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Jesse Bradley | Former Professional Soccer Goalkeeper

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The Truth Network Radio
November 22, 2022 6:04 am

Jesse Bradley | Former Professional Soccer Goalkeeper

Amy Lawrence Show / Amy Lawrence

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November 22, 2022 6:04 am

Former Professional soccer goalie Jesse Bradley joins the show to talk USMNT and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

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We're pleased to welcome former pro goalkeeper Jesse Bradley from Seattle.

And Jesse, I know I had mixed emotions. I had the highest of highs and then the lowest of lows watching the ebbs and flows of this game between the US and Wales. What are your initial impressions, your initial emotions about the US being back on the World Cup stage for the first time in eight years?

It was up before 5 a.m. Pacific Standard Time today, but it was worth it. And then to see the first half where they played amazing. And for the US, we have the youngest team in the tournament. So imagine, again, soccer always teaches you about life.

And imagine stepping onto a stage that you've never been on before. And that's the thing about sports is you get to see people play physically and the teamwork, but you also get to see the sports psychology and how do you handle the next level. And it was fascinating. It was a good performance. But at the same time, not all ties are created equal.

And we left some points out there today. We could have had a victory, but so good to be playing again. OK, if you're not a soccer fan, the World Cup is the biggest sporting event in the world. There's an estimated five billion people they're going to be watching. And over the next month, there'll be an incredible opportunity to watch the sport. And if it's new to you, it might not have as much scoring and it might have the physicality of American football. But what you see in terms of movement off the ball, what you see in terms of skill, what you see out there, there's a reason why it's the number one sport in the world. And I hope that, you know, segments like this maybe help you learn a little more, appreciate a little more about the game and also the people who are representing our country, because that's what they're doing on a world stage.

And it's an incredible opportunity for our country. There's also, you know, it brings a sense of hope and unity. And that's what sports does at its best. Like the nations come together. And in this tournament, there's a bond that happens. And it's just a lot of fun.

So I enjoyed it. And then watch some other games with our neighbors. I'd never been in my neighbor's house before and I got invited. So it's like we're building friendships in our neighborhood around the game, too. That's amazing.

How excited are people? Soccer in Seattle is huge. And looking out there on the field today, we had two guys from Seattle. That's two out of 11 that were on the field.

And so it's not hard for people here to be engaged. The Sounders have about 40,000 a game. Youth soccer is incredible in Seattle. But around the country, soccer is growing. And you see it through MLS and the development, more teams, more fans. You see more kids playing youth soccer. You see the quality of coaching going up. You see kids playing even beyond what they do as a practice.

They're playing in the backyard. And so soccer is growing in our country. And that's a wonderful thing. The women have been outstanding and the women have been ranked first in the world, but the men are ranked about 15th. And so there's still a ways to go. Our best finish in the World Cup. Well, actually, the very first World Cup, we finished third place out of 13 teams. But then back in 2002, we finished in the final eight. And that's our best finish. So we've been waiting for a long time. I mean, when it comes to sports, the U.S. doesn't like to be ranked 15th.

Right. We want to climb higher. This is a team that's got a lot of potential right now. Let's talk about this initial game against Wales, one in which the United States led for the vast majority.

But it really was a tale of two halves. What stands out to you about the draw? When I think about this team, we've never had more players playing at the top level overseas. MLS is ranked, I think, like eighth in terms of the worldwide leagues in soccer and overseas. Now, we have people competing at the top level and a young team and they came out and they put their best foot forward.

It was a phenomenal performance. We got one goal. We could be ahead by more. But this is key in all sports.

There's an element where it's like chess and strategy. And at halftime, Wales, they made a shift and they got much more physical, direct. They made a key substitution and they put us under a lot of pressure. And what was interesting then is our coach didn't make a lot of changes because the first half was so great.

But Bertholter in the second half waited to make changes. In soccer, possession is huge. And that's a stat you want to pay attention to when you watch the World Cup. Who has the most possession? And we started to lose possession in the second half. Now, the midfielders, it's their role to really control the game. And they have a lot of passing, dribbling.

They have incredible skills. And that's where you gain a lot of possession. So as you see it play out, we just didn't regain the possession. And as a result, we ended up giving up a goal. And it was a penalty.

Walker Zimmerman, the player, is a phenomenal player. And he had a really good game. And I was a former professional goalkeeper. And in soccer, there's not a lot of scoring. So when you make a mistake near your own goal and he basically took a guy down in the box, which means a penalty kick, which means that's going to probably be a goal.

And it was. All mistakes are not equal in the soccer field. And when you make a mistake by your own goal, that's part of the psychological pressure that the defenders and the goalkeeper go through. And they were given a penalty kick.

