Saturday, June 23, 2018
Sports

Bradley becomes first American to lead an EPL club

Bob Bradley persevered in Egypt through a violent uprising, exceled in Norway with limited resources and dropped into France's second-tier league to further prove his coaching credentials.

Throughout the arduous journey after leading the United States at the 2010 World Cup, Bradley remained fixed on the ultimate goal — a job in a top European league.

Now, after years of setbacks and rejections, the 58-year-old Bradley has arrived in the richest soccer league of all after landing a job with Swansea City on Monday.

The Premier League has had 21 different nationalities managing its teams, but Bradley is the first American after replacing the fired Francesco Guidolin in south Wales.

"Bob is extraordinarily intelligent about the game, his work ethic is second to none, and the way he manages teams and deals with people are all outstanding," U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati said Monday.

"You need a number of things to go right to get an opportunity like this (in the Premier League) and to break through if you are not in the regular circle of coaches that are considered for such opportunities."

As the years rolled by, Bradley grew frustrated that he was interviewed for such opportunities in elite leagues but then overlooked for more established European names.

"In many cases decisionmakers play it safe," Bradley told the AP last year while with Norwegian club Stabaek. "There's certainly a network. There are still a lot of good managers. There are also a lot of bad managers. It's not to say that sometimes you don't shake your head at how certain guys keep popping up in jobs."

Bradley's early career developed out of the limelight. Never a professional player, the New Jersey native gained his early managerial experience in college soccer. He coached Princeton University, became an assistant with Major League Soccer's D.C. United in 1996, then led the Chicago Fire, MetroStars and Chivas USA teams before landing the U.S. national team job in 2006.

The world was soon taking notice, particularly at the 2009 Confederations Cup where the Americans ended then-European champion Spain's 35-match winning streak en route to the final.

Bradley's reputation grew and the U.S. won a 2010 World Cup group, which included England, before going out in the second round.

Bradley will be working under American ownership in Swansea, a former industrial city with a population of less than 250,000. Steve Kaplan, a minority owner and executive vice chairman of the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies, and Jason Levien, a part-owner of D.C. United, took control of Swansea in July.

With Swansea winning only one of its opening seven league matches, the owners felt compelled to act. Guidolin became the first manager to be fired in the Premier League this season — and on his 61st birthday.

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