Bradley is currently the third highest earning player in the MLS, with a $6 million salary and $6.5 million total compensation.
Bradley was born in Princeton, New Jersey, son to Bob Bradley, former coach of the United States men's national soccer team and former manager of Swansea City. While his father was the coach of Princeton University, the family lived in Pennington, New Jersey.
Michael spent his teenage years in Palatine, Illinois, while his father coached the Chicago Fire of Major League Soccer (MLS), and he grew up playing for Sockers FC, who went to the 2002 National Championship and finished third. He later attended the United States Under-17 Men's National Team Residency Program in Bradenton, Florida – the dedicated facility for the training of the Under-17 national team – for four semesters, from 2002 to 2004.
Before leaving Bradenton, Bradley signed a Project-40 contract with MLS, turning professional at the age of sixteen, and entered the 2004 MLS SuperDraft, where he was selected thirty-sixth overall by the MetroStars, who at the time were coached by his father. Bradley did not see any playing time in his rookie season, missing out with a foot injury, but went on to gain a starting spot in 2005, playing thirty out of thirty-two matches for the Metro. Just weeks after his father was fired as the club's coach, he headed in his first professional goal in a dramatic victory over Chivas USA on the last day of the 2005 season, sending the team to the playoffs.
In January 2006, Bradley became the youngest MLS player to ever be sold when he was transferred to Heerenveen for $250,000 and a portion of any sell-on fee His first start for the Dutch club came on April 16, 2006, in a match against AZ. He found success early, earning four starts and helping the club to a coveted UEFA Cup spot in his first half-season. Upon the retirement of Paul Bosvelt after the 2006–07 season, Bradley took the veteran's starting place in central midfield. Bradley scored sixteen Eredivisie goals and twenty in all competitions during the 2007–08 season.
In January 2008, Bradley broke the record for the most goals scored in a single season by an American soccer player playing in a European first division, which was previously held by Brian McBride with his thirteen goals for Fulham in the Premier League. On January 26, 2008, Bradley extended his record to eighteen, with sixteen league goals.
On August 31, 2008, Bradley signed a four-year deal with Bundesliga side Borussia Mönchengladbach for an undisclosed fee. It was later revealed that Bradley had agreed to a switch to English club Birmingham City on the condition that the club retained its Premier League status. However, they did not and he made his Gladbach debut on September 20 in a loss against Hertha Berlin. On November 15, 2008, Bradley scored his first goal for Mönchengladbach against Bundesliga powerhouse Bayern Munich with an eighty-first minute equalizing header. The game ended 2–2.
Early in the 2009–10 season, Bradley was briefly suspended after an argument with manager Michael Frontzeck over playing time. However, the two later reconciled and Bradley re-established himself as a starter with the club before assisting a goal against Bayern Munich with a one-touch volley pass, and scoring the winning goal on a low free kick against Hannover 96. On January 30, 2011, Aston Villa of the Premier League confirmed via their official website that they were in talks to sign Bradley on a loan deal until the end of the 2010–11 season.
Bradley completed the loan deal to Aston Villa on January 31, 2011. Bradley was paraded in front of the fans at Villa Park on February 5 before kick off of the Premier League match against Fulham. On February 12, Bradley made his Aston Villa debut, coming on in the second half after Jean Makoun was sent off. It was said that Bradley would not join Villa on a permanent basis after Alex McLeish declined to extend his contract.
Bradley joined Italian Serie A club Chievo on August 31, 2011. He made his Chievo debut on September 18, coming on in the second half for Paolo Sammarco. He has been nicknamed "The General" by the local fans. Bradley scored his first goal in Italian soccer in a 3–2 victory over Catania on April 7 to take his side up to ninth in the league standings.
On July 16, 2012, Bradley joined Roma, signing a four-year contract for a transfer fee of €3.75 million. On July 17, 2012, Bradley made his debut for Roma as a starter in a 2–1 victory against fellow U.S. national team member Terrence Boyd and Rapid Wien of the Austrian Football Bundesliga. On July 25, 2012, Bradley scored his first goal for Roma in a club friendly against Liverpool at Fenway Park in Boston. On August 19, Bradley scored his second pre-season goal against Greek club Aris. On August 26, Bradley made his league debut as a starter for Roma in their 2–2 draw against Catania; he picked up the assist in Roma's game-tying goal in the 90th minute. On October 7, 2012, in his first game back after a month-long groin injury, Bradley scored his first goal for the Giallorossi in Roma's 2–0 win over Atalanta.
In late January 2013, Bradley received praise from freelance writer for ESPN.com Michael Cox, stating that Serie A are choosing midfielders like Bradley who "epitomizes the new breed of Serie A midfielder, who's all about energy and hard running, rather than the typical number 10." On May 26, 2013, Bradley started in midfield for Roma as the club fell 1–0 to Rome rivals S.S. Lazio in the final of the Coppa Italia.