They tied the game. If you said before the game we tie with Wales, you'd probably say, OK, we can work with that. Because, again, the format for the World Cup, eight groups of four, you just have to finish one of the top two teams in your group of four. Wales is a team that's very similar to us in terms of ranking. Next, we play England, who's a high ranking team, and we're the underdog. And then we end up with Iran, the third game.

And hopefully we'll win that one. But typically four points might get you through. And we got one point today for a tie. You get three for a win. Five points is really what you need to get through.

So we got our work cut out for us. This was the game that we could have taken all three points. Tyler Adams is who they picked as the captain. He's young.

It's like twenty three. And already you could see him after the game saying, OK, we got a tie. We got a point.

Now we move forward to the next game. Because there's no time to dwell on past mistakes. And I just think that's a lesson for all of us. Like you can't replay the old tapes.

You can't do the woulda, coulda, shouldas. Like you've got to keep moving forward and you've got to make that shift, that professional mindset. And we got to start thinking about England.

So, you know, it's one of those ties that was tough to swallow. And afterwards, Wales was thrilled. We were a little disappointed because we knew we could have done better. In the wake of Team USA returning to the World Cup stage for the first time in eight years. We're so excited to welcome back former pro soccer goalkeeper Jesse Bradley joining us from Seattle.

It's After Hours with Amy Lawrence on CBS Sports Radio. I got to ask you about the penalty kick and the strategy when you are a keeper. So Matt Turner actually got a hand on that kick from Gareth Bale. But so much power.

There was so much power. How much of it is guesswork? How much of it is prep? How much of it is instinct, Jesse? Right on. Matt Turner is a phenomenal goalie. He made a great save today. And that penalty kick save, he got his finger on it. I always like penalty kicks. Because as a goalkeeper, everyone expects the shooter to score. Wait, wait.

Hold on. Did you just say you always liked penalty kicks? I do.

I do. You know, I always felt more pressure if there's something I'm supposed to do versus something that no one expects me to do. And with a penalty kick, no one thinks the goalie is going to save it. But now, I mean, you can do so much research on shooters in scouting report that you know where that guy usually wants to go. And then there's a lot of cues you pick up on.

So if you like detective mode, penalty kicks are great if you're a goalkeeper. Because you watch their approach, you watch their eyes. Some forwards will try to throw you off with their eyes or with their body movement. And usually there's like a decoy before they go the direction they're going to go. So don't take that first bite, that first bait where they look one way because they want you to shift that way or they lean their weight one way. And I found so frequently they're actually going the other way. So it was fun to kind of get in their heads. And you see goalies, you know, flapping their arms, jumping around, you know, moving, playing games.

People are talking to the shooter. I mean, that's such an intense moment the games decided. There's defining moments in sports, in life, you know, moments you don't forget. And Gareth Bale was clutch. You know, that's a guy that he's one of those players, you know, MLS, they just won the title and he scored the goal.

They were down a man, scored a goal at the end of the overtime so that they wanted a shootout. I mean, this guy's whole career, you kind of go, where is he during the game? And then he just when he shows up, he shows up and he wins the game. And that's Gareth Bale today. He tied the game and you need clutch players.

And there's just something that separates the great ones that when everything's on the line, that's they're at their best. And for Matt Turner, he guessed correctly. He did his homework. He read the situation and he just didn't his his fingertips weren't strong enough. But, you know, as soon as he dove, he put his hands in his he put his face in his hands because he knew he could have had that one.

And it was kind of a microcosm of the game. It was like it was right there. You were right there. You had it. You were tracking and you.

Oh, it went through your hands. But no one expects him to save. It would have been an unbelievable save.

And yet I think if you asked him, he would say, yeah, I could add that one. And great, great moment for Wales. Tough one to swallow for the U.S. I was really impressed with the number of USA chants. Really impressed with the drum, the red, white and blue. And obviously, Wales, Welsh fans were also dressed in red. But what did you think of the atmosphere, this World Cup stage in the Middle East in Qatar?

The 12th man, they play a role. And when you hear that USA chant, I mean, you just get those goosebumps. Oh, I got chills.

And it just picks you up. You're having a tough day. You're not feeling motivated or, you know, the ref didn't make some calls.

Let's just say that happens hypothetically. You hear that chant and it's like, it just fires you up. You feel the support of the nation and you need that as a player. Because there's moments where you're starting to dip a little bit. In the second half, we were dipping and our fans just kept picking us up, picking us up.

And it's electric there. And there is a lot of pride to play for your country. You know, when you play for your club, that's at a very high level. But there's no greater honor for a player than to play for your country. And when you get to represent your country and you put on that red, white and blue, I mean, this is a childhood dream come true.

