Why Michael Bradley Deserves to Captain the U.S. National Team

Nathan McCarterFeatured ColumnistDecember 18, 2012

Michael Bradley has shown in 2012 that he is the engine of the United States Men's National Team. That is why he should be donned the new captain of the squad.

Loyalists may say that head coach Jurgen Klinsmann needs to stick with Carlos Bocanegra, but it is time to make the switch.

Bocanegra is a fine captain. He should not lose this status because of anything he has done wrong, but because the U.S. is moving in to a new generation. The torch should be passed from the 33-year-old to the 25-year-old midfielder.

The U.S. is on the verge of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup. With Klinsmann at the helm the U.S. is hopeful to make an impact in Rio. This is not the same team that took the pitch in 2006 or 2010. This is a new era of U.S. Soccer. Bradley is the face of that new era.

The captain of the team should excite the fanbase. For all of Bocanegra's good play he does not do that. Bradley does.

When Bradley was away from the national team this summer it was apparent that they needed him. Drastically. Bocanegra is replaceable, and even more so today than yesterday. Klinsmann has called up numerous young defenders who could even edge Bocanegra out of a job.

Even in the absence of Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey others stepped up and showed they had the ability to contribute. Perhaps not at the same level, but they were serviceable. No one who stepped in to Bradley's shoes came close to filling them. He showed, in his absence, that he is the single most important player on the pitch for the U.S.

Sure, there are other options to anoint as the next captain, but Bradley would be a symbol.

Bradley can shoulder the load of being the captain, and can turn himself in to the unquestioned leader of the U.S. moving forward. Even beyond 2014. That is something that will be needed as the current crop of players age.

He will be the linchpin of the team moving forward. They will only go as far as Bradley can take them. He is a world class player that can bring the U.S. to the next level on the international stage. He should be the first choice to be captain moving forward.

When the U.S. traveled to ninth ranked Russia on November 14 it was Bradley who sparked the team. In spite of poor team play he managed to equalize the match at 1-1 with a 76th minute goal. The team would fall behind again, but never give up. They managed another goal in stoppage time to escape with a draw.

Bradley brings that with him on the pitch. The ability to lead and inspire. He is a gritty, emotional player. He embodies what U.S. Soccer is about.

This would be a symbolic move of where U.S. Soccer is headed. It would give the team a stable captain for the foreseeable future.

Bradley is becoming the face of American soccer, and he should become its captain as the page turns toward a new chapter.