation.
During the 2010 World Cup, Bradley was one of five players to play every minute for the U.S. team and is the fourth-youngest American in history to reach 50 caps.
“This is the biggest opportunity of my career,” Bradley said. “To come to a club like Roma with the passion, the history, the tradition of the club, it doesn’t get any better than this. So for me, I’m going to give everything I have to show everybody — the fans, the players, the coaches — that I’m a guy that can help the team in every way.”
While Bradley will assist Roma on the field, his addition should help the team grow its brand here.
The mandate of the team’s three-city tour of the United States this summer, which includes stops in New York and Boston, is to build the Roma brand.
“Bradley was picked because he’s an excellent player, and it’s a huge benefit that he’s an American,” Roma CEO Mark Pannes said. “But I think at the end of the day our football [operations] guys are pretty calculating in terms of what they need from a quality-of-player standpoint, and they chose him for his skills.”