BERLIN (AP) — Despite Stuttgart’s struggles in the Bundesliga, U.S. coach Pellegrino Matarazzo has no doubt the club is on the right track.

Matarazzo’s side have failed to win any of their last nine league games and they sit second from bottom in a direct relegation spot with 10 rounds remaining. But the New Jersey native firmly believes it’s only a matter of time before the turnaround.

“When we win, we will start rolling. The guys are on board, we are working hard. We have enough quality in the team. So it’s just about getting that first hit to get the next one,” Matarazzo said Monday night in a video call with reporters.


Late goals have cost his side important points in recent games.

Stuttgart won with five minutes remaining, then conceded two goals to spare against Hoffenheim on Saturday, while the side conceded an injury-time equalizer against Bochum the previous week.

“My approach is never to call it luck. It’s always about investing more. Just a few percent more,” said Matarazzo, whose side will face Borussia Mönchengladbach on Saturday.

Matarazzo was a former defender who played for lower league sides in Germany before becoming a coach with the reserves and youth teams at Nuremberg. He was assistant to current Bayern Munich manager Julian Nagelsmann when they were both at Hoffenheim in 2018 and landed the Stuttgart job in December 2019. He brought the club back to the Bundesliga on the first attempt and guided him to a commendable ninth place in his first top. -flight season.

The club extended his contract last February.

This season has had a bumpy start with coronavirus infections and lengthy injury layoffs for key players such as Austrian striker Saša Kalajdžić, who scored 16 goals last season.

“It was just a continuous destabilization of the team with a lot of players fighting over each other,” Matarazzo said.

Stuttgart has one of the youngest teams in the division, the result of the club’s decision to invest in youth and their development in order to safeguard their future. Matarazzo is fully committed to the strategy, saying it “makes sense” at a time when transfer fees for developed players put them out of reach for smaller clubs whose finances have been further constrained by the impact of the coronavirus crisis. pandemic.

“We’ve seen big jumps in the market value of the players we have in the squad, that’s what we do. That’s our job,” Matarazzo said. on player development while staying in the league. So if we play in the second division next year, each player will have less market value.

ITALIAN FOOTBALL FANS

Growing up in New Jersey, Matarazzo and his family were Napoli fans, watching Serie A on a small television in his father’s bedroom.

“At some point it became bigger television,” he said, still remembering the goals scored by Maradona. “We watched all the goals and watched the free kicks he scored and we just celebrated every goal he scored. A few days after the big family meals we would go to the park and I would be Maradona or my dad would be (Brazilian striker) Careca. We used to pick different players and live out that fantasy and that passion. That was definitely a big part of us.

Matarazzo also recalled idolizing Italian striker Roberto Baggio and American players Tab Ramos, Marcelo Balboa and Tony Meola, “also a guy from New Jersey…when my brother was playing goalie, he was also Tony Meola.”

Although Germany is his home after more than 20 years in the country, Matarazzo regularly keeps in touch with his family in the United States, even if they sometimes tease him.

“The worst for me was when I came home one last time. And my aunt said, ‘Hey Rino, you have an accent when you speak English.’ I said what? No I do not know. It’s true, I think that in German, I have an accent when I speak English, and it’s a bit embarrassing.

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Ciaran Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP