Gregg Berhalter with Hammarby

AMSTERDAM – Swedish second-flight club Hammarby fired manager Gregg Berhalter on Wednesday, naming former midfielder Thomas Dennerby as his replacement.

Despite having the second-best defense in the Superettan, the Stockholm club is currently nine points adrift of the promotion zone at the midway point of the season. 

Berhalter was named boss prior to last season, taking the team to a fourth-place finish. The former US international and LA Galaxy defender's contract was due to expire at year's end, but promotion hopefuls Hammarby opted to make the change now.

"Gregg has brought order to our defensive game and has good discipline in the squad, but unfortunately we have not seen good enough dividends in the offense," Hammarby chairman Kent Hertzell told the club website. "Therefore, we chose to terminate cooperation with Gregg. We believe that we need to get a new force and new voice on the team."

Though shown the door from his first managerial job, Berhalter was hardly hanging his head and leaves with well wishes from his former Hammarby bosses.

"Of course, I am disappointed not to get to complete the work that began 19 months ago," said the former US defender. "But when I look back at all the work we have done in the organization, I am convinced that we have made progress.

"I would like to thank the fans for the atmosphere they create for the team and the support they have shown during the time I was in charge. I wish the team good luck with the remainder of the season."