Former U.S. men's national team coach Bob Bradley is at it again in Norway with Stabaek.
Despite having a budget at the bottom of the league and media predictions of relegation, Stabaek is tied for first place on points after eight games, with six straight shutout wins following Wednesday's 4-0 victory over Sandefjord.
Bradley said the team has improved in his second year in part because the players know what to expect from him.
“You’re always trying to establish: What does it take to become a good team?” he said. “But in order for that to happen, you’re also trying to figure out how to connect and challenge guys and make sure they know part of the deal is to make them better, push them up a bit and help them in their careers. We’ve had a lot of guys who’ve made really good progress.”
Here’s something crazy, though: Despite having a World Cup resume, Bradley is required by UEFA rules to have a UEFA Pro coaching license (all top-flight coaches in UEFA must either have or be pursuing the Pro license), so he had been in Switzerland for the last three days as part of a year-long coaching course before he flew back to coach in Wednesday's game.
At least Bradley has a sense of humor about being required to get a coaching license after beating Spain at the Confederations Cup and finishing higher than England in a group at World Cup 2010.
“In one of these get-togethers, one thing they did was set up situations where they have a group of people from the federation that act as the board of a club,” he explained. “They say to you that you’ve lost X number of games in a row and you’ve been called in for an emergency meeting with the board. They film this, and then later they look at it and pick out different parts and discuss it.
“Then they do [a simulation] with the media where you go into the flash zone after a tough loss. Well, the one thing to be said is I’ve dealt with boards,” Bradley said with a chuckle. “And after the first leg against Ghana [when Bradley’s Egypt lost 6-1 in a World Cup playoff], I did a TV show that’s the most popular show in Egypt, that has like 40 million viewers, and took responsibility for the first game.”
That said, Bradley added that he’s enjoying the experience of becoming part of the Norwegian coaching community and getting to know his colleagues there. At this rate, it’s only a matter of time before Bradley draws offers from bigger clubs in Europe.
Here are a couple of more insider items from around the soccer world:
USMNT's Bedoya, Kitchen draw European interest
U.S. midfielder Alejandro Bedoya has had a good season at France’s Nantes and was recently the team’s Man of the Match in a game against PSG. Now Bedoya, who earlier this season signed a new extension with Nantes through 2019, is drawing interest from teams in the German Bundesliga and the English Premier League, according to his agent, Lyle Yorks, who just concluded a trip to Europe.
Yorks added that he’s had conversations with Champions League teams in Belgium and Denmark, as well as teams in Germany about another of one his clients, D.C. United’s Perry Kitchen.
Kitchen has two caps this year with the U.S. national team and is in the last year of his MLS contract.
Heath: Orlando City's owners would spring for Chicharito
One player who has long been seen as a prize on and off the field for any MLS team is Real Madrid’s Mexican star, Javier "Chicharito" Hernández, who’s on loan from Manchester United.
One team that could really use a center forward is Orlando City, whose coach Adrian Heath recently told me: “I think if we could get Chicharito, our ownership would do it.”
That says a lot about Orlando’s ambition, even if it doesn’t land Chicharito. Sources tell me Chicharito is not likely to stay at Real Madrid and would prefer to move to a big club in Europe, but if only medium-sized European clubs are available then Hernández has not ruled out an MLS move this summer.'