Because of his dynamic skill set, one of the great dilemmas that occurs with Michael Bradley in the team is how to use him.
When used as the No. 6, the defensive midfielder, Bradley does an excellent job breaking up opponent’s plays, providing a physical presence in the middle of the pitch and getting possession started on the attack.
When playing as a No. 6, Bradley often comes as deep as the center backs to get the ball, which can be a very important role considering that the U.S.’ center backs often struggle in possession.
Also, when Bradley plays as the No. 6, his ability as a deep-lying playmaker (the Andrea Pirlo role) is key to starting the U.S. attack. Bradley plays particularly well in the No. 6 role when the U.S. is outmatched by superior opponents.
The other role that Bradley excels at is the No. 8 role, which is that of the box-to-box midfielder.
This was particularly evident in the U.S.’ most recent games against Guatemala and Russia, in which Bradley’s ability to push forward helped him create chances both for himself and his teammates.
The problem with using Bradley as a No. 8—which suits the U.S. well against weaker CONCACAF opponents—is who picks up the No. 6 role?
In the past, Klinsmann showed a preference to Kyle Beckerman, but Beckerman responded to those opportunities with more than a few underwhelming performances.
Maurice Edu has been frozen out since moving to Stoke City and has picked up a grand total of 10 minutes for his club this season.
Jermaine Jones has a penchant for dangerous play, and Klinsmann seemingly prefers Jones in a more advanced role.
Danny Williams is a promising player and been used in the No. 6 role in each of the U.S.’ last four games, but he has put in some mixed performances.
While not a true No. 10, a role that Klinsmann has attempted to shoe-horn Bradley into in the past, Bradley’s abilities as both a No. 6 and a No. 8 make him absolutely vital to the U.S.’ ability to both generate an attack and score goals.