The Bundesliga now has a born-and-bred American manager after Pellegrino Matarazzo and VfB Stuttgart earned automatic promotion to Germany’s first division over the weekend.
Matarazzo, a 42-year-old New Jersey native, took over Stuttgart in December and led them to a 17-10-7 season and plus-21 goal differential. Even with FC Heidenheim nipping on their heels, as coupled with a 3-1 defeat to Darmstadt on Sunday, they secured passage.
It is now official: Despite the loss, VfB Stuttgart has been promoted to the Bundesliga. Manager Pellegrino Matarazzo will become the first even American born & raised Bundesliga manager. Congratulations to the Fair Lawn, NJ native. Massive accomplishment— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) June 28, 2020
Matarazzo played at Columbia University before competing for various lower-division German clubs across the 2000s. After retirement, he progressed through the FC Nürnberg coaching ranks before switching to Hoffenheim in 2017 and working under now-RB Leipzig manager Julian Nagelsmann.
Those experiences prompted Stuttgart to come calling, and he steered their path back to Germany’s top flight after they were relegated in 2018–19. Matarazzo will now hope to stabilize the club after they were also demoted in 2016–17. It’s a historic club, one that’s secured five Bundesliga titles and lifted the trophy recently as 2006–07.
The above American born-and-bred distinction is needed with FC Schalke’s manager being David Wagner, a German-born ex-striker who earned eight caps with the US men’s national team. Wagner took over Schalke in 2019 after previously leading Huddersfield Town back to England’s Premier League perch for the 2017-18 season.
For more on Matarazzo's coaching path, check out this American Soccer Now story by Brian Sciaretta.