There's a powerful moment where the coach and he calls the players and he congratulates them because they made the team. And you see the reactions. And for all of us, like we have dreams. We have childhood dreams.

And when you dream something and then it happens, it's surreal. And like you get to play for America on the biggest stage. And so, you know, when you see that atmosphere, if you're not familiar with soccer, there's a lot of passion. There's a lot of singing. There's a lot of dancing.

And what's interesting in Qatar, you know, you can't drink. And people are like, whoa, you can't drink at the game? Like, are they still going to be into it?

Are they still going to have fun? And their passion levels couldn't be any higher. And because it's not about the drink and it's about the game and the love of the game. And soccer culture just carries with it, again, a lot of celebration, a lot of singing, a lot of fan involvement. If you go to the games, like especially in Europe and some of the MLS games, like you're going to feel like, oh, we're standing up. Oh, we're into this.

Oh, we're singing. And also, I appreciate the intelligence because you can tell how a crowd reacts, how well they know the game. And in soccer, you know, they say 80 percent is the movement off the ball. And so there's so many details and strategy and skill and intricacies and intelligent runs. And when a crowd understands soccer, they're clapping for it. They're appreciating all those little elements. And it's a game that maybe it grows on you and it takes a little time for you to say, OK, I'm into it now.

I'm into it. But when you when you're actually in the stadium, you can't miss it because it's palpable. Jesse Bradley played on the international stage in places like Zimbabwe, in Scotland as a goalkeeper at the pro level.

And he's with us now from Seattle after hours with Amy Lawrence on CBS Sports Radio. What are the perceptions, the perception of American players elsewhere? Because in the United States, soccer is not our number one sport.

Yes, we don't have the tradition and the legacy. What's been interesting over the last 30 years, it really started with goalkeepers playing at the highest level. And Americans tend to play a lot of sports, great hand-eye coordination, you know, good size athleticism. And that leads to, you know, leads to really developing awesome goalkeepers. Brad Friedel was one who played in the English Premier League, which is considered, you know, one of the very best leagues in the world.

And he played there for many years. And goalkeepers have been respected. But in terms of the field players, we're now ascending to new levels.

And you see it in terms of performance on the greatest clubs around the world. You see it that our younger players are being sought after by other countries. And there is really an increase in respect for American soccer at this point, which is exciting right now. There's never been more potential. And the quality of play and the young age, the quality of coaching that we're seeing in America now, it's unprecedented.

So it's ascending. If you're buying stock, you buy stock in soccer in America right now. And but yet we're still earning some respect.

And this is an interesting spot right now, I think, in the history of soccer in America, because it's kind of a crossroads and it even ties into coaching and ties into the World Cup. When you are not as strong as the other team, you're going to focus on defense. You're going to retreat more. You're going to build up a solid foundation and shell. And you're going to keep the goal out of the back of the net.

And you're going to play low scoring games. Now, that's what we've done in a lot of World Cups. But now we're kind of in that moment of, do we go for it? Do we get aggressive?

Do we get creative? Do we do a lot of attacking soccer? Which, if you can't sustain it, it leaves you very vulnerable in the back. And I think like when the team was getting ready for the World Cup, we played Japan and we got beat. And I think we showed up thinking, yeah, we're just going to dominate attacking soccer.

It's going to be amazing. And then we realized, oh, actually, that didn't work. Japan scored on us. They beat us in that friendly, that warm up for the World Cup. And so I could see almost like a double take. So the coach, you know, go hard. And with Wales, you saw them in the first half.

They retreated more. And in the second half, they were more aggressive and direct. And it's a coaching strategy.

It's a philosophy. But you're going to see against England, we're going to just naturally retreat a little more. And when you have the quality and skillful players, you can maintain possession.

You can move more people forward. And when you go against the best teams, you don't have to go in any type of defensive shell. And right now, we're really, you know, getting more potential than ever before to attack more attractive soccer.

It's called the beautiful game. And I think, you know, I sure hope we get out of this group stage and then get to compete in those single elimination rounds. And I think we can go toe to toe with some of the best teams. And I'd love to see, you know, the team rise up and play at that level. Because even when we advanced in 2002 to the round of eight, Coach Arenas at that time, he just knew and he had it down. I mean, he had a system down. He had players down that it was going to be strong defensively. And then we'll pick our counterattacks. We'll pick our moments. But I think we have a team now that if they gel, that they could display the quality that we have now with American soccer. Also, the fitness, having the fitness to be able to outlast opponents.

And that kind of brings me to another question, Jesse. We saw a bunch of players go down seemingly cramps and having trouble toward the end of the game. How tough and physical a game like this one between the U.S. and Wales?

