Michael Bradley (pictured) will look to play in his seventh World Cup game, when the USA faces Germany on June 26, 2014, in Recife Brazil. (Photo: FIFA via Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, Brazil -- After his star midfielder endured two difficult moments that helped define the 2-2 World Cup draw with Portugal, United States head coach Jurgen Klinsmann defended Michael Bradley.
The Toronto FC standout missed an open net early in the second half and lost the ball in the final minute of stoppage time as the Portuguese equalized only seconds later in the Group G encounter.
“Michael is undoubtedly one of our key players and I think he showed that tonight (Sunday)," Klinsmann said. "He has an engine that is unbelievable. He’s covering up for other players all over the place. His vision and his passing is just outstanding. Here and there it’s not going to be a perfect game all the time. I’m not expecting perfect games from anybody."
On Sunday, the 26-year-old’s evening was defined by a pair of plays at Arena Amazonia.
With the U.S. trailing in the 55th minute, Bradley's six-yard attempt was blocked on the goal line by Ricardo Costa.
In the fifth minute of stoppage time, Varela dispossessed him at midfield and started the scoring sequence that led to his equalizing goal only seconds later.
“The ball popped up, and I was able to make a few quick steps and get there," Bradley said. "It was tight and, unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make a good enough play to keep it for us or get a foul. At that point the ball turns over and it’s up to us to deal with the situation. I put my heart and soul into every game, every time I step on the field.
“There are certainly no regrets in my book.”
Bradley will have the opportunity to bounce back, when the Americans face Germany in Recife on Thursday. A draw or a win will lift the U.S. into the round of 16.
Klinsmann is positive that Bradley will respond in the best possible way.
"I’m absolutely sure that Michael will grow big time into this tournament," expressed the German. "There’s no better stage to do it than in the next game against Germany. Every game you play now is getting bigger, so that’s when you want to see those things coming through."