Seattle-area media just got about 13 minutes on conference call with Toronto FC/USMNT member Michael Bradley in advance of his debut Saturday against the Sounders at CenturyLink Field.
"Really excited," he said. "I think when the schedule first came out and everybody on our end saw that we were off the first week, certainly a little bit of disappointment. You get to the end of preseason and everybody’s just so excited to get going, everybody’s ready to step on the field to play for points. Everybody’s ready to start playing for real. I think for us at the moment, we’ve had a really good week of training, and now we can’t wait for Saturday."
On his decision to join MLS and Toronto FC: For me the decision to come back was a lot of things coming together in the right way. I was at a point at Roma where I needed a new challenge and was ready for a change of scenery. Six months out from a World Cup, it was important for me to now get to a place where they really wanted me, to get to a club that could really see what I was all about, where I was going to play a really important role. So for me, the club that was ready to do anything and everything to make it happen was Toronto FC.
On confidence in Toronto FC as a serious MLS club and the challenge of changing its history: “Look, to be honest with you, the fact that they have not made the playoffs and not had much success is something that motivates me even more. This is an incredible city. It’s a sports city. It’s people who love soccer and love hockey and love basketball, and now they’re desperate to be able to support winning teams. I think for anybody who followed Major League Soccer when Toronto FC first came into the league, the support that they had in this city was second to none. Obviously going through an extended stretch of not having much success certainly hurts that. So for me, the potential of this club is incredible: when you talk about having real relevance and importance in a city, having everything there as far as the foundation, an amazing training facility, a beautiful stadium downtown, an ownership that is as hands-on as it comes and are willing to do anything to make sure now we put things right, and really a group of guys who are determined to make sure we get things right for this city. Like I said, it all came together in a way where it was just an opportunity I didn’t want to let go.”
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On playing on FieldTurf: “Look, I think if you ask any player, everybody is going to tell you that they prefer to play on a good grass field. I think soccer is still a sport that’s meant to be played on grass. When you look at the best games from around the world, games played at the highest level, they’re played on grass. But having said that, we all understand that there are certain teams, certain stadiums in this league that for one reason or another have FieldTurf. And look, it doesn’t change anything from our standpoint. It’s going to be a great game. The atmosphere, we know, is going to be really good. It doesn’t change the fact that we’re trying to come in and do everything we can to make sure we come away with a good result.”
On MLS as place for World Cup preparation: “Look, the reality of my situation was I wasn’t sure how ready I was going to be for a World Cup, not playing very much at Roma. That’s why I’m here. That’s a big reason why I’m here, is to be at a club where now I’m going to be asked to have a really big role, where I’m going to be asked to have a lot of responsibility on my shoulders to make sure that this team is successful. And so for me, that opportunity to come and now play every week and be an important guy, I think I’m challenging myself in ways that will mean when the World Cup comes around, I’m as fit and as sharp and as in good of form as ever.”
On concern about USMNT member player in Canada: “None at all.”
On if he visited Seattle when his uncle, Scott, played for Mariners: “Yeah, actually I think the only time I was in Seattle when I was young was when we came out for his wedding. We were out probably a week or so, so I can remember going to the ballpark at different times. The reception for his wedding was in the Space Needle. I think if I remember right, I was young, but I was the ring bearer in his wedding. It’s certainly a city that means a lot to him. It’s where he met his wife: His wife is from Seattle. So, yeah, I remember being out there at that time. … I’m certainly proud of everything that he did and the career he had not only playing for the Mariners but in Major League Baseball. And so have a chance to play in a city that means so much to him, yeah, is certainly a nice thing.”