Breaking Brad

I’ve been watching Copa America 2016 en espagnol.  Not just the USA matches, either.  But what I’ve seen of Team USA’s performances has been rather discouraging.  To my untutored eye, the core of the team’s weakness (but not its only one) is midfielder Michael Bradley.  Too much hesitation in choosing whether to pass or dribble; too many passes directly to an adversary’s boots when teammates are within reach; too many attempts to dribble past a defender with better ball-handling skills than he has, too many clearing kicks that a sprinting winger can’t reach.  At times he almost seemed to be playing (half-heartedly) for the opposing team.  If I were a betting man (I’m not), I’d be wondering who his bookie is.  Why is this guy team captain?  It’s a rhetorical question: I really don’t care enough to know. He’s probably a nice enough guy, but Leo (Durocher) had something to say about that in the context of sport.

So, unlike many Americans –who will only root for a winner– I’ll watch the Copa America consolation match for third place.  I want to see whether or not this pattern of behavior will continue to be evident in a match that doesn’t much matter.  Then I might be able to decide whether Bradley is a player whose cognitive processes and athletic skills begin to break down under psychological stress, or whether alternative hypotheses should be considered.  But I might not blog about my conclusions later.



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