Monday, May 21, 2018
Sports

yankee stay home?

Europe has embraced Disneyland and the iPhone.

Its people eat at McDonald's, download Taylor Swift and were as eager as U.S. audiences to see the new Star Wars.

However there is one import the continent has so far proved unwilling to try: the American soccer coach.

More than three-dozen Americans have played in the English Premier League, where five teams also have U.S. owners. Yet the EPL has never had a U.S.-born coach.

Ditto the German Bundesliga, home to four players from the last U.S. World Cup team but to no American coaches. Nor have there been any in Spain's La Liga, Italy's Serie A, France's Ligue 1, Portugal's Primeira Liga or the Dutch Eredivise.

Only one American has ever coached in a top-flight European league. And former U.S. national team coach Bob Bradley's stay in Norway lasted only 22 months before his contract expired last month.

But don't take any of that personally, says Christian Seifert, chief executive of the Bundesliga. "Everyone is looking for a good coach," he said. "So if there is a good U.S. coach, there would be absolutely no problem from a German perspective."

Bruce Arena, who is a good U.S. coach, isn't buying that. He has won five Major League Soccer titles and a record 71 games with the U.S. national team, yet the only offer he received to coach in Europe came from a team in the far-off Danish Superliga nearly 10 years ago.

"You do see reluctance," said Arena, who coaches the Los Angeles Galaxy. "There's a lot of obstacles ahead before Americans are considered for those positions."

Added Bradley: "There still are some stereotypes out there."

But that's starting to change.

The success of the national team under Bradley and Arena, the wide audiences that MLS games are attracting in Europe and rave reviews from Europeans returning home after playing in MLS have led to a new appreciation of U.S. coaches. And that may soon lead to jobs.

"The names will now start to become more household names in Europe," said Ian Joy, who played in England and Germany before becoming an analyst on Fox's coverage of the Bundesliga. "The talent that's coming here (is) spreading the rumor back to Europe that these people are good enough to coach there. It's only a matter of time, trust me, before we see an American coach in the Premiership getting his opportunity."

Four years ago, Bradley thought that opportunity would go to him. After being fired by the national team despite Team USA's winning its group at the 2010 World Cup and compiling the second-best record in U.S. Soccer history, Bradley said his name was mentioned nearly a dozen times regarding coaching vacancies in England.

But only one team talked with him directly. And it didn't offer a job.

"Oftentimes what you hear is ... 'We're looking for someone with Premiership experience,' " Bradley said. "Or if it's Germany, 'We're looking for German coaches.' As much as the game has grown in the U.S., when you come to Europe, it's that experience in Europe, whether it was experience as a player or experience as a coach. Those things still count."

So Bradley set out to gain that experience, going first to Norway, where he guided tiny Stabaek through promotion from the second division to a Europa League berth, then on to France, where he has Le Harve within reach of promotion to Ligue 1.

But his most impressive accomplishment came just before that, when he coached Egypt through revolution and a bloody coup to within a win of its second World Cup berth in 80 years.

"I've been willing to take chances," he said. "Go places where, quite frankly, most people wouldn't go, and in different circumstances show people what it takes to be a leader, what it takes to train a team, what it takes to develop players. And now I'm confident that I'm going to move forward and once again show people how I do things."

Yet while Bradley was taking chances, the people making coaching decisions in Europe have chosen to play it safe, often hiring familiar names who were fired elsewhere rather than taking a chance on someone new. And the numbers show just what a closed group the European coaching fraternity has become

In the English Premier League, there have been nine coaching changes since last season and each time the vacancy was filled by a manager who had previously coached in a top-flight European league. In the Bundesliga, seven of the eight coaches hired since last spring were not only experienced but German as well. In La Liga, six of the eight new coaches were Spanish and in Serie A, where 12 of the 20 teams found new managers since last season, only two were not Italian.

If Bradley, 57, is frustrated by the apparent lack of respect, he won't admit it. In a lengthy phone interview from Normandy, he spoke matter-of-factly about the circuitous route he has taken.

"What you do is you don't worry about it," he said. "If something comes your way that you're excited about, you roll up your sleeves and you say, 'Hey, let's get started.'

"I'm confident the different situations I've been in continue to show people the way I do things. And when all is said and done, you see where it takes you."

