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Milwaukee coaching legend Gansler hospitalized after stroke

01/25/2015, 11:00pm CST
Bob Gansler

Legendary Milwaukee soccer coach Bob Gansler was in a Brookfield hospital Sunday after suffering a stroke Saturday morning.

The 73-year-old Gansler, who coached the U.S. national team at the 1990 World Cup and is a member of the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame, improved enough to be moved out of intensive care Sunday, according to Bavarian SC director of coaching Bob Spielmann – one of his former players and a longtime friend.

Gansler was born in Hungary, but has called the Milwaukee area home since 1952. The Marquette University graduate made 25 appearances for the U.S. national team, captaining the 1964 and '68 Olympic sides and the 1963 and '67 Pan-American teams, and also starred for the Bavarians locally.

He started his coaching career in 1973, establishing the boys soccer program at Milwaukee Marquette – the Hilltoppers have become Wisconsin's most successful program, winning 25 state titles.

Gansler then was the UW-Milwaukee men's coach from 1984 to '88, compiling a 54-39-8 overall record before being named U.S. national team coach on Jan. 16, 1989. He led the U.S. to a berth in the World Cup in Italy, the country's first appearance in the event in 40 years. While the Americans lost all three of their group matches that year, they have gone on to qualify for all six tournaments since. Gansler, who also had stints coaching the Under-19 and Under-20 national teams, finished with a 15-17-5 record in three years as national team coach.

Gansler returned home to lead the Milwaukee Rampage from 1996 to '98, guiding them to the USISL A-League title in 1997, then was named coach of Major League Soccer's Kansas City Wizards in 1999. In eight seasons, he led the Wizards (since renamed Sporting Kansas City) to the MLS Cup title and Supporters' Shield in 2000 and the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup championship in 2004 – Gansler was named MLS Coach of the Year in 2000.

He spent one season as an assistant with MLS expansion side Toronto FC in 2007, and has been a staff coach at Elm Grove SC since 2008.

Gansler is a member of least five Halls of Fame: the Wisconsin Adult Soccer Association (inducted in 1987), United Soccer Leagues (2002), National Soccer Coaches Association of America (2009), Wisconsin Soccer Coaches Association (2010) and the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame (2011).

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