Wherever he goes, Bod Bradley has been a winner. In most stops along his almost-20-year coaching career, he’s had success in abundance, and he’s typically done so quickly.
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For instance, there was his run with the Chicago Fire, in which Bradley led the secon-year club to one MLS Cup and two US Open Cups in five full seasons. Then there was the 2006 iteration of Chivas USA, which Bradley managed to the conference finals in the club’s second season of existence.
So, it’s really no surprise that Bradley’s current club, Stabaek Fotball (Tippeligaen — Norwegian first-division), now sits second in the league (seven of 30 games played) after Saturday’s 2-0 victory over local rivals Valerenga. Saturday’s triumph was marked five wins in a row for Bradley’s tiny Baerum side, keeping De blaa (The Blue Ones) three points off the pace of current leaders Rosenborg. It’s been 465 minutes since they last conceded a league goal.
Following promotion from Norway’s second division in 2013, Bradley took over at Stabaek ahead of the 2014 season. His side quickly raced out to a top-half place early in the season before fading late and ultimately finishing 9th out of 16 teams.
Stabaek’s current run comes, of course, on a shoestring budget, one which restricts Bradley from signing more than a couple new players each offseason. Thus far, Bradley has leaned heavily on a pair of nondescript Americans — midfielders Michael Stephens, now with the Chicago Fire, and Cole Grossman, formerly of Real Salt Lake — as his “star” signings, and has been rewarded with stellar contributions from each player.
Bob Bradley continues to pull off miracles in Norway. His low-cost Stabæk side now second after winning 2-0 at (Oslo rivals) Vålerenga
— Tor-Kristian Karlsen (@karlsentk) May 9, 2015
Man kan bare håpe norske klubbledere ser på Bob Bradley og innser at det kan ha noe for seg å tenke litt utenfor boksen av og til.
— Lars Sivertsen (@larssivertsen) May 9, 2015
Translated: One can only hope the Norwegian club leaders looking at Bob Bradley and realize that it might have something for them to think a little outside the box from time to time.
Of course there was Bradley’s five-year tenure as U.S. national team head coach, in which the Yanks won the 2007 Gold Cup and finished runners-up in 2009 and 2011, finished runners-up at the 2009 Confederations Cup and advanced to the round of 16 at the 2010 World Cup. Bradley also took the Egyptian national team to the brink of World Cup qualification in 2014, only to lose out in the final playoff round after achieving the only perfect record through African qualifying to that point. We should have seen this coming.
Again, none of Bradley’s success at Stabaek is in any way surprising. Nor is it a shock that, despite his past resumé, he was overlooked for every “bigger” European job while unemployed last winter. Despite what he’s doing in Norway, he’ll likely continue as an afterthought while clubs hire less accomplished and pedigreed coaches time after time.