Friday, September 2, 2011

An American in Verona: Who's the Flying Ass Now?

This week it was announced that American midfielder Michael Bradley, who was on the outs with German side Borussia Mönchengladbach, managed to secure a transfer deal to Chievo Verona in Serie A, along with a multi-year contract. Bradley, son of former United States National Team Coach, Bob Bradley, will be the only American playing in Serie A this season. He's the first high-profile American to sign with an top flight Italian side since Oguchi Onyewu's recent, but doomed, signing at Milan. The last high profile American player to see serious playing time in Serie A was Alexi Lalas, who played for Padova for a couple seasons following the 1994 World Cup finals.

Bradley, who is coming off a lackluster loan at Aston Villa, has a bit of a reputation of being a red-ass, so it will be interesting if the 24 year old can keep his temper in check as he adjusts to a new team, a new league, and a new culture. Once criticized for a boring defensive style of play, in recent years Serie A has become known for a more aggressive and open attacking style that, along with financial issues, has created a level of parity not found in most top flight leagues in Europe. If he gets some serious playing time, expect to see growth in both Bradley's technical skills and soccer IQ, which will be a benefit to the U.S. National Team.

Not sure about you, but I'm looking forward to the first time Bradley and Gennaro Gattuso of Milan are on the pitch at the same time, which should be on November 27th, assuming the current player strike comes to a swift end. But before that date, we need to see how quickly Bradley gets playing time. If the player strike gets resolved in time, Chievo Verona is set to host newly promoted Novara on Sunday September 11th at 8:00 a.m. central time.

Here's video of Michael Bradley saying hello to the fans of Chievo Verona (note that the club's nickname is The Flying Donkeys):

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