[AMERICANS ABROAD] Gregg Berhalter won't the first former U.S. international to coach in Europe, but his hiring by
Swedish Superettan club Hammarby shows that retiring Americans with long and diverse playing careers now make just as good coaching candidates overseas as players from any other country.
He spent six seasons in the Netherlands (six seasons with Zwolle, Sparta Rotterdam and Cambuur), England (one season with Crystal Palace), Germany (seven with Energie Cottbus and 1860 Munich) and MLS (three with the Los Angeles Galaxy, the last as player-assistant coach). His national team career spanned 12 years and included two World Cups.
In contrast to the Galaxy, most of the European clubs he played at weren't big names. Indeed, Hammarby is similar to clubs like Crystal Palace and 1860 Munich in that it's a club with a rich history but it is now mired in the second division.
Still, Berhalter views the move as a positive one as Hammarby is "a club with great opportunities.''
Berhalter's smarts made him an attractive coaching candidate, whether it was at the Galaxy, another MLS club or a foreign team. The connection to Hammarby happened to be AEG, which owns the Galaxy and has held a 49 percent interest in the Swedish club for a decade, and Chris Klein, Berhalter's former Galaxy teammate and the Galaxy academy director who serves on the Hammarby board.
Other former U.S. internationals have coached in Germany, but they were mostly at smaller clubs and for short stints.
Joe Enochs was named interim head coach late in the 2010-11 season at VfL Osnabrueck, the club for which he played 376 games, but the stint was only for two weeks because he didn't have the necessary coaching license.
Thomas Dooley, the German-bred U.S. international who played on two U.S. World Cup teams and settled in California, returned to Germany to coach at Saarbruecken for parts of two seasons, first in the second division (2002) and the second in the third division (2002-03). He's now back in California and was on the bench as an assistant for Jurgen Klinsmann's first game as national team coach.
Brent Goulet, one of the top forwards in the national team program in the late 1980s, moved to Germany, where he spent 11 seasons playing on lower division clubs. After retiring, he coached SV Elversberg for four seasons (2004-08).
Like Dooley, David Wagner was born to an American GI and German mother, but he had a much shorter stint on the U.S. national team and more modest club career in Germany, where he now works as the head coach of Borussia Dortmund II, the Bundesliga champion's under-23 team.
A couple of American-bred coaches have had episodic coaching stints in Europe: globetrotter Tim Hankinson, who spent a year at Icelandic second division UMF Tindastoll (1990–91), and John Murphy, who was briefly the manager at tiny Livingston in Scotland during its fight to avoid liquidation in 2009.
Perhaps the most successful former U.S. international on the technical side abroad is Earnie Stewart, who moved back to the Netherlands, where he was raised and spent most of his life. He is director of soccer at first-place AZ, which he joined in 2010 after four years as technical director at NAC.