Michael Bradley is the longest-serving Toronto FC player after Jonathan Osorio and Ashtone Morgan, a pair of southern Ontario natives who rose through TFC’s academy to the first team.
Osorio and Morgan clearly have a strong connection with the club due to their history with the team and their upbringing in the Toronto area. Yet Bradley, who moved to Toronto in 2014, has felt right at home and that was a leading factor in TFC’s captain signing a new three-year deal with the Reds last Thursday.
Even when this new contract expires, Bradley visualizes a future in Toronto beyond that date.
“I can see and envision myself being here long term,” Bradley told Tim and Sid on Sportsnet 590 The FAN on Friday. “Part of the discussion with (Toronto GM) Ali Curtis and with (team president) Bill Manning was certainly that. The idea that at some point, obviously, my playing career will be over and the idea and the intention for both sides is that we’ll continue to find the right way for me to be here and to be a part of the club.”
With Bradley’s resume, not to mention his importance to TFC’s run to the MLS Cup final this past season, there was no shortage of interest in his services as his previous contract winded down.
“Could you have gone back to certain clubs in Europe? Sure. At a certain point, were there some Mexican clubs interested? Yeah. Nothing ever to the point where it was negotiation time or really serious.”
In the end, the desire to stay in Toronto was too great for Bradley to consider those alternatives.
“Part of the exercise when your contract is winding down is putting yourself through the ringer a little bit,” Bradley explained. “Trying to really think about where you are in your life, where you are in your career, what’s important to you, what you want over the next few years.
“As I thought about those things, as I talked about most things with my wife and with my family, again, the pull in Toronto is so strong. Winning here means more to me. Winning here in these colours, in this city, it means more to me than it would to go somewhere else and have some success.”
The quest for that success will begin on Feb. 29 when TFC opens its MLS campaign against the San Jose Earthquakes on the road.