AMSTERDAM — Gregg Berhalter has left the LA Galaxy to become manager of Swedish second-flighters Hammarby IF, inking a two-year deal with another as a club option, the Stockholm-based outfit announced on Monday.
The recently retired defender steps in for interim boss Roger Sandberg, who oversaw the final 10 games of last season's 11th-place finish and will remain as the new boss' right-hand man.
Hammarby are minority-owned by AEG, the owners of the LA Galaxy. The club may be most familiar to American fans as the place where Charlie Davies spent two seasons from 2007-09.
"I look at the great tradition Hammarby has and I look at the possibilities here," Berhalter told Hammarby TV. "For me, it's a great stepping stone. It's a great place to express my ideas and to get a team moving in the direction I see fit."
It will be Berhalter's first head coaching job, with experience thus far confined to the Galaxy's championship run this past season, when the former US international also served as an assistant coach.
"It was a great experience, under arguably the most regarded US coach in history, Bruce Arena," he added. "It's been a great learning experience."
A veteran of two World Cups and 17 pro seasons that also took him to England, Germany and the Netherlands, Berhalter becomes the first former USMNT player to take the reins of a European club's first team on a full-time basis since Brent Goulet left German third-division side Elversberg in 2008. Another, Joe Enochs, acted as caretaker manager for three games with second-flight VfL Osnabrück earlier this year.
Hammarby competed in the Swedish top flight as recently as 2009, when Davies was on the squad. The 96-year-old club won one Allsvenskan crown, back in 2001, and finished second on the honor division as recently as 2003.