Former U.S. men's national team captain Michael Bradley announced his retirement on Tuesday, and will cap off his 19-year career when Toronto FC plays their final match of the season on Saturday against Orlando City.
Bradley began his professional career when he was drafted by MLS' New York/New Jersey MetroStars, now known as the New York Red Bulls, in 2004. He soon made the leap to Europe and joined the Netherlands' SC Heerenveen in 2006, the same year he made his debut for the national team.
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While Bradley continued his club career in Europe that included time at Germany's Borussia Monchengladbach, a brief stint at English side Aston Villa, and time in Italy at Chievo Verona and AS Roma, he became a staple for the national team. He started all of the U.S.' games at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups and notably scored during the team's 2-2 draw against Slovenia during the 2010 group stage. He later became the captain of the national team.
Shortly before the 2014 World Cup, Bradley joined Toronto amidst a wave of MLS clubs signing high-profile USMNT players. He enjoyed some of the best successes of his club career with the Canadian side and was one of the standouts on the 2017 treble-winning squad.
The midfielder coupled club success with national team struggles in 2017, the year that the USMNT failed to qualify for the following year's World Cup in stunning fashion. He was a regular during that qualifying campaign, which marked an abrupt end to his international career as the program embarked on a rebuild and turned towards younger players. He last played for the USMNT during the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup.
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Despite the less-than-ideal end to his national team career, he enjoyed several years of consistency at Toronto and goes down as one of the most capped USMNT players ever. He earned 151 appearances for the national team, behind only Cobi Jones and Landon Donvoan, and also won two Gold Cup titles.
Here's a look at three of the most memorable moments from Bradley's career ranked:
3. History with Toronto
Bradley joined Toronto in 2014 as the club aimed to reverse course. Since their first MLS season in 2007, they had developed a reputation for being closer to the bottom of the table than the top, but signed Bradley, as well as the likes of England forward Jermain Defoe and Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar, in an ambitious attempt to level up. It did not pay off at first -- they missed the postseason and Defoe and Cesar left before the next season began -- but the Toronto faithful did not have to wait long to see the plan pay off.
Bradley captained Toronto to three titles in 2017 -- the Canadian Championship, the Supporters' Shield, and MLS Cup. They became the first MLS team to win the domestic treble and Bradley was central to the team's success as an anchor in midfield while Victor Vazquez, Sebastian Giovinco, and Jozy Altidore delivered in attack.
That Toronto team, coached by Greg Vanney, was one of the best in the league for several years. They were the runners-up for MLS Cup in 2016 and 2019, and nearly became the first MLS side to win the Concacaf Champions League when they lost to Mexico's Guadalajara in 2018.
2. 2010 World Cup goal against Slovenia
After picking up a 1-1 draw against England to open their World Cup campaign, the USMNT went down 2-0 before halftime against Slovenia in their second group stage game. The loss would have dampened the U.S.' hopes of advancing to the knockouts, but Landon Donovan scored in the 48th minute to begin a comeback that Bradley completed with his 82nd minute goal.
Bradley's powerful strike from close range meant the USMNT had two points out of two games, laying the foundation for that game against Algeria when Donovan scored in stoppage time to allow the U.S. to top Group C.
You can watch that goal here.
1. 2017 goal against Mexico in Estadio Azteca
When you search "Michael Bradley goal" on YouTube, the Slovenia strike ranks behind only one entry -- the midfielder's stunning goal against Mexico during the USMNT's 2018 World Cup qualification campaign.
Before the USMNT's qualification journey ended in heartbreak, Bradley delivered a memorable moment against his side's longtime rivals at the hostile Estadio Azteca. Mexico were building an attack in the U.S.' half, but Bradley pounced on an errant pass and took a shot from distance, stunning the crowd as he gave the USMNT the lead in the sixth minute.
Mexico eventually equalized through Carlos Vela in the 23rd minute, but the team earned a point from the game that arguably featured the best goal of Bradley's career.