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Bob Bradley lands at tiny Stabaek in Norway
by Paul Kennedy, January 2nd, 2014 6:03PM

TAGS:  americans abroad, norway


[AMERICANS ABROAD] From the high-profile job of coaching Egypt's national team in the middle of a revolution to rebuilding tiny Stabaek that plays in a 7,000-seat stadium in an Oslo suburb, that's the path of Bob Bradley. The former U.S. national team coach, whom Stabaek announced as its new coach on Friday morning, had talked with the Vancouver Whitecaps about their coaching vacancy but told the MLS club he preferred to pursue opportunities in Europe.

Stabaek won Norway's top-level Tippeligaen in 2008 to enter UEFA Champions League qualifying the following year but it struggled, beginning in 2010, and eventually finished last in 2012 to get relegated. Stabaek finished second in the Adeccoligaen in 2013 to earn promotion back to the Tippeligaen after one season in the second division. The 2014 season will start on March 30.


Bradley said at the press conference on Friday that Stabaek is "a football spot where I am really comfortable," and he was excited to help the club rebuild and do something special. Citing Frenchman Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, he said it was important that people from outside come and bring new ideas. Except for Englishman Brian Deane at Sarpsborg, all the other coaches in the 16-team Tippeligaen are either Norwegian or Swedish.

"I am not simply working with first team," he said, "but I also want to make sure that I have an idea what's going on through the entire club."

Bradley, who replaces Norwegian Petter Belsvik at Stabaek, had spent his entire coaching career in the United States before moving to Egypt in 2011 after being fired as U.S. national team coach. He said he was familiar with Stabaek from his days following national team players playing in Norway. He said he planned keeping its core of youngsters but will be looking to add some experienced players.

Bradley was the head coach at his alma mater Princeton before serving as an assistant coach at D.C. United under Bruce Arena for its championship seasons in 1996 and 1997. Bradley led the Chicago Fire to a league and cup double in its first MLS season in 1998 and later coached the MetroStars and Chivas USA before succeeding Arena as national team coach in 2007.

Bradley led the USA to the Gold Cup title in 2007 and second place at the 2009 Confederations Cup. His contract was renewed after the USA won its group at the 2010 World Cup, but he was replaced by Jurgen Klinsmann after the USA lost to Mexico, 4-2, in the 2011 Gold Cup final.

Bradley led Egypt to the final round of African qualifying for the 2014 World Cup before the Pharaohs fell to Ghana. He was the subject of widespread scrutiny in Egypt and gained worldwide media attention for his efforts to lead Egypt to the World Cup in the midst of the turmoil that following the 2011 uprising.

Egypt overcame numerous obstacles -- most notably, the closure of the national league in the aftermath of the death of dozens of fans at a league match in Port Said in February 2012 -- to make the final round of qualifying. Unlike the other major African soccer nations, Egypt does not mostly rely on European-born or based players so the cancellation of the national league had a big impact on the national team.

Bradley kept the team in training and found friendly matches to keep the players active. A military coup to overthrow the Muslim Brotherhood government of Mohamed Morsi last summer further complicated Bradley's task of keeping the team united.

  1. Fingers Crossed
    commented on: January 3, 2014 at 9:16 a.m.
    I understand the inclination by Bradley to work your way up the chain but he has coached in MLS (which is a bigger league than Norway's) AND two national teams. Additionally, he has been successful at each stop. To me, this is a step down in terms of prestige. He seems way over qualified for this job. Look at the coaches in the bottom half of the Premier League. You mean to tell me that Gus Poyet, Tony Pulis and Sam Allardyce are better coaches than Bradley? I'm not buying it. The bias against American coaches from the big leagues in Europe is even greater than the bias against American players. I was not a big fan of Bradley as the USMNT coach but the guy is a good manager and if anyone can make lemonade out of lemons, he can. You will ever be able to say that Bob Bradley didn't pay his dues.

  1. Gus Keri
    commented on: January 3, 2014 at 1:05 p.m.
    Being a good coach in the USA or Egypt doesn't mean he is going to be a good coach in Europe. He needs to be tested in Europe itself. It's a stepping stone to a bigger club. Although it's a one step backward but, hopefully, it will lead to a many steps forward.

  1. Eric in DC
    commented on: January 3, 2014 at 6:39 p.m.
    If he's as good as we think, he'll move on in a few years. In the meantime, he can become the first American manager to win in a European league and to coach a team in the UEFA Champs League. Any of these is a worthy goal.I wish him great success. Make us proud, Bob!

  1. Gak Foodsource
    commented on: January 3, 2014 at 8:20 p.m.
    huge bias towards american coaches abroad, something Bradley is well aware of. He also has no playing record so he starts off with two strikes. Only way to change that is to take what is offered and hopefully over perform. Allardyce will be fired from more jobs than Bradley will ever be considered because he can keep a team in the premier league.

  1. Paul Pacent
    commented on: January 7, 2014 at 5:36 p.m.
    But he is not the only American ever to coach in Europe. In fact, he will not be the only American coaching in Europe currently. Here are five other Yanks at the helm in the Old World. Dennis Lukens, current, FC Krystal Kherson (Ukraine) – Lukens, who was previously Head Coach of the Bay Area Seals (USL "A" League), Boston Storm (USISL), U-23 National Team St. Lucia and was assistant coach of the MISL's California Cougars, has been in charge of Krystal since September 2012. The club, based in the Black Sea port city of Kherson, plays in the the Ukrainian second division and Lukens took them from Last place (14th) to 7th place in his first 9 weeks. David Wagner, current, Borussia Dortmund II (Germany) – Along with his former Schalke teammate Thomas Dooley, Wagner was one of the original German-Americans to join the US national team, earning eight caps between 1996 and 1998. He was hired in 2011 to helm Borussia Dortmund II, the reserve team of the Bundesliga powerhouse. They are currently in ninth place in the 3.Liga, Germany's third division. READ: Bradley: Americans still "fighting for respect" in European soccer Gregg Berhalter, 2011-13, Hammarby (Sweden) – The current Columbus Crew head coach and sporting director made a splash when he signed with Hammarby in December 2011, becoming the most prominent American head coach in Europe at the time. He spent two years trying to get the Swedish second-division side promoted. After a fourth-place finish in year one, the club sacked him midway through his second year, citing "not enough dividends in the offense." Joe Enochs, 2011, Osnabruck (Germany) – For two glorious, stress-filled weeks, the former Sacramento State midfielder was interim manager for the club he represented more than 350 times as they fought – and survived – a relegation battle from the 2.Bundesliga, Germany's second division. Brent Goulet, 2004-08, SV Elversberg (Germany) – An ex-US international who once helped tiny Tennish Borussia Berlin reach the 2.Bundesliga in the early 1990s, Goulet later took the reins at Elversberg, where he had played at the end of his career, when the club was in the third tier of German soccer. Tim Hankinson, 1991, UMF Tindastoll (Iceland) -- Years before he managed the Tampa Bay Mutiny and the Colorado Rapids in MLS, Hankinson spent one season in the Icelandic 2nd division. He brought in former US international Kevin Grimes -- currently the head coach at Cal -- but it didn't help an already struggling side: Tindastoll were relegated after going 1-16-1 and finishing in last place.

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