Top Stories

Arena revels in another MLS Cup championship



CARSON, Calif. – Make it three MLS championships for 60-year-old Bruce Arena, and no coach has more since the inception of the league in 1996.

Just another feather in the cap for the 2011 MLS Coach of the Year, who appeared to be letting it all soak in as he sat down to speak with reporters after his Los Angeles Galaxy defeated the Houston Dynamo 1-0 Sunday night for the MLS Cup.

"I had beer and champagne poured all over me," Arena said with a smile, explaining the delay in his arrival to the dais. 

Arena pulled the right string from the sideline Sunday night, subbing in forward Chris Birchall for Adam Cristman in the 57th minute and more importantly, moving Landon Donovan up from his attacking midfield position to forward.

Donovan was in position to take forward partner Robbie Keane's through-ball and kick what would be the game-winning goal in the 72nd minute.

"Always part of the thinking. It almost went like we thought it what happen," Arena said. "In and around the 60-minute mark, (we thought) that we'd make that switch bringing somebody up and moving Landon up top."

Just another piece of good strategy from Arena, who received praise from his Houston counterpart, Dom Kinnear, for consistency throughout the season as L.A. won the Supporters Shield.

 "I've got a ton of respect for Bruce and what he's done in that locker room to keep that team focused and continuing to win games the entire year while MLS is full of ups and downs," Kinnear said. "I don't think they ever had a down period as far as losing goes. That's a very detemermined group. It starts with Bruce and then it goes down to Landon and David Beckham and Robbie Keane." 

Both Beckham and Donovan took a moment to credit their coach, Beckham saying Arena "got us prepared," and Donovan, long an associate of Arena's in MLS and with the U.S. national team, offering further praise.

"Bruce is so good at analyzing the game and figuring out what we need," Donovan said, his remark prompting Arena to stretch his arms over the shoulders of two of his biggest star players, like a father with his sons.

"There's times through it all where you get tired, and mentally you wear down, but this guy keeps us going. Bruce is on us constantly but he keeps us going," Donovan added.

Motivator, leader and architect of a supporting cast of veterans and draft choices (as general manager) that was just as instrumental to the Galaxy's success this season as the team's stars, Arena finally got the championship that had eluded him since coming to L.A. in 2008. He hadn't won one since 1996 and 1997 at D.C. United.

The key was maintaining a core of players and not losing many pieces to other teams. The Galaxy's Gregg Berhalter also noted a change in the culture of the team with the arrival of Arena to one with a foundation built on defense. 

"It's not easy. It's one of the great challenges in the league. You get to a certain plateau with teams and then you have to kind them knock them down a little bit to adhere to the various rules and regulations, and we were able to keep most of the guys here," Arena said. "We lost Edson Buddle, we lost a couple of others but it's not easy and that's also part of the challenge."

Arena acknowledged that the shelf-life of a consistently successful team is diminishing.

"Right now the way we do things, you probably have a little bit of a short window to be good and win some things," he said, "and then you have to start all over again."


  1. Arena deserves this, but the Galaxy could play with a lot more offensive flair. He still gets unnecessarily defensive with his tactics and substitutions. Klinsmann is good for USA right now.

  2. If Klinsmann even does half as well as Bruce Area did as his stint with the USMNT, he will be a big success. Remember Arena brought the USMNT to FOURTH in the FIFA rankings, a spot we can only gaze upward to being mired now somewhere in the 30’s.

    Arena’s coaching meme, has followed many of the great NFL coaches in that when he took over as US Men’s coach from Sampson, he built the team from the back, with a solid defense.

    In 1996 When Bruce took over, the US had very few reliable offensive weapons, and having a great defense meas that you would always be close in hard matches. His “counter-attack” style was copied by Bob Bradly. Bruce Arena though, had the ability to select the type a players that could accomplish what he set out to do. And though his player selections and sub patters were thoroughly questioned during the disastrous 2006 World Cup, he usually got it right

    He did the same with the Galaxy drafting Gonzales and De la Garza then Franklin to build one of the best back lines in the MLS.

    What is amazing is that the whole Galaxy back line are all Americans, yet few have been called up by Bradley and now Klinsmann. With all the trouble the USMNT team had with it’s back line, it seemed calling up one or two if not the whole back line, would go a long way to alleviate some of the uncertainty you have with injuries to Gooch etc.

    After the seemingly blockhead moves, in firing Sigi Schmid WHILE THE GALAXY WERE LEADING THE MLS and bringing in Sampson, then LALAS as GM and Ruud Gullit, the Galaxy finally got it right with Bruce Arena.

    With or without Beckham, the Galaxy will continue to get even better as the Galaxy management will make funds available to Bruce to go to the DP market and bring back pedigreed and non-pedigreed players. that will always make the Galaxy tough to beat.

  3. You’re right, by far the best American coach. He has won on every level he’s coached at. He gets the best out of his players. Not sure you can say the same for that muppet Klinsman.

  4. Not a great post. You would think Arena (the subject) would garner more then two sentences. We didn’t learn anything new…disappointing.

  5. This. I went from soaring elation when I saw a news title saying harkes was out right back to weary, empty sadness when I saw it would probably be Twellman replacing him

  6. Arena gets a lot of criticism for all the so-called negatives: the 2006 WC, his stint with the Red Bulls, plus his sometime abrasive manner, but doesn’t get enough credit for all he’s done. He is the most accomplished coach we’ve had. I’m not saying there aren’t other good coaches out there, but he should be lauded for his body of work.

  7. on a related note, rumor has it that John Harkes is out and Taylor Twellman is in as ESPN’s lead analyst in the booth for MLS and U.S. Soccer broadcasts in 2012.

    So we’re going from bad to worse I guess…

  8. I don’t think Robbie is going anywhere-he made a point to say that he wouldn’t pull a Beckham and try getting playing time in the winter to be in form for the Euro’s, he said a break would actually be good for him. I hope Landon and Becks go, Keane stays.

  9. What a great night. In what other sport can you rub shoulders with so many luminaries? We tail-gated right next to the LA Galaxy’s play-by-play man, who took ten minutes out of his day to kick the ball around with my ten year old boy. We met writers, players, broadcasters, coaches – the MLS is so accessible. And the Galaxy wrote the final chapter on a phenomenal season. Thanks to Bruce, Landon, and David for putting so much effort into the season.

    Now of course comes the $6 million dollar question – who will be left next spring? Juninho and Leonardo’s loans are up. European clubs will be calling for Omar. Franklin’s contract is up. Keane was only booked for the season. And of course, whither Sir David?

    I hope they all come back, but either way – I just booked another season ticket for next season at the HDC. Go Galaxy!

  10. Interesting how we had a torrential downpour on opening day and a torrential downpour at the final. Mother nature was just adding to the drama.

  11. Even though the rain dampered some of the festivities, the entire event was awesome. …So much better than the Super Bowl in Dallas earlier in the year.


Leave a Comment