Bruce Arena has been named manager of the United States men’s national team for a second time, the U. S. Soccer Federation announced on Tuesday.
Arena replaces Jurgen Klinsmann, who was dismissed on Monday after five years in charge.
Arena previously managed the U. S. from 1998-2006, during which time he recorded a record of 71 wins, 30 losses and 29 draws, and led the Americans to the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup.
That tournament included a memorable 2-0 defeat of rivals Mexico in the round of 16 and marked the U. S. team’s highest finish since reaching the semifinals of the inaugural World Cup in 1930.
Arena was not able to replicate that success during his second cycle in charge, as the U. S. failed to reach the knockout stages of the 2006 World Cup from a group that included eventual champions Italy.
“When we considered the possible candidates to take over the men’s national team at this time, Bruce was at the top of the list,” U. S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati said in a statement.
“His experience at the international level, understanding of the requirements needed to lead a team through World Cup qualifying, and proven ability to build a successful team were all aspects we felt were vital for the next coach. We all know Bruce will be fully committed to preparing the players for the next eight qualifying games and earning a berth to an eighth-straight FIFA World Cup in Russia.”
Arena takes over a team that has lost its first two games in the final round of World Cup qualifying to Mexico and Costa Rica. The U. S. is bottom of the six-team CONCACAF group on goal differential.
There are eight games remaining in the Hexagonal, with the next set of games taking place next March, including a home game against Honduras as well as an away encounter in Panama.
“Any time you get the opportunity to coach the national team it’s an honor,” Arena said in the statement. “I’m looking forward to working with a strong group of players that understand the challenge in front of them after the first two games of the Hex. Working as a team, I’m confident that we’ll take the right steps forward to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.”
Arena’s first task could be to mend relations with the team’s contingent of foreign-born players. In an interview with ESPN The Magazine in 2013, Arena said: “Players on the national team should be — and this is my own feeling — they should be Americans. If they’re all born in other countries, I don’t think we can say we are making progress.”
In a podcast with Fox Sports’ Alexi Lalas in April of this year, Arena clarified his remarks, stating that, “If you hold a passport, you’re eligible to play for the national team. I understand that and have no problem with that. In this day and age — our country’s a melting pot, so to say that you need to be born in the U. S. to play for the national team is a ridiculous point of view.
“But having said that, I think that if you play for the national team, regardless of your background and how you got that passport, it’s gotta be important to you. You have to play with pride, and to me, that’s an important characteristic to have as a national team player.”
Arena, 65, began his head coaching career at the University of Virginia in 1978, and spent the next 18 years with the Cavaliers, winning five national championships. In 1996, MLS began play and Arena was hired to coach D. C. United.
Arena had instant success with the Black-and-Red, winning the first two MLS Cup titles, a Supporters’ Shield, as well as the 1996 U. S. Open Cup. It was that success that Arena parleyed into his first stint with the U.S. national team.
After being dismissed by current USSF president Sunil Gulati in 2006, Arena joined up with the New York Red Bulls, but accomplished little during his 16 months in charge, and he was dismissed after the 2007 season.
In 2008, Arena signed on with the LA Galaxy, where he has had considerably more success. He has won three MLS Cups and two Supporters’ Shields during his eight years in charge and was named the league’s coach of the year in 2009 and 2011.
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