Michael Bradley: "I certainly paid attention" when Dempsey returned to MLS

Michael Bradley is only days away from making his MLS return with Toronto FC, and he’ll be doing so while facing off against his US national team captain, Clint Dempsey.

Speaking with reporters in Seattle on Wednesday ahead of Toronto FC’s first match of the season against the Sounders (Saturday, 4:30 pm ET, NBCSN in US, TSN/RDS2 in Canada), Bradley talked about his relationship with Dempsey, one that goes back to their days at the MLS Combine in 2004.

“Clint and I obviously have a really good relationship,” Bradley said. “I think everybody is able to see how important he is for not only the Seattle Sounders but for the national team. I think whether he’s been in Europe or back in MLS or for the national team, he’s shown what kind of player he is and how important he is for everybody.”

Dempsey could be credited for a renewed interest in USMNT players returning to MLS. After Dempsey came back to MLS, players like Michael Parkhurst and Maurice Edu also made their way back to the league, which begs the question: Was Dempsey’s return instrumental in Bradley’s decision to join Toronto FC?

“I certainly paid attention when Clint came back last summer,” Bradley said. “But at the end of the day, everybody has to make their own decision. It’s up to each and every guy to figure out in their career and their life what’s best for them. You have to find the right situation where your qualities as a player and as a person are being appreciated and used in the best way.”

Those reasons included the desire to keep his spot in Jurgen Klinsmann’s US roster.

“I was at a point in Roma where I needed a new challenge and was ready for a change of scenery,” Bradley said. “Six months out from a World Cup, it was important for me now to get to a place where they really wanted me, to get to a club where they could see what I was all about, and where I was going to play a really important role.”