AMSTERDAM – Tippeligaen risers Stabaek are deep into talks to sign free agent midfielder Michael Stephens.
The onetime LA Galaxy man spent nearly two weeks auditioning for new Blue Ones manager Bob Bradley earlier this month before accepting a brief trial with Swedish second-flight side GAIS. Stephens returned to suburban Oslo this week to weigh a job offer from the promoted Norwegians.
"We have made a proposal, but there is not a deal yet," Stabaek sport director Inge André Olsen. "We'd like to sign him. We think he has good qualities."
During his earlier stay, Stephens worked two impressive friendlies under Bradley's watchful eye. Working as a two-way central midfielder, the 24-year-old scored twice in a 7-2 preseason rout of Hønefoss.
"We see him as a player who is best in the middle," Olsen offered. "We hope we can get him. Of course, you always have to go through the negotiations."
Stabaek, who hired Bradley as boss on January 2, climbed back into the top flight after a year below by finishing second in the Adeccoligaen last season. The 2008 Norwegian champs will kick off the new league season with a March 30 visit from Sogndal.
Stephens was a member of two MLS Cup-winning teams during his four seasons with the Galaxy, from which he logged two goals and 12 assists in 94 regular season contests. If he joins Stabaek, the Chicago-area native will become the sixth American to do so, following Erik Benjaminsen, Ricardo Clark, Sean Cunningham, Mikkel Diskerud and Chris Henderson.