“Can I tell the truth? If I was doing this for you then I’d have nothing left to prove.” These Drake lyrics ring true for Toronto FC captain Michael Bradley. Going into his 3rd MLS Cup final in 4 years, Bradley steered the ship, that is Toronto FC, from obscurity into relevance. Bradley has become a legend in the six for what he has accomplished with Toronto FC, and win or lose this Sunday his number will always be remembered as one of the all-time greats down at BMO Field.

Unfortunately, at 32-years-old Bradley isn’t the player he once was. He is still one of the best defensive midfielders in the MLS, but how can you rationalize giving DP money to an aging CDM in a league that prioritizes offense? The eye test alone will tell you two different stories of Bradley’s season. At times he seems motivated and is one of the toughest players on the pitch. Then there are times when he is making sloppy passes and just looks downright lethargic. Once the season is over, Bradley owes keeper Quentin Westburg a nice steak dinner for the times he’s made a great save off a Bradley giveaway.

Why does all this matter now, you may ask? Well, Bradley is in the last year of his guaranteed contract. He has been notably quiet on what his future holds, and getting designated player money from TFC for his next contract doesn’t seem likely. The fans at BMO hope he will be open to taking TAM money to stay with the club at least one more year. That might be too much to ask if another team makes him an offer to sign on as a designated player.

Plot Twist

However, there is one large twist in this story. Thanks to the boys over at the Athletic, Bradley’s contract has an interesting clause.

Wow. If Toronto FC goes on to win the MLS Cup, Bradley’s contract option will be automatically picked up for next season. That gives Michael Bradley 6.5 million reasons to play his absolute best to ensure that Toronto FC wins in Seattle come Sunday. One game can decide whether he’s making $6.5 million or much less come next season. The pressure is on.

Like I said earlier, he doesn’t owe the fans anything. This games for him. If $6.5 million dollars isn’t enough to motivate you to play your best, I don’t know what will. Let me tell you, it’s going to be glorious to see him lift another MLS Cup when he puts on a man of the match performance and Toronto FC wins 2-1. That’s my prediction, anyway.

If you want more MLS Cup coverage tune into The Soccer Report Podcast as they drop their MLS Cup preview Pod this Saturday. You can find their channel by clicking this link here.