What Bob Bradley's new job could mean for American coaches

Note: this post originally appeared on GianlucadiMarzio.com.

Bob Bradley just took over as manager for Le Havre, a club in the French second tier.

Since leaving his gig as U.S. head man in 2011, Bradley has become a pioneer of sorts for American coaches. He managed Egypt through a tumultuous time for both the country and the sport and then headed to Norway of all places to take on a European club job with Stabaek.

Bradley ultimately failed to get Egypt to its first World Cup since 1990, but was widely successful with Stabaek. In 2013, his first year with Stabaek, the club had just rejoined the Eliteserien after earning promotion before Bradley arrived. Bradley helped the small club finish a solid ninth in the 16-team league. This season they finished third and earned a spot in next season’s Europa League playoffs, a major accomplishment for Stabaek.

So now Bradley moves on to France, where he is no longer in a top flight, but has potential to get back to one (Le Havre is just one place below a promotion place as Bradley takes over) in a much bigger league. Bradley’s success or failure could determine the near future for American coaches who potentially could make similar moves in Europe.

There haven’t been Americans leading big coaching jobs in Europe. Le Havre, even if it gains promotion and joins Ligue 1 next season, isn’t a big job. It’s simply a bigger job than any American has led in Europe. Guys like Peter Vermes, Caleb Porter, Bruce Arena and Jason Kreis (although he’s simply looking for another MLS job after NYCFC canned him recently) might have enough ambition and are capable enough to follow in Bradley’s footsteps if given the chance. Maybe even Tab Ramos, who has been connected to the Chicago Fire opening and is currently the U.S. U-20 coach, could have a future in European coaching.

Arena is probably the most capable of that group, but his desire is questionable. Bradley was an assistant under Arena at the University of Virginia, with the 1996 Olympic squad and at D.C. United when MLS began play in 1996. Arena is probably the best American coach, having won MLS Cup five times and the Supporters’ Shield three times along with leading the Americans to the quarterfinals in the 2002 World Cup. He may not leave his longtime post with the Los Angeles Galaxy, where he has been in charge since 2008, but he has the credentials to go to Europe if he wanted to give it a shot.

Kreis remains a hot coaching name, even after being dumped after one year in New York. He’s only 42, but failing at New York City FC, a club which has a higher profile in Europe due to its star players and Manchester City ownership, will likely stall any European ambitions for him. If Kreis bounces back when he gets an MLS job (it’s a good bet to say he will be an MLS head coach in 2016), he will return to being one of the most well-respected American managers.

There aren’t a lot of current American coaches that look ready to receive a big job in Europe right now, but if Bradley succeeds maybe the next time a European club has an opening they won’t immediately dismiss an American candidate.

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