Legendary Bulgarian forward Hristo Stoichkov, who currently works as an on-air analyst with Univision, finished his career with the Chicago Fire and D.C. United in the early 2000s.
When with the Fire, he was coached by Bob Bradley, whom Stoichkov on Sunday called the "father" of the next generation of American coaches.
Bradley's name came up during Sunday's broadcast of the Columbus Crew-Chivas USA match on UniMas. At one point, the conversation between Stoichkov and play-by-play man Jorge Perez Navarro turned to Crew manager Gregg Berhalter, who before becoming a coach played for the LA Galaxy as well as six different clubs in Europe. He also made 44 appearances for the US national team.
Berhalter's transition from player to coach sparked a few remarks from Stoichkov on the many technical staffers in MLS who also played in the league.
“Many of these players, including Greg [Vanney], who is in Toronto these days, C.J. Brown, Peter Nowak – who was coaching for a long time – Diego Gutierrez, are part of a well-educated generation of players," Stoichkov said. "I believe all these players were able to keep a close relationship with Bob Bradley. I believe Bradley is the father of many of these players we are talking about who are either coaching or working in soccer in one way or another.”
Perez Navarro pressed Stoichkov to compare Bradley, who coached the Fire from 1998-2002, among other clubs, and the US national team at the 2010 World Cup, with another well-respected American manager, current LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena. Bradley actually worked as an assistant under Arena when Arena was leading D.C. United to consecutive MLS Cup titles in 1996 and 1997.
"I believe both of them have done important things for this country, like being managers of the US national team, going from round to round," Stoichkov said. "I consider them both as the influencers, fathers, and friends of all these players-turned-coaches we are talking about."