Ambitious Bob Bradley hoping Stabaek is a launching pad to Europe

Posted by Jeff Carlisle

Kevork Djansezian/Getty ImagesBetween his stint as Egypt manager and becoming the head coach of Stabaek, Bob Bradley has been a trailblazer for American coaches.

Bob Bradley's appointment as manager of Norwegian side Stabaek was only a few hours old, yet he was already hard at work.

Bradley spent much of Jan. 3 meeting with the various coaches associated with the club. He planned to take in a training session of the club's under-19 team the next day. The rest of the weekend would be spent preparing for the first official day of training.

Perhaps that explains why Bradley seemed intent on downplaying his latest pioneering adventure, this time as the first American to be in charge of a top-flight club in Europe. Continue Reading...

Ever-ambitious, Cherundolo hopes to help the U.S. in Brazil

Posted by Stephan Uersfeld

Christof Stache/AFP/Getty ImagesAfter battling chronic knee injuries, Steve Cherundolo is close to returning and hopes to help both his club team Hannover and his national team, the United States.

HANNOVER, Germany -- In January 1999, a young lad from the University of Portland arrived in Germany hoping to live out his dream as a professional footballer. The American headed to the region of Lower Saxony and found an opportunity in the area's capital of Hannover.

Franz Gerber, a former FC Bayern pro, had just taken the reins of then-third division side Hannover 96, the city's local club, when he stumbled on talented right-footer Steven Cherundolo. Hannover hadn't played in the German first division in 10 years but was ambitiously aiming for a return. Continue Reading...

Whitbread revives push for international career

Posted by Jason Davis

Michael Regan/Getty ImagesZak Whitbread, shown playing for Leicester City in August, has moved on to Derby County, where he hopes to strengthen his longshot USMNT hopes.

The number that most stands out when scanning the playing record of defender Zak Whitbread is zero -- zero as in the number of senior U.S. international appearances Whitbread has made during a English soccer career that includes stints at Millwall, Norwich City, Leicester City, and now Derby County.

Despite a strong pedigree and a mutual interest in making Whitbread a full U.S. international at various points over the last decade, the Houston-born, England-raised Whitbread remains uncapped. Continue Reading...

Jozy Altidore's lost scoring touch at Sunderland a concern

Posted by Jason Davis

Matthew Lewis/Getty ImagesJozy Altidore's early scoring drought is more an indictment of Sunderland, but one has to wonder if that will affect his confidence with club and country.

The 2013-14 Premier League season is just four games old. There is hardly enough evidence to make any broad judgments or to label any team or individual player a failure. Four games can't tell us which team is the favorite to win the league or which is a shoo-in to be relegated. Four games shouldn't stand in judgment of players who struggle out of the box with so many opportunities to improve on the horizon.

But for new Sunderland signing Jozy Altidore, America's No. 1 striker, three league games without a goal does represent reason to worry. Continue Reading...

On Gedion Zelalem, soccer potential and 'American-ness'

Posted by Jason Davis

David Price/Arsenal FC/Getty ImagesThough he may never play for the U.S. national team, Gedion Zelalem feels like the next great American player.

This story is not about Gedion Zelalem, the 16-year-old Arsenal wunderkind who dressed for the Gunners in the North London Derby on Sunday. This story is not about Zelalem's particular background, that of a German-born son of Ethiopian immigrants who moved to the United States when Gedion was just 9 years old.

This story is about what Gedion Zelalem represents as an achingly young, potentially transcendent talent whose loyalties cannot possibly be explained in a 1,200-word column by an American with no direct ties to any other country. Continue Reading...

American keepers remain a valued export

Posted by Jason Davis

Michael Steele/Getty ImagesUntil further notice and despite tenuous times at Everton, Tim Howard will remain the top keeper choice for the U.S.

The conventional wisdom goes that America's strongest export is its ubiquitous culture. This is true, but only because America's second-strongest import, the goalkeeper, has trended ever-so-slightly downward in recent years. That doesn't mean American goalkeepers aren't still a strong value in the European market, but with age taking its necessary toll, the pure number of Yanks standing between the sticks across the continent has hit something of a valley.

Nonetheless, that both of the United States men's national team's top two keepers ply their trade in the most visible league in the world, the English Premier League, is a reason for confidence. Continue Reading...