On September 6, Bradley was sidelined due to an injury he suffered on national team duty against Costa Rica. He returned to action for Roma on October 27, where he scored a goal against Udinese, the only goal either side scored during the match.
On January 9, 2014, AS Roma announced the sale of Bradley to Toronto FC of Major League Soccer for $10 million. As part of the transfer, the two clubs agreed to a partnership including two friendly matches at BMO Field over six years, and a player development program for Toronto FC players at Roma's training facility.
Bradley made his debut with Toronto in their season opener at Seattle Sounders FC on March 15, 2014, the game ended in a 2–1 away victory with both goals coming from newly acquired Jermain Defoe. He scored his first goal for Toronto three weeks later on April 5 against the Columbus Crew, a game which ended in a 2–0 away victory.
He was named captain prior to the 2015 season.
In the 2016 MLS Playoffs, he helped his team beat Montreal Impact on aggregate 7–5 in a 120-minute extra time thriller in the Eastern Conference Finals, earning Toronto their first Eastern Conference Championship and first MLS Cup Finals appearance.
In May 2006, Bradley was brought into the 2006 World Cup training camp to train with the United States national team. While not a member of the World Cup squad or an alternate, Bradley was on the roster for the three send-off friendlies played before the tournament. He earned his first cap in the May 26 match against Venezuela as a substitute and his second cap for the United States in the following game against Latvia, again as a substitute.
In late 2006 Bob Bradley, Michael's dad, was hired as head coach of the national team, and Michael established himself as a key player for the U.S. during his father's tenure. Bradley earned his first international start on March 28, 2007, during a friendly against Guatemala. He was a starter at the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup and helped lead the U.S. to the title, though he was sent off for a late tackle in the semifinal against Canada. The next month, he started every match for the U.S. at the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup, where he scored the game-winning goal in the 107th minute against Uruguay in the round of 16. He scored his first senior international goal on October 17, 2007, with a game-winner in the 87th minute against Switzerland in a friendly. Following these performances, Bradley was named U.S. Soccer's Young Athlete of the Year for 2007. Bradley had a landmark performance for the national team in a 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Mexico in Columbus, Ohio on February 11, 2009, scoring both goals in a 2–0 victory.
During the United States' surprise run to the final of the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, Bradley scored the second goal against Egypt off an assist from Landon Donovan, helping the Americans advance to the semifinals on goal differential after eventually beating the Egyptians 3–0. He later started in the 2–0 upset victory against Spain in the semifinal, but was sent off late in the game. The resulting suspension kept Bradley out of the tournament final, which the U.S. ultimately lost 3–2 to Brazil. Bradley was later reported to have confronted referee Jorge Larrionda following the match, resulting in Bradley receiving an additional three match suspension to be served during the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Bradley was a key player for the U.S. in the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, starting all four matches in central midfield. In the group stage, Bradley scored the equalizer in a comeback 2–2 draw against Slovenia. He captained the national team for the first time in an August 10, 2010 friendly against Brazil in his birthplace of New Jersey. In the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup Bradley featured in each game in a new midfield partnership with Jermaine Jones, and scored the opening goal in the final against Mexico, though the United States went on to lose 4–2.
Following the Gold Cup loss, Bob Bradley was fired as national team coach and replaced by Jürgen Klinsmann under whom Michael remained a key starter in midfield. He scored a goal on a half volley from 20 yards out in 5–1 friendly victory over Scotland in May 2012, and put in a late equalizer in a 2–2 draw with Russia later that year. He started each game for the U.S. at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
After U.S. Soccer removed the captaincy from Clint Dempsey as punishment for a controversial incident with a referee before the 2015 Gold Cup, Klinsmann named Bradley the national team's new permanent captain.
Bradley speaks fluent English, Italian, Dutch, German and Spanish. He is married to Amanda, a former University of Rhode Island tennis player. The couple have a son, Luca, who was born on September 30, 2012, and a daughter, Quinn Elle, was born on November 17, 2014.
When interviewed and asked about President Donald Trump's Executive Order 13769 by Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl, Bradley initially said that he could understand the need for security, but that liberties should not be sacrificed. He took to his personal Instagram account later that day to further elaborate, saying he was "sad" and "embarrassed" by the ban and Trump's conduct as president.As of match played September 13, 2017
As of match played September 10, 2017
As of match played June 11, 2017
: United States score listed first, score column indicates score after each Bradley goal.
Coppa Italia Runner-up: 2012–13
Canadian Championship: 2016, 2017; Runner-up: 2014
Trillium Cup (2): 2014, 2016
Eastern Conference (Playoffs): 2016
CONCACAF Gold Cup: 2007, 2017; Runner-up: 2011
FIFA Confederations Cup Runner-up: 2009
MLS All-Star (3): 2014, 2015, 2017
U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year: 2015
Fútbol de Primera Player of the Year: 2015