Born: July 31, 1987
Town: Princeton, New Jersey
Michael Sheehan Bradley was born July 31, 1987 in Princeton. His father, Bob, was coach of the Princeton University soccer team. When Michael was 11, the family moved to Chicago after his dad was named head coach of the Chicago Fire of Major League Soccer. The family lived in the suburb of Palatine and he played for Sockers FC, one of the top-ranked youth travel teams in the country. In 2002, with Michael as its star midfielder, the team made it to that national championships and finished third.
That same year, Michael was invited to Bradenton, where the Men’s U-17 team ran a residency program. He trained there until 2004, played in six international matches, signed a Project-40 contract with MLS, and entered the league’s SuperDraft prior to his 17th birthday. Michael was drafted #36 by the MetroStars, who were now being coached by his father. A foot injury kept him off the field until 2005, but he earned a starting spot with the MetroStars and played in 30 games. His first pro goal was a dramatic one—a header against Chivas USA that sent the team to the playoffs.
Michael entered MLS at a time when the league was open to the idea of sending its best young players abroad to “incubate” with European clubs. Even so, at his age it was unusual for player to head overseas. Because he was more mature than his years, he was transferred to the Dutch club Heerenveen at the age of 18. His fine play helped the club earn a UEFA Cup berth. The following season, 2006–07, Mitchell became the central midfielder and scored 18 goals—16 in league play. It set a new record for an American playing for a first-division European team.
In 2006, Michael started training with the U.S. national team. He made his first international appearance against Venezuela in a friendly match that May. Near the end of 2006, Michael’ father was appointed to coach the men’s World Cup squad. Playing for his dad, Michael became Team USA’ field general. He starred during the U.S. victory in the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup, and started every match in the U-20 World Cup. Michael also scored his first senior international goal, in a friendly with Switzerland. He was named US Soccer’s Young Athlete of the Year.
Michael played for several more top clubs in the years that followed, including Borussia Mönchengladbach—a first-rate team in the German Bundesliga—Aston Villa of England’s Premier League, and two Italian clubs, Chievo Verona and Roma. He joined Roma for the 2012–13 season.
Bobby was a key member of the 2010 World Cup team for the U.S. and scored a game-tying goal against Slovenia during the tournament. A couple of months later, he was named team captain for a match against Brazil.