Bradley works miracle, leads Stabaek to European qualification

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Bob Bradly is a miracle worker. And that is probably an understatement.

On Sunday he led Norwegian minnows Stabaek to European qualification, as De blaa beat Start 3-2 to guarantee at least a third-placed finish in the Norwegian top-flight.

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Reaching the Europa League is an incredible achievement for Bradley and his talented backroom staff — which include Tomasz Kaczmarek and Jan Peder Jalland as coaches and sporting director Andre Inge Olsen — given the limited resources available to him at Stabaek and with his contract up in the next few weeks, it caps off a wonderful two years since he left the Egyptian national team and arrived as the first American coach to ever manage in a top-flight league in Europe.

Bradley, 57, told PST in September that he isn’t sure what the future holds and despite Stabaek holding talks with him about a new deal, it is widely believed the former U.S. national team head coach will now move on to his next challenge. He has been linked with many jobs in Norway, England, Germany and France in recent months, the most intriguing of which seems to be Le Harve in Ligue 2. However things pan out, Bradley has helped the profile of American coaches grow in Europe as his exploits in Norway have not gone unnoticed.

[ SPORTSWORLD: JPW visits Bradley in Norway ]

ICYMI, last summer I took a trip to Norway and followed Bradley and his team around at their modest home at Nadderud Stadion as well as on a road trip to play Norwegian powerhouses Rosenborg. Read all about that here on NBC SportsWorld. In Norway he has been lauded as the “greatest manager there has ever been” in the top-flight as well as often appearing on national TV, speaking at national coaching conferences and becoming a benchmark for managing at a time when the nation has seen an upsurge in success both domestically and with the national team.

Heading into their final game of the season the situation is simple for Stabaek. If they beat Bodø/Glimt and Stromsgodset lose or draw against Vålerenga, they will finish in second place and grab the silver medal as the runners up. When it comes to European qualification, finishing in second spot also has a big advantage over finishing in third. Whoever finishes second in the Tippeligaen qualifies for the second round of Europa League qualifying for the 2016-17 season, while the third place team has to start in the first round of qualifying.

[ MORE: Bradley chats success at Stabaek ]

Not much of a difference, but still, a second place finish means only three home and home ties would have to be won to reach the group stages of the Europa League instead of four if Stabaek was to finish in third. Stabaek last qualified for the Europa League in three successive years from 2009-13 but lost in the qualifying rounds on each occasion. The closest they came to making the group stage was in 2009-10 when they lost to Spanish giants Valencia 7-1 on aggregate in the play-off round. The Baerum side also reached the third qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League in the same season but that run of three-straight runs to Europe came amid a huge cash injection into the squad which was unsustainable and ultimately led to Stabaek almost going bankrupt, plus their eventual relegation to the second-tier of Norwegian soccer.

[ MORE: Tracking Bradley’s Norwegian adventure ]

Bradley’s achievements over the past few years usurp those previous qualifications to Europe Stabaek had. No doubt. The New Jersey native took charge of the club on a shoestring budget in early 2014 just after they had been promoted back to Tippeligaen and in each of the last two years Stabaek have been tipped for relegation. Under Bradley’s stewardship they finished an impressive ninth last season — despite losing several players to bigger clubs and having to get creative with the transfer market with extremely limited resources — after leading the way in the early months. This season they overcame a complete roster overhaul, and endured similar issues with losing key players mid-season, to fight tooth and nail with giants Rosenborg for the title as well as reaching the semifinal of the Norwegian cup in both campaigns.

The first-ever American to coach in a European top-flight has exceeded all expectations and he should be lauded and applauded for doing so. Whether he stays with Stabaek or moves onto the next challenge, we will have to wait and see. Whatever happens, Bradley’s achievements at Stabaek have been nothing short of astounding.

USMNT reportedly opens contract talks with Gregg Berhalter; Good or bad idea?

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Gregg Berhalter may be sticking around the United States men’s national team program, giving the USMNT coaching continuity as it moves from 2022 World Cup Round of 16 member to 2026 World Cup co-host.

ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle says that Berhalter is beginning contract discussions with the United States Soccer Federation but also interested in taking a job in Europe with his profile having risen alongside the USMNT at the World Cup.

Berhalter’s current contract ends at the end of the calendar year, and the Yanks have scheduled a domestic camp in January and friendlies against Serbia and Colombia.

[ MORE: USMNT transfer rumors for Musah, Dest ]

Berhalter has done some good things for the program, most notably winning the CONCACAF Nations League and Gold Cup with two different groups. He also straightened out the defending, for the most part, and got out of the World Cup group.

Berhalter successfully recruited Sergino Dest and Yunus Musah, two of the program’s stars at the World Cup. He also convinced Malik Tillman, Gaga Slonina, and Jesus Ferreira that the U.S. was the right place for their national team futures.

He also, subjectively, was slow if not downright stubborn in acquiesing to certain points-of-view that made the team better. From Tyler Adams as a right back at the outset of his tenure to saying Tim Ream didn’t fit how he wanted to play about a month before the World Cup… then playing him every minute of the tournament.

But for the most part when lessons were learned, they stayed learned.

Should Gregg Berhalter continue as USMNT boss?

Let’s start here, because it’s necessary: It’s clear that Berhalter cared about his players and the project, whether you like the way he operated or not. This wasn’t a half-assed operation, but one with passion.

So does he still have that passion? Only he can answer that, and if he’d like to get more matchdays in his life then maybe he does want to go back to the club game.

And frankly, that’s fine either way, because his four years with the program were neither amazing nor pitiful. They can be described as anything from a slight disappointment to a minor success, depending on your perspective and expectations.

