Bradley using El Salvador game as learning experience
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (
Trailing 2-0 with just over 10 minutes remaining, the U.S. rode on a wave created by Frankie Hejduk and left San Salvador encouraged by a 2-2 draw. Bradley feels there is a lot to be gained from the match.
"I don't know if learn is the right word," said Bradley of what the U.S. needed to do after the El Salvador match. "What always gets reinforced is that every game is going to be hard, regardless of what it was like last time to play a particular opponent. We haven't had an important game in a while where we fell behind, so the idea is that even if you start the game well, it doesn't mean you'll take the lead.
"The ability to deal with the situation where you're not phased at all, you believe in what you're doing and at that point, ultimately the good feeling of fighting hard as a group, finding ways to create chances and then tying the match and finding ways to win after that, which is what we did."
The catalyst in the match was Hejduk, the Columbus Crew captain, whose lovely cross to Jozy Altidore for the first goal and his own well-placed header for the second were the difference in the match. Bradley understands the importance of players like Hejduk on a team, even at the ripe age of 34.
"There are, in any team, players whose drive, whose competitiveness in a game sets the standard for everyone else," said Bradley of Hejduk's characteristics. "Frankie is one of those guys on this team. When we look at different factors in the game, sometimes on the inside we value a lot players who are competitive, who leave it all on the field."
Hejduk and the rest of his teammates are set to play a gifted Trinidad and Tobago side on Wednesday evening from a not-so-familiar place: Nashville. Despite not being the most recognizable home ground, Bradley reckons the support will still be through the roof come game time.
"It's a great stadium, the field is in terrific condition," said Bradley of Nashville's LP Field. "We expect that there is going to be a great crowd behind us. In qualifying thus far, when we are on the road and come back home, we typically respond really well."
Kickoff for the match is set for 6:57 p.m. ET with the Bradley's men holding a strong edge over the Soca Warriors, as T&T has never tasted victory in World Cup qualifying on U.S. soil in seven tries. If the U.S. manages to win the match, it will remain alone atop the hexagonal phase group.