The Case Against The Case Against Michael BradleyBeck Barnes6/30/14 2:45pmFiled to: usmnt2014 world cupmichael bradleyScreamer9113EditPromoteShare to KinjaToggle Conversation toolsGo to permalinkPerhaps the most consistent narrative in the weeks before the World Cup was this one: that the USMNT would go exactly as far as central midfielder Michael Bradley would carry them. The idea was shared almost universally among the American soccer media. There was no reason to doubt its viability. AdvertisementAs the most complete player on the U.S. roster, there is little Bradley can't do. He drops perfectly weighted passes in front of streaking forwards. He is calm on the ball in traffic. He is one of the few American players who can create goals out of nothing. His decision making is so steady and reliable that it's easy to bestow upon him that tired basketball trope—that he is an extension of his coach on the field. Imagine everyone's surprise, then, when Bradley stumbled out of the gate at this World Cup. How quickly the narrative changed. He was near invisible against Ghana, the story went. He blew a sure goal and gave away another against Portugal. Then he went out and displayed awful touch in the Germany match. Now here we are, tamping down calls for Jürgen Klinsmann to bench his cerebral star.AdvertisementOne thing the shifting narrative hasn't taken into account is that prior to an April friendly with Mexico, Bradley had never played at the top of the diamond in a 4-4-2 midfield, which is how Klinsmann elected to deploy him entering the World Cup. Bradley took a two-month crash course in learning the new role before the tournament. This new position saw him stationed high up the field in a spot usually designated for clever, creative playmakers. Although he looked comfortable in the role, shining in friendlies against Mexico and Nigeria, it's important to remember this is not his natural position. When he was winning accolades and turning into the USMNT's Next Big Thing, he had done so as a deep-lying CDM, shielding the back line and occasionally swashbuckling into the attacking third to create opportunities.ShareTweet Kinja is in read-only mode. We are working to restore service.