Michael Bradley‘s Italian job is underway. After stints in Holland, Germany, and England, the unnaturally bald (at least partially), often bold, midfielder will try to conquer Serie A — a league few American’s have even tried to kickabout in. Few Americans are also familiar with his new home AC Chievo. Here are a few things you should know about his new soccer team.
1. Associazione Calcio Chievo Verona – Ok, first the basics. The club is pronounced Ke-ye-VO and it’s in Verona. The team is named after the Chievo section of the city (And yes, Verona is the home of Romeo and Juliet). Bradley and his newly wedded wife, Amanda Barletta, should enjoy life in the lovely northern Italian city; it’s less than a 2 hour train ride from Venice and less than 3 hours from Lake Como — in case they want to spend some quality time with George Clooney.
If they can’t score a play-date with Clooney, then they will have plenty of cake to console themselves — the team is owned by Paluani, a cake company.
2. il derby della Scala – Bradley’s new team is one of the smallest clubs in Serie A; and they aren’t even the biggest or most popular team in their own city. Chievo are the Clippers of Verona. Well, if the Lakers played in the CBA. Hellas Verona is the big dog in town but they are stuck Serie B these days. Like the Clippers and Lakers, both Verona teams share a stadium — Marco Antonio Bentagodi Stadium. And they also share colors; both are yellow and blue – gialloblu in Italian.
3. The Flying Donkeys – The team’s nickname is the flying donkeys. A moniker that comes from a song Hellas Verona supporters used to sing before Chievo made its way to Serie A. The song said, “donkeys would fly before Chievo made it to Serie A.” The asses are aloft. Forza Chievo!
4. Americano in Serie A – Few Americans have found success in the Italian top flight. Alexi Lalas’s stint at Padova (1994-1996) is the only successful run for an Americano in the modern era.
According to Soccer America, “At least two Italian-Americans from the New York metropolitan area – Alfonso Negro and Armando Frigo – played in Serie A in the 1930s and 1940s.”
Unless, you count Guiseppi Rossi‘s brief run at Parma. He made 19 appearances on loan in 2007, scoring 9 times — nine times. Oguchi Oneywu‘s move to AC Milan in 2009 looked like a breakthrough for Yanks in Italy, but his injury-plagued spell with the Rossoneri ended without him making a single league appearance.
Bradley says he’s long been an admirer of Serie A and showed his knowledge of Italian Calcio in this 2010 interview with US Soccer where he named Italy’s 2006 World Cup final starting 11 from memory. Watch.
Bradley reveals more about his move to Italy in his first interview as a flying donkey, with the city of Verona as a backdrop.
5. The Calcio: The blue and yellow finished 11th out of 20 teams in Serie A last season. Bradley’s move from ‘Gladbach is seen by many as a lateral move, but if he can prove himself with Chievo — the deep-pocketed suitors will come calling; he’s still only 24-years-old. Bradley certainly won’t be guaranteed a spot in the first-team, he’ll have to earn a starting position. Finding regular playing time will be more important than ever for Bradley as his slot in the US national team is not ironclad these days under Jurgen Klinsmann.
The strike delayed Serie A season is set to kick-off on Friday when AC Milan face Lazio (2:30 p.m. ET Fox Soccer). Chievo start their campaign Sunday against promoted side Novara (9 a.m. ET — check your local internet stream listings).
Serie A: Michael Bradley At Chievo Verona [The Shin Guardian]
Michael Bradley’s Q&A with US Soccer [US Soccer]
Ballad of the Flying Donkeys [In Bed with Maradona]