May 20, 2014, 8:22 PM EDT
Three wins in a row has Stabæk, 10 matches into its top-flight return, sitting third in Noways’ Tippeligaen, with former U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Bob Bradley exceeding early expectations in his first European job. With his team’s Tuesday victory over defending champions Strømsgodset, Bradley has his new club in third place, transcending predictions last year’s First Division runners up would settle in near the bottom of the 16-team table.
Though the team defeated last year’s runners up Rosenborg this weekend, today’s victory creates a new high mark in the former champions’ return. With goals from Fredrick Brustad and Franck Boli, Stabæk handed Strømsgodset its second loss of the season, 2-1, with only Peter Kovacs’ second half equalizer keeping Ivorian Mande Sayouba from keeping his first clean sheet of the season.
Combined with his two wins in cup competition, Bradley has now won eight of 12 games as Stabæk head coach, with only Molde and Strømsgodset, last year’s cup and league winners, separating the Blues from the top of the table. They’re six points ahead of Bodø/Glimt, the club that bested them last year’s first division (second tier), while the team’s averaging 1.70 goals per game. Two months into the season, eight different players have already gotten on the scoresheet for Stabæk, with 20-year-old Ivorian Franck Boli second in the league with six goals.
If there are any warning signs, that’s Stabek’s defense (which has allowed 15 goals) as well as a schedule that’s allowed the club to play six of its first 10 at home. For a team that was in the second tier six months ago, those are relative qualms. One-third of the way through the season, Stabæk is more relevant than most predicted. Given this is Bradley’s first foray into Europe, he’s off to a very nice start.
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