U.S. Soccer teased a photo of Michael Bradley filming a "This Is SportsCenter" commercial at ESPN HQ in Bristol, Conn., last month, and, at long last, the clip is ready for the masses.
Bradley, playing off of the theme of soccer players being accompanied by children onto the field before every game, walks through the ESPN offices hand-in-hand with a child before hilarity ensues. Known for his serious, locked-in demeanor on the field, Bradley doesn't exactly step out of character for the spot. Watch Bradley's acting chops below:
Soccer has become more prevalent on the viral ESPN ads over the years. Bradley joins the likes of Landon Donovan (red carded by a copy machine) and Jozy Altidore (exchanges shirts with Josh Elliott) as U.S. men's soccer players to star in their own "This Is SportsCenter" ads. Both Donovan and Altidore filmed theirs before the 2010 World Cup. Abby Wambach was also in her own ad tied into the 2011 Women's World Cup (with anchor John Anderson faking an injury after bumping into the WNT star), while the U.S. women had Alex Morgan and Hope Solo team for an ad (along with the Miami Dolphins mascot) two years ago as well.
"These SportsCenter commercials, they've become iconic almost," Bradley told SI.com via telephone. "You always get a good laugh when there's a new 'This Is SportsCenter' commercial out. To be a part of one myself isn't something that happens everyday and certainly was a neat experience."
Bradley said that it took a little bit of time to establish chemistry with his acting partner -- not unlike doing so as part of a central midfield tandem -- but that it all came together after a little time.
"Like most little kids, he was a little shy and nervous at the beginning," Bradley said. "After a few hours, after take after take, spending some time with him, he was my little buddy by the end of it. Certainly, as everyone can see, he's an adorable kid and had a great little personality."
Given how past commercials have played off of soccer intricacies, it's no surprise that Bradley's edition stayed within that range.
"It's a cool tradition in soccer that now as you're walking out each player walks hand-in-hand with a little kid," Bradley said. "For all of us there's always certain days where you get into the tunnel before the game and you see the faces on these kids and how excited they are and just the pure joy on their face that now they get to walk onto the field holding hands with one of their favorite players one of their role models, so I think it's something that even before the biggest of games I think it brings us all back down to earth a little bit."
The final scene of the clip holds the kicker, with Bradley coming out of the bathroom as his walking mate waits outside. Bradley turns to take his hand, and the child, understandably, shows a bit of hesitation before continuing on.
"That was the [scene] that we went through the most," Bradley said. "That took a little bit of time, but in the end it was definitely worth it. There's a reason that [that kid] was involved in this, as far as just being able to nail exactly what they wanted. Put it this way, we weren't doing take after take because he was messing up."