CARSON, Calif. — In the fledgling years of Bruce Arena’s coaching career, he had to take a gig as an assistant with the University of Virginia lacrosse team to make ends meet, as his job as the school’s soccer coach paid too little, and he wasn’t sure if soccer was the right sport for him anyway.
At the conclusion of Saturday night’s 2-1 victory over the visiting Columbus Crew, Arena crossed a rarified threshold, notching his 200th career MLS regular season victory, joining Sigi Schmid as the only coaches to reach that milestone.
Safe to say, coaching soccer was the right choice.
“I’m honored” Arena said when asked about his milestone win. “I’m honored to have coached some great players in this league, and that’s the reason I’ve been able to pile up a few wins along the way.”
While it is undeniable that Arena has indeed enjoyed some stellar talent on his rosters – you may have heard of Landon Donovan and David Beckham? – the sustained results Arena has accumulated suggest there’s more to his win-loss record than just always having better guys to run out onto the pitch.
Arena’s career is storied. He led UVA to five NCAA championships in his 18 years at the school. He coached D.C. United to two MLS Cups, and then led the Galaxy to three more. He also led the U.S. National team to it’s deepest World Cup run in decades, when the U.S. knocked off Mexico in in South Korea to reach the quarterfinals.
Despite the success, Arena insists his focus remains on the field, his players, and his results, not on himself. When he was asked if the 200th win meant something to him, he was taciturn.
“At the moment I would say no? You know, I think when I look back on this, it may mean something, but as I said, I think when you win a fair amount of games coaching, I think it’s because you have good teams, good players,” Arena said. “I think that that’s the most important thing. I never really get all hung up on those things. I know one day it will be important. I think, uh, probably for my grandchildren to read about it.”