[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 Morsilast summer further complicated Bradley's task of keeping the team united.