Oakland Roots Sign Bay Area Soccer Legend Paul Bravo as First Head Coach
Oakland, Calif. (May 9, 2019) – Oakland Roots have signed Bay Area soccer legend Paul Bravo as the club’s first head coach.
Bravo comes to Oakland as one of the most decorated players in Bay Area history, with championships at nearly every level of soccer from his time as a prep in San Jose to his professional playing days in MLS. For Bravo, the opportunity to come home and coach a team from its infancy along with one of his former teammates, Roots Technical Consultant Eric Yamamoto, was too good to pass up.
“After sitting down with Chair Steven Aldrich, President Benno Nagel and Technical Consultant Eric Yamamoto, I knew this was the perfect opportunity for me to do something special,” Bravo said. “The mission and vision of this club is amazing. You don’t get too many opportunities in life to start at the ground floor with an organization and build something completely new, and this is exactly that.”
"We are excited to welcome Paul Bravo to the Roots family and the city of Oakland,” said Roots Technical Consultant Eric Yamamoto. “Paul's resume speaks for itself. His experience and quality shows the commitment that our club is bringing to our community. We are excited to bring the Roots style of football to our supporters. Paul is the perfect manager to bring us into our inaugural season. I could not be more excited to be able to secure Paul as our manager."
"When Eric first brought Paul to the table as a candidate, we knew from the start that it was going to be a no brainer for us to sign him,” said Roots President Benno Nagel. “While the accolades he has achieved as both a player, coach and executive speak for themselves, he has been able to achieve these levels of success by working through a methodology and framework that we as an organization feel can establish a foundation for Roots now and well beyond 2019. In Paul, we not only have a coach who can lead our club onto the field, but have a leader who can exemplify the values that we as a club will uphold off the field and in our local community."
Among his pinnacle achievements as a player, was winning the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in 1994 as a member of San Francisco’s Greek-American AC. Bravo and that squad were the last amateur team to win America’s oldest national soccer tournament.
Bravo has played at every level of soccer in the Bay Area. He was a varsity letter-winner for Santa Teresa High School in his native San Jose, then went on to win back-to-back state championships for Foothill Community College in Los Altos. Next, Bravo transferred to Santa Clara University and led their team to an NCAA co-national championship in 1989 alongside Roots Technical Consultant Eric Yamamoto. Bravo went on to play for the San Francisco Bay Blackhawks of the American Professional Soccer League (APSL), signing his first professional contract in 1991.
In 1996, the San Jose Clash (now Earthquakes) selected Bravo with the No. 8 overall pick in Major League Soccer’s Inaugural Player Draft. He started and played a full 90 minutes in the first game in MLS history, a 1-0 win for the Clash against D.C. United on April 6, 1996. He scored 52 goals during his MLS career, which spanned from 1996-01. Bravo also represented the U.S. National Team as a player, earning four caps and scoring one goal, which came in the 1999 Confederations Cup.
“After being away for so long, I’m excited to get a chance to give back to the soccer community in Oakland and beyond,” Bravo said. “I really hadn’t lived in the Bay Area since I was traded from San Jose to Colorado at the end of the 1996 MLS season, so to be back here working with young soccer players at De Anza Force this past year, and now this role with Roots; it’s all incredibly meaningful to me.”
Bravo has 15 years of experience as a coach and technical director. After he retired from playing, he spent two years as an assistant for the Colorado Rapids, then took the same role at NCAA powerhouse UCLA. He moved back into professional soccer as an assistant with the LA Galaxy for three seasons, then returned to the Rapids to serve as technical director from 2009-16, winning MLS Cup in 2010.
Following his time with the Rapids, Bravo returned to the Bay Area to work with vaunted U.S. Soccer Development Academy program De Anza Force. In addition to his role with Roots, Bravo will continue to oversee De Anza Force as well as girls powerhouse California Thorns FC.
About Oakland Roots
More than just a club, more than just a game. Oakland Roots Sports Club seeks to harness the magic of Oakland and the beautiful game of soccer as a force for social good. Whether on the pitch, in the stands or within the community, Oakland Roots will represent our one-of-a-kind city with passion, pride, and commitment to all things Oakland. Player by player. Supporter by supporter. Resident by resident. One day at a time. One game at a time. This is about Oakland first, always.