Bob Bradley wins European debut with 3-0 Stabæk win over Sogndal
Bob Bradley is the first American coach to win a top-division game in Europe after a 3-0 win over Sogndal to start the Eliteserien season. The former United States and Egyptian national team coach took over newly promoted Stabæk in January after his contract in Egypt was not renewed.
Bradley is not the first American to manage in Europe. That honor goes to current Columbus Crew coach Gregg Berhalter, who put in a year and a half at Sweden's Hammarby IF in the second division, but Bradley is the first to take charge at a first-division club, marking another step on his journey since being fired from his job as the U.S. manager in 2011.
His roster has a decidedly foreign tint to it, as seven players in his starting 11 on Sunday were from outside of Norway. One of those players was former L.A. Galaxy defender Michael Stephens, who played 90 minutes, and another was former Dartmouth College striker Craig Henderson.
It was also a young starting lineup, with an average age of 23. Bradley selected three 19-year-old midfielders (Norwegians Anders Trondsen and Daniel Grandli and Ivorian Luc Kassi), along with two 20-year-olds and a 21-year-old in his first lineup.
Henderson, whose last competitive appearance came for the New Zealand national team in its World Cup qualification playoff loss to Mexico in November, scored the first goal of Bradley's Stabæk reign. He netted in the 14th minute, and Stabæk cruised until halftime.
Sogndal appeared to equalize in the second half, but the goal was called back for offside. It was the spark Stabæk needed, as it closed the game with goals in the 79th and 85th minutes from Nicolai Næss and Fredrik Brustad, respectively.
It was only the first game of the season, but the three points Stabæk earned could prove to be vital. As a newcomer to the Eliteserien, winning against clubs at the bottom of the table will be vital to ensuring survival, and Sogndal finished 2013 just two places and two points above the relegation playoff zone. Stabæk's next three matches should provide tougher tests, as it plays three top-half clubs from last year (two on the road): Brann, Molde and Odd. The Molde matchup will be of particular interest to American fans, as winger Joshua Gatt and goalkeeper Ethan Horvath play for Ole Gunnar Solskjær's former club.