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Bradley credits MLS, Europe for USA's success

THE rise of soccer in the United States mirrors coach Bob Bradley's career.

Bradley was a successful manager in Major League Soccer for nine seasons. He was then hired to take over the national team from Bruce Arena in 2006 when Juergen Klinsmann turned down the job. Bradley became the first US coach to win his first three games with victories over Denmark, Mexico and Ecuador.

The bulk of the current team has also made the move from MLS to Europe. Eighteen members of the 23-man US squad at the Confederations Cup are based abroad.

"Our success is a product of many things," Bradley said. "MLS is important in terms of growth. So many of these players began in MLS and that part of it is still important. We have players that then have chosen to go overseas, and the experiences that they get are important.

"As the league keeps improving, as we have more and more players playing on big teams, we continue to have success as a national team playing against top teams. This is the way something grows. There's so many countries in soccer that want to get to the top but there's no way to skip steps. You learn at each step."

Michael Bradley, the coach's son and midfield fixture, became the youngest player in MLS history to be sold when he moved from the MetroStars to Dutch club SC Heerenveen in January 2006 at the age of 18.

Bradley recently signed a four-year deal with German club Borussia Moenchengladbach. He will miss the final after receiving a red card for a lunging tackle against Spain.

It was also the third time in four games at this tournament that the US has ended with 10 men, having also played short-handed in losses to Italy and Brazil.

"We're constantly working with all of our players to play aggressively but also to be disciplined," Bob Bradley said. "Any time a player pours his heart into a game, to see a player lose a chance to play in a final, I think players all around the world understand what that means. That's as difficult and tough as it gets."


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