Bradley says blame for U.S. team stumbles is on everyone's shoulders

United States captain Michael Bradley said the blame for the national team's slow start to the Hex phase of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying is on everyone's shoulders.

Bradley, 29, believes that everyone on the team has let "too many things slip" in their first two matches of the Hex -- a home loss to Mexico in Columbus, Ohio, and an away thrashing at the hands of Costa Rica that ultimately cost manager Jurgen Klinsmann his job.

He told ESPN FC in an exclusive interview: "I think the best way to put all of this is simple and it's that, as a group, in this last stretch we've let a few too many things slip. We've let a few too many things come down too many notches. And that's all across the board, every single one of us."

But despite comments from U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard on Tuesday about a lack of commitment from certain players on the team in recent months -- comments he then qualified on Wednesday -- Bradley said the team is ready to move on under the guidance of new manager Bruce Arena, now in his second stint as national team boss.

"In March, we get another chance to get ourselves back on track, to get back to what has made us, us, what's made us successful in so many big games over the years," Bradley said.

"I think the first week, 10 days of January camp has been very good. I think Bruce has been very clear from the beginning about what he wants, about how he wants to go about it and I think the response from the players has been very good."

The veteran midfielder, who plies his trade with Toronto FC in Major League Soccer, also moved to play down speculation fueled by Howard's remarks that players were being sucked into the blame game in the locker room.

"There's nobody on the inside of the team that's looking around pointing fingers," Bradley said. "There's an understanding that, again, we haven't been good enough lately. Again that's not just one thing, that's the way a lot of different things have come together.

"Obviously and unfortunately that means that the year ends with two bad results. To start off the Hex against Mexico and Costa Rica, it means that Jurgen loses his job and as players we have to take responsibility for that."

The U.S. is preparing for a pair of upcoming friendlies -- on Jan. 29 against Serbia and Feb. 3 versus Jamaica -- before returning to World Cup qualifying against Honduras and Panama on March 24 and 28, respectively.

The results from the two qualifiers will go a long way toward deciding the Americans' fate on the road to Russia 2018, as the team seeks to avoid missing the World Cup for the first time since 1986.