Sweden's Hammarby emerges as American testing ground

Posted by Jason Davis

Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY SportsCharlie Davies would go on to score 21 goals with Hammarby before moving south to Ligue 1.

In 2002, American sports and entertainment behemoth AEG, owners of the L.A. Galaxy, bought a minority share of a blue-collar Swedish club called Hammarby IF. Over the course of the next decade, undoubtedly in part because of AEG's influence, Hammarby developed a strong connection to American soccer.

Hammarby's connection to American soccer began fairly innocuously. Boston College striker Charlie Davies passed on the opportunity to play in MLS and hopped over the Atlantic to start his pro career in Sweden's Allsvenskan, the way Americans sometimes choose Scandinavia for its proximity to bigger European leagues and higher entry-level salaries. Continue Reading...

A focused Aron Johannsson hits the ground running

Posted by Jason Davis

VI Images/Getty ImagesReplacing Jozy Altidore at AZ, Aron Johannsson is making the most of his opportunities.

Aron Johannsson's decision to play for the country of his birth over the country of his parents came with a short burst of white-hot controversy. The Icelandic FA spoke out about the AZ Alkmaar's strikers decision, lamenting it as being against the spirit of the international game. Fans in both the United States and Iceland debated the rightness of his choice. Johannsson's Facebook page -- where he first made the announcement that he would represent the USMNT -- filled up with heated support and criticism in both English and Icelandic. Continue Reading...

Joe Gyau embarks on his professional road

Posted by Brian Blickenstaff

Frederick Breedon/Getty ImagesJoe Gyau's time with the U.S. national team has prevented him from making an impression with his German coaches.

When Joe Gyau was about 4 years old, his dad, Philip, who worked then as a youth soccer coach, moved the couch and chairs and the rest of the living room furniture toward the walls. He then called his young son over and put down a ball. It was time to train.

"At first, [it was] a soft ball, because I was like, 'you're not going to be breaking the stuff in my house,'" his mother, Amia, recalled one sunny afternoon in Heidelberg, Germany. She smiled at the memory and then looked at her son. Continue Reading...

Chandler's latest U.S. omission raises eyebrows

Posted by Doug McIntyre

Victor Decolongon/Getty ImagesOnce considered the top young U.S. talent, Timmy Chandler's international career appears to be stalling.

There was no shortage of interesting inclusions -- recently recruited dual nationals Aron Johannsson and John Anthony Brooks among them -- on the roster U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann released ahead of Wednesday's friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo (2:30 p.m ET, ESPN2/WatchESPN).

But more intriguing than any of the names on Klinsmann's list could be Timmy Chandler, who wasn't selected to the 23-man squad.

On the surface, the omission of one the U.S. program's top young players is justifiable given that Chandler didn't play in Nurnberg's Bundesliga opener on Saturday -- and endured a nightmarish performance in a German cup game against second-tier Sandhausen the week before. Continue Reading...

Josh Gatt's ambitions remain healthy as he heals

Posted by Kristan Heneage

Brett Davis/USA TODAY SportsMichigan native Josh Gatt, already one of the fastest player in Norwegian soccer, expects to improve on his speed once his recovery is complete.

It's a moment players and fans alike dread: the crunching tackle, a moment of pin-drop silence. Something serious has happened, except it wasn't quite like that for Josh Gatt. As the Michigan-born 21-year-old settles in to a temporary stay in his first home, his mind wanders to the day he suffered the injury that put him there.

"When it first happened, I thought it was a hyperextension," he explained to ESPN FC. His evaluation was based on past experience.

Consequently, Gatt envisaged a fortnight on the treatment table before reengaging his efforts to earn playing time at the upcoming Gold Cup. Continue Reading...

Start of European season puts Americans all over the map

Posted by Jason Davis

Cooper Neill/Getty ImagesGeoff Cameron, who featured 35 times under Tony Pulis in his first EPL season, leads a formidable contingent of Americans at Stoke City.

The start of the European season brings with it an annual rite for American soccer fans. For lack of a better word, let's call it "accounting," otherwise explained as the cataloging of the numerous Americans playing soccer outside of the United States.

A summer of movement has (mostly) come to an end, and it's time to stick the pins in the map to mark who will be playing where in 2013. That's not to imply we should leave out American players whose seasons have already started, or those outside of Europe -- plenty of names are making waves and putting in time in countries like Mexico, where the Apertura is already a few weeks old. Continue Reading...