That's right. And that, again, brings up the fact that the subs come in sooner. But I'll tell you, there's also some gamesmanship. The part I like least about soccer is the drama, the flopping. You know, and there's so much rhythm in soccer, right? It's not one that you stop the play, you stop the play, you huddle, you stop the play, you huddle.

Another time out. No, it's got flow and rhythm. And you build that up. And when one team has rhythm and they're starting to take over the game, the other team might, you know, you get a small cramp and it looks like a big cramp. You know, your hamstrings a little tight and you're rolling on the ground like you need a stretcher. And part of that is the strategy in the sportsmanship. It's not sportsmanship, but you twist it a little bit because there's gray in every sport and you take advantage of a little bit. And yes, when a player goes down, the game stops for three minutes. You know, they bring out something. The medic comes out and there's just some acting in soccer.

And I'm going to own it and also say that, you know, there are some legitimate cramps, too. Qatar, the reason they're playing is the winter. You know, in the summer, it's one hundred and eighty degrees average in the summer. We had to play in the winter. We never play in the winter. They're still 80 degrees.

Some of their stadiums have better air conditioning than others. So the fatigue is real and you can't simulate a match. I mean, when you're playing with that adrenaline, the first 30 minutes, like you're going to wear out. But, you know, having having said that, it's physical, it's mental.

The U.S., if we can just keep making, this is true in life, it's true in sports. It's the decision making. And so, yes, you need the fitness. Yes, you need the physicality.

But then it's the mental toughness and it's the mental sharpness to make the right and quick decisions when you're exhausted. And that's what we saw play out at the end of the game. And, yeah, we needed some subs. They now allow five subs instead of three. So that's positive and it gives the coach more options, too. Just want to ask you about the teams and the nations that are expected to advance those who are coming into this World Cup as front runners. Jesse, how much has that changed?

How much has the balance of power changed over the course of the past four years? The same great teams are still at the top. And Brazil is standout. France, of course, has incredible players. Mbappe at that age.

He's phenomenal. I think Argentina's hungry. You know, Messi, he hasn't really come through in a World Cup and he's now 35. So I think he knows the clock's ticking. This might be his last. Ronaldo is 37. I know he's motivated.

He's not having a great season at Man U and so he wants to see Portugal go far. Germany is always great. Spain is so skillful. You know, different countries have different styles.

You can appreciate that. Germans, very direct, very technical. Brazilians have a lot of flair. Spain, they control the ball.

Short passes. And you get to kind of pick up on the personality of some of the teams. But, you know, those are the favorites right there. But there'll be probably three or four that surprise and they're in the final eight. They made it somehow.

And those Cinderella's, that's usually who I end up going for. Because, you know, like Wales, they hadn't been in the World Cup since I think it had been like 1958 or something. Canada's the first time in 36 years. You know, the African teams are phenomenal in one sense. And yet they typically don't advance as far. So I tend to pull for them. I played professional soccer in Zimbabwe, you know.

So I like to go for the underdogs. But watching the teams at the top level, it's inspiring. And you see that, you know, if you go to a symphony and the dedication and the way that a whole symphony can work together.

And you just know how many thousands of hours have gone into that. Like when you watch soccer at its highest level and the skills and the trap and the movement, it just blows you away. And you appreciate it more if you know the sport, you played it or you've tried to play it. They're playing at a level that is so far above like MLS. And MLS is, you know, we're grateful to have professional soccer and it's improving, it's strong.

But to watch this, it's like a different game almost. The greatest players are the ones that are motivated, that go far beyond what the coach asks for, far beyond the playing field. They're the ones that do the little things. They do consistently what other people do occasionally. And that's what it takes to perform at this level.

But in most countries, it's number one and there's nothing close. And the teams that are unselfish, it's we more than me, it always shows up in the games. That's what leads to championships. Fired up, although I do now remember all too well the stress and anxiety of watching Team USA play on this level. Because it's seemingly always very tight.

That's the nature of the game, but it's also the way that the Americans play the game. So we are just getting started. Big match against England coming up the day after Thanksgiving. You want to follow Jesse Bradley on Twitter, at Jesse J. Bradley. Former pro goalie on the international stage and lots of experience here in the United States as well.

But also a pastor, speaker, an author, great follow on social. Jesse, it was awesome to just peel back a few layers and we've only got one game under our belt. So thank you, we look forward to talking to you again as this World Cup unfolds. Love your passion for soccer, Amy. You do an incredible job with after hours. Thanks for just being so consistent. And also if anyone wants to connect, talk soccer, talk life, reach out to me. Love to hear from people. And this is just the start of the tournament, so enjoy the next month.

Find some other people, invite them over to your house, have a party. And let's go USA. We want to make it through past this first round. Make some noise in this tournament. Go deep and have a great run.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-22 08:24:34 / 2022-11-22 08:34:40 / 10

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