If you believe that picking up the pieces from the absolute travesty that was failing to qualify for the World Cup from the richest nation and one of the two most talented nations amongst CONCACAF men’s programs was really hard, then you think Berhalter getting the men to the 2022 World Cup and surviving the group with a young group was a solid step in the right direction and a minor success.

If you believe that the American soccer climate is such that you should always make the World Cup out of one of the world’s lesser confederations and that the Yanks progressed as the second team of a group in which they were the second-ranked team according to FIFA and Elo Ratings, well, you can have a different standard.

The Yanks will never again fail to qualify for the World Cup given the expanded field, but hosts have historically had a drastically-improved chance to reach the semifinals. THe federation would have to be confident that picking the best squad regardless of how it reflects on his previous selections — let alone a Best XI — is going to happen under a given coach.

Berhalter’s 49 and is far from the worst or best boss in USMNT history. Whoever’s in the job four years from now will have a chance to go down as either one. Choose wisely, fed. And Gregg! Who knows how far his star could rise with a solid run in Europe, and history says there will be the chance to reconnect with the USMNT job.

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Premier League table, 2022-23 season

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If it’s the 2022-23 Premier League table you’re after, you’ve come to the right place.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

We’re at the 2022 World Cup break, and the final few rounds of Premier League fixtures caused so many shocks.

Who’s looking like title contenders and/or favorites?

Almost at the halfway mark of the 2022-23 season, Arsenal and Manchester City are looking head and shoulders above the rest.

The Gunners will have their hands full for the duration of their title challenge, as Erling Haaland continues to take the Premier League by storm with an almost impossible goal-scoring record.

Newcastle, Tottenham and Manchester United are locked in a battle for the top four, while Liverpool have improved and will be back in the Champions League scrap and Chelsea are struggling.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Who are the early-season candidates for relegation?

Newly promoted Nottingham Forest moved off the bottom of the table with a win before the break, with Wolves and Southampton currently occupying the other two relegation places.

Leicester have picked up a few big wins, while West Ham, Everton and Leeds all find themselves within a few points of the bottom-three after a topsy-turvy start.

Below you will find the latest Premier League table.


Premier League table – Matchweek 16

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England vs France: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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Match 59 of the 2022 World Cup features a pair of European heavyweights duking it out for a place in the semifinals when England faces France on Saturday.

Didier Deschamps’ France is bidding to become a back-to-back World Cup winner, but Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions are tournament-hardened and have shown their explosive nature three times this tournament.

STREAM ENGLAND vs FRANCE LIVE

France beat Poland 3-1 in its Round of 16 match while England overcame a dodgy start to pound Senegal 3-0.

Neither team can say its faced a test like this in the tournament, and this could be a fantastic fight in Qatar.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

Here is everything you need for England vs France.


How to watch England vs France live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 2pm ET, Saturday, December 1
Stadium: Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

England will look to Harry Kane, though the question remains who will flank the Tottenham center forward. Marcus Rashford’s been very good but Bukayo Saka and Phil Foden got the starting spots against Senegal and it paid off for Southgate.

Kylian Mbappe has been borderline unstoppable and will test Harry Maguire, John Stones, and friends and Antoine Griezmann pulls the strings in behind and Aurelien Tchouameni continues to strengthen his reputation in the center of the pitch.


England quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 5
World Cup titles: 1 (1966)
World Cup appearances: 15
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA
Coach: Gareth Southgate
Key players: Harry Kane, Jude Bellingham, Jordan Pickford

France quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 4
World Cup titles: 2 (1998, 2018)
World Cup appearances: 15
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA (Won Group D)
Coach: Didier Deschamps
Key players: Kylian Mbappe, Raphael Varane, Antoine Griezmann

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Croatia vs Brazil: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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World Cup-savvy Croatia stands in the way of stylish Brazil’s pursuit of a sixth World Cup crown, and the pair promise a complex match-up on Friday in Al Rayyan.

Match 58 of the 2022 World Cup kicks off the quarterfinals as Neymar leads Tite’s star-studded CONMEBOL powers into a match against the 2018 runners-up.

STREAM CROATIA vs BRAZIL LIVE

Croatia got past Japan in penalties and will now dream of the two wins that could set it back in the final where France could again be waiting for a juicy rematch.

Croatia needed penalties to get past Japan in the Round of 16, while Brazil pasted South Korea 4-1.  Croatia has never beaten Brazil in four meetings, losing at the 2006 and 2014 World Cups.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

Here is everything you need for Croatia vs Brazil.


How to watch Croatia vs Brazil live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET, Friday, December 9
Stadium: Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

Croatia’s Dominik Livakovic was fantastic in penalties versus Japan to get here, but Luka Modric continues to do the things that get Croatia out of trouble and puts the opponents into heaps of it. Josko Gvardiola has arguably been the defender of the tournament, and the 20-year-old looks to test his mettle again against the Selecao.

Pick a Brazil player who’s failed to impress and you’ve achieved a mighty feat. Neymar’s been fantastic when healthy while RIcharlison is in serious pursuit of the Golden Boot. Alisson Becker flexed his muscles once or twice versus South Korea and figures to be busier as the competition continues to heat up in Qatar.


Croatia quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 12
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 6
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA (1st place)
Coach: Zlatko Dalic
Key players: Luka Modric, Andrej Kramaric, Mateo Kovacic, Josko Gvardiol

Brazil quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 1
World Cup titles: 5 (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002)
World Cup appearances: 22
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONMEBOL (1st place)
Coach: Tite
Key players: Neymar, Thiago Silva, Casemiro, Alisson Becker

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