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This father-son duo lives football

sports Updated: Jun 20, 2010 02:03 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Dhiman Sarkar
Hindustan Times

Even after a Father's Day gift that came two days early, USA coach Bob Bradley steered clear from talking about his son. It's been that way since 2004 when, as coach of New Jersey MetroStars, Bob selected 16-year-old Michael as a player.

"Honestly, at that point, your emotions are in the game. When you talk at half-time, you are challenging everybody now to give everything they have for 45 more minutes. When the team does that, you feel you have a chance to get back into it. My honest emotions at that time were to see the group, and I was thinking there was going to be a third goal," he said, to a question on how it felt as a father after Michael's equaliser in the 2-2 draw against Slovenia, at Ellis Park on Friday.

Saying he was also happy personally had to be coaxed out of him, almost. That's how it has always been with Bradley senior. For him, being a coach is about putting in place the right environment for the group. Exposing Michael to that environment has been important in grooming the midfielder, who now plays for Borussia Moenchengladbach in the Bundesliga.

In charge of USA from December 2006, it was under Bob that Michael debuted for the national team. That was in 2007 and two years after this, the central midfielder got his first goal in the MLS, ironically after his father was sacked as MetroStars coach.

The father and son are known to live football. Michael's USA team-mate Jozy Altidore once said, apart from their difference in age (Bob's 52 and Michael 22) they are alike in their intensity and involvement with the game.

Maybe, that's why Michael was seen talking to the referee after the game. Maybe that explains why, at the mixed zone, he said, sounding irked, it is difficult to put the disallowed goal behind.

Michael comes from a family which loves outdoor sport. Uncle Scott played professional baseball and another uncle, Jeff, writes on soccer. He has been a lot less taciturn about the relationship, saying he owes everything to his father. Bob couldn't be the personal coach Michael needed, being involved with the country's college soccer programme, but the father and son were always talking even then.

As they aim to be third-time lucky at Loftus Road, having lost to Italy and Brazil in the Confederations Cup last year, against Algeria, Michael will be daddy's darling and more if he does an encore. He would be an important part of a group that typifies the American spirit of refusing to give up that Landon Donovan spoke about. One their coach has strived hard to infuse.