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Arena open to returning to coach in MLS


                                                                                 Howard C. Smith/ISI PHOTOS

Bruce Arena is enjoying life these days. Between spending most of his time playing golf, and some of his time working as a TV color analyst for the Kansas City Wizards, Arena is enjoying life away from the stress of being a soccer coach.

That doesn’t mean he doesn’t want back on the bench.

"Yeah it is," Arena said when asked if coaching was something that was a possibility for him to return to. "I’ve talked to people. I had a potential opportunity in the off-season and I turned it down.

"I didn’t think it was time to jump right back into it," Arena said. "I’ll entertain anything that makes sense.”

So what makes sense? Given the struggles of his former team, the D.C. United job could become a possibility if head coach Tom Soehn can’t turn things around with his floundering squad.

D.C. United suffered a 3-1 loss to Chivas USA on Saturday night to drop D.C. to 2-6, a staggering record given the resources spent on new players this past off-season. D.C. United’s struggles could eventually lead to the departure of Soehn and potential return of Arena.

An Arena-D.C. reunion makes sense because the same man who Arena worked with during his first stint with D.C. United a dozen years ago is still in charge. Kevin Payne, D.C. president and one of the most respected team official in MLS, is still team president and his presence provides the very stability Arena mentioned when discussing the type of MLS coaching job that would appeal to him.

“I’d consider anything that makes sense,” Arena said about potential coaching jobs. “What I learned here, more than anything, is that organization is important, and that your front office is an important part of the team on the field. It’s got to be good experience and the right kind of support to move forward."

What do you think about Arena potentially returning to MLS? Where would you see him going? D.C.? Philadelphia? Seattle? Share your thoughts below.


  1. ugh…not in Philly, I hope. I’m sick of Arena. If he’s Philly’s first coach, his negativity, stubbornness and arrogance would suck all the fun out of a new team and a new stadium and a great new fanbase. Also, it’ll be tough for any coach to make inroads with the anti-soccer Philly sports media, and Arena will be terrible in this respect. He doesn’t even respect MLS as a product. Please, not in Philly!

  2. How about RSL? Wasn’t Garth Lagerway, the GM for RSL involved with DCU before? Was it when Arena was there or after he left? I think RSL has about 75% of the puzzle put together. I don’t think that Kreis can put together the last 25% but I think Arena could.

  3. Hmmmm, that you characterize the style Schmetzer has the Sounder’s play as “Direct” is interesting. If by the term you mean “kick and chase longball” then Derby or Ipswich or Rochester is what might be so characterized, but definitely not the Sounders. Seattle under Schmetzer has played a cohesive, passing, “sliding field” style of play. This would be plausibly characterized as Direct only if you were comparing it to Catenaccio… The limitations of the USL side are of lower average talent, not of style or coaching. As perhaps Haig can experience for himself next year, when a substantially strenghtened Sounders team enters MLS.

    By the way, although Chivas last year underestimated Seattle, Colorado did not. Their starting team was the best Clavijo could field at the time. As was Dallas’ [which gave all spectators the unexpected pleasure of seeing the diminutive Alvarez-Cuellar humiliate Denilson again, and again, and again….which should have been a warning to Dallas right then and there].

    Until then, General Haig.

  4. It wouldn’t surprise me if Bruce Arena went to DC. I think things would have been better for Arena if he had taken time off from coaching after the National Team instead of jumping into a job with RBNY, but I am sure Energy Drink money was what he couldn’t pass up.

    And it would not surprise me that if he did get the DC job that he’d win MLS Cup in a season cause that is the kind of luck RBNY has.

  5. Does anyone know if Mathis is out of a contract at Ergotelis? Maybe we could see him returning back to the States.

  6. That direct play may work nicely against MLS’s reserves and USL1, but they will get carved up by most MLS sides.

  7. No doubt what Haig meant, but was distracted by Hilarity this Sunday morn, is:

    “You mean the guy who last year led the Sounders to a USL championship while having them charging through the US Open Cup, past Chivas 2-1, absolutely clobbering Colorado 5-0 [a game not as close as the score indicated], before being denied 2-1 by Dallas, in the semifinals, on a preposterous penalty call by the ref?

    The guy who then let about a third of his squad go to better opportunities in the USL because he was fair to them and advised them that –although better than average USL players–they had no reasonable chance for the MLS side to come: keeping only a few top players who do have that reasonable chance, and a squad of youngsters looking towards the future. The guy who did this knowing that it would hamper this last USL season but both better prepare the team for the move to the top flight and not deny opportunities to players just for the sake of this last, meaningless, season’s standing?

    Oh, yes, the same guy who has led the Sounders to victory over Preston North End, to a draw with Cardiff City [you know, the team that just played in the FA Cup final], and a narrow 1-0 defeat at Sunderland, very much against the run of play.

    That guy?”

    Well, Haig, in Seattle where they do know there soccer,no one seems to care a keg for Haig

  8. “Philly can have him. We want Schmetzer.”–Posted by:

    You mean the guy who has you fourth from the bottom of USL1? Hilarious. Seattle, where no one seems to have any idea what soccer is.

  9. The problem I had with Bruce is that he is stubborn. How can a substitute do anything in 5 minutes of action. How can Hunter Freeman be benched in place of Chris Leitch for multiple games? I just didn’t understand his insistence on perplexing scenarios.

  10. I don’t think Arena is a bad coach at all. I think his strengths lie in organization and scouting. The problem I had with him by the end of his stint with RBNY is that he lacked emotion. It just seemed like he didn’t care and his blunt attitude, which at first endeared him to RBNY fans, came across as indifference after a while.

  11. Brant, I’ve read elsewhere a couple days ago that Arena had been contacted just to see if he would have any interest if things with Soehn didn’t work out.

    I would love it because it would be another story to follow.

  12. It would be a good move from a rivalry pov. He made poor choices at WC ’06, made poor player moves in NY, but he didn’t get a fair chance at NY. He’s still a good coach.

  13. As long as they limit him to written statements I don’t care where he coaches… I got so sick of his press conferences with the MNT I can’t stand to hear him anymore!

  14. I like the idea of him in Philly, with the natural NY rivalry built in.

    I also wonder whether or not DC is a real possibility, or if Ives just stirred up one heckuva hornets nest that’s going to make Soehn’s life a lot harder, with no great basis in fact.

    Not that I don’t mind another DC distraction, since it can only help The Crew.

  15. Arena in Philadelphia would be a perfect fit. He’s a known entity and he’ll bring legitimacy to a new organization. If they hire him now, he’ll also have an opportunity to participate in player selection, which is a strength of his.

  16. ps. I beleive I have suggested this exact scenario on prior posts and I got hammered. Maybe now that Ives has suggested it, there is some credibility?

  17. I would welcome Bruce back to DC. There are clearly personnel issues that DC is dealing with which would still be a problem with Bruce but Tom has consistently been outcoached both in last year’s playoffs as well as this entire season. John Harkes can come too!

  18. Up late, eh??

    I think Arena back at DC would be a good move. It would definitely be an interesting story to follow.


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