Toronto FC captain Michael Bradley isn't happy about having to choose between club and country.
And he tore a strip off Major League Soccer on Thursday, saying the league needs to respect FIFA's international dates.
The world governing body of soccer designates times throughout the year for top leagues to shut down so international matches can be played. While MLS has taken breaks during the World Cup and Gold Cup, it does not routinely close shop during FIFA windows.
Taking advantage of the Sept. 2-10 FIFA window, the U.S. is playing friendlies against Mexico on Sept. 6 in East Rutherford, N.J., and Uruguay in St. Louis on Sept. 10. But Toronto FC has league matches Sept. 7 in Cincinnati and Sept. 11 in New York against NYCFC.
U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter elected not to call up Bradley or Toronto teammates Jozy Altidore and Omar Gonzalez, citing the scheduling clash and the fact that TFC is looking to climb the standings ahead of the playoffs.
Bradley, who has won 150 caps for the U.S., said he was involved in discussions with Berhalter about the scheduling clash. He also said that MLS has to change.
"It's the worst part about the league, the fact that teams play through FIFA (international) dates," he told reporters after training Thursday. "Because as you're trying to give everything you have for your club team and the national team, there's too many moments where you're missing something.
"It's got to be one of the next steps for the league in terms of respecting the FIFA dates, not playing through summer tournaments. And it always comes back to scheduling issues and all this. I get it but it has to become something where it gets worked around
"Because you can't have the rest of the world respecting the FIFA calendar and FIFA dates and then there's still a full slate of MLS games ... It's not the right way to do things."
While Bradley said he doesn't like missing the U.S. games, Toronto's playoff chase takes precedence.
"I love playing for the national team. I'm very committed to what's going on there and with Gregg Berhalter and his staff. But for right now, for this next period, given how many games we have, given how important the games are here, it's real important that I'm here."
Toronto (10-10-7) stands eighth in the Eastern Conference with seven games to play. The top seven teams in each conference make the playoffs.
The Canadian Press