Bradley says that any talk of a prohibition against American soccer coaches in Europe ignores the fact that U.S. professional leagues have proven equally wary of foreigners. Nearly a quarter of all NBA players come from outside the U.S., yet its only foreign-born coach is the Golden State Warriors' Steve Kerr, who was born in Lebanon but is an American citizen and played 15 seasons in the NBA. Major League Baseball has an even higher percentage of foreign players. But two of its three foreign-born managers were born on U.S. military bases and the third, the Atlanta Braves' Fredi Gonzalez, left Cuba for the U.S. when he was 3.

What's aiding Bradley's rise now is the growth of U.S. soccer and the increasing influence American players are having in Europe. It's a big change from what goalkeeper Brad Friedel experienced when he broke in with Liverpool in 1997, a time when Americans were still something of an oddity in the sport.

"The best compliment that I ever got playing in England was when the English stopped viewing me as a foreigner," Friedel said. "That will be the same sort of trend for a U.S. coach."

Arena says the scrutiny placed on a coach will be even greater than that placed on the players because while there were many players, there is only one Bob Bradley.

"Until an American coach is fully accepted, there will be an awful lot of pressure," said Arena, a longtime friend of Bradley's. "It's not going to get any easier and you're always going to be labeled an American."

Comments
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Sunday’s Rays-Angels game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Sunday’s Rays-Angels game

* It's always interesting to think of how many amazing plays you see made in a game, then often a simple one — such as the fourth-inning comebacker to Rays RHP Matt Andriese — gets messed up and costs teams heavily, as that led to two run...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Rays journal: Pitching plan works, until Sergio Romo leaves in second inning

Rays journal: Pitching plan works, until Sergio Romo leaves in second inning

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Doubling down on their innovativeness and starting veteran reliever Sergio Romo for a second straight day worked out fine Sunday for the Rays.It was the less-effective pitchers who followed, plus the ineffectiveness of their h...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Expansion Vegas advances to Stanley Cup final

Expansion Vegas advances to Stanley Cup final

WINNIPEG — The Vegas Golden Knights are going to the Stanley Cup final — with a chip on their shoulder."Everybody on this team has something to prove," forward Ryan Reaves said. "We call ourselves 'The Golden Misfits' for a reason. We're ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
What a long, strange and winning road trip it was for Rays

What a long, strange and winning road trip it was for Rays

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The nearly Yanny-vs.-Laurel level national debate over their latest pitching strategy innovation of starting relievers isn't quite as entertaining today. The In-N-Out burgers in the clubhouse after the game weren't as tasty. T...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Taggart delivers a bolt to area

Taggart delivers a bolt to area

TAMPA — After spending four years as USF’s football coach, Willie Taggart knows what to expect this time of year in the area, so it’s no surprise how he began a chat with reporters Sunday before a booster stop at Armature Works."Go Lightning," he sai...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Willie Taggart: ‘Pretty cool’ to be back in Tampa as FSU coach

Willie Taggart: ‘Pretty cool’ to be back in Tampa as FSU coach

TAMPA – After spending four years as USF's football coach, Willie Taggart knows what to expect this time of year in the area, so it's no surprise how he began a chat with reporters Sunday before a booster stop at Armature Works."Go Lightning," ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Romo not the reason, but Rays streak ends at 6 with 5-2 loss to Angels

Romo not the reason, but Rays streak ends at 6 with 5-2 loss to Angels

ANAHEIM, Calif.  – Doubling down on their innovativeness and starting veteran reliever Sergio Romo for a second straight day worked out fine for the Rays on Sunday.It was the less effective pitchers who followed, and the ineffectiveness of...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Lightning-Capitals: Familiar ground for Capitals as they face elimination

Lightning-Capitals: Familiar ground for Capitals as they face elimination

TAMPA – Capitals G Braden Holtby basically summed up playoff life for the Capitals after Saturday's Game 5 loss in the Eastern Conference final when he said the team never makes it easy for itself."No, we don't," coach Barry Trotz agreed Sunday...
Updated: 11 hours ago
For Bolts radio duo, being fans at heart is key to their success

For Bolts radio duo, being fans at heart is key to their success

As the last tension-filled seconds of a tight playoff game wind down, high above the Amalie Arena ice, the play-by-play man becomes increasingly animated.Dave Mishkin, eyes bulging, face purple, jumps from his seat, holding the headset with his left ...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Lightning-Capitals: In playoffs, Lightning and its town become one

Lightning-Capitals: In playoffs, Lightning and its town become one

TAMPA — The Lightning is a win away from a trip to the Stanley Cup final. Its Game 5 win Saturday, to take a 3-2 lead over the Washington Capitals, was another chapter of a story being written on the fly."Think about Game 1 in New Jersey,"...
Published: 05/20/18