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Report: Arena to take over as USMNT head coach

Photo by Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports
Photo by Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports

U.S. Soccer moved on from Jurgen Klinsmann on Monday afternoon, but the U.S. Men’s National Team head coaching search will reportedly turn back to a familiar face.

Goal USA reported on Monday that Bruce Arena will take over for his second stint as USMNT boss. Arena, who has managed the Galaxy for eight years, will reportedly be confirmed as USMNT manager on Tuesday.

Arena previously coached the USMNT through the 2002 and 2006 World Cups, with the former serving as the team’s best World Cup performance in the modern era. Since leaving the U.S. job, Arena claimed three MLS Cups with the Galaxy, bringing his total MLS championships to five after winning two with D.C. United prior to his first USMNT stint.

The man he replaces, Klinsmann, was dismissed by U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati on Monday afternoon following a pair of World Cup qualifying defeats. Klinsmann’s contract was set to run through the 2018 World Cup.



  1. This is a stop-gap move to get us through the next 2 years, not a long term replacement. I’d like to see Kreis or Porter get the nod depending on how they do over the next 2 in MLS. It’s esentially a 2 year interview for them.

  2. I’d rather see Sigi Schmidt than Arena v2.0

    Sigi and Bruce have enjoyed the same success in NCAA and MLS. I guess Sigi is lined up for LAFC but maybe he’d take Nats duty over another MLS gig.

  3. I’m already curious who makes Arenas 23:
    – I’d bet Chandler is out even if he’s the best RB in Germany
    – I’d bet Jones, AronJo, Julian, Zusi are on the outside looking in
    – Wondo and Beckerman just got officially retired
    – Bedoya and Brooks are nervous…for now
    – I hope guys like Kesseweiter, Boyd, etc. keep working hard
    – Lleggett, Rogers, Nagbe, maybe even Benny get looks

    • With the exception of Beckerman all the players you named will still have good chances of being called back up. Maybe not Wondo, but if he has another good season in MLS he could still get called in. I doubt the 23 looks all that different with the exception of maybe a few more LB options. It wasn’t the talent JK brought in it was how he played them. We’ll see some new guys get looks in January, but that’s what January camp is for and the European players and Liga MX players are unavailable then.

  4. Bruce Arena is not my national team coach. Im moving to Canada…but first im going to riot and destroy my own neighborhood (after Soros pays me) then im gonna block the entrances of major commercial stores that have nothing to so with it and then Im gonna ask my college professor for a sancutary room that i can go cry in.

    Kick and run soccer is back!!!!!!!!! everyone sit back and wait for a counter attack!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Arena is a good stop gap and will probably get the use qualified. I’d like someone with a clear tactical perspective that would have every player in the pool know the system so no matter what injuries you encounter window to window the next man up can be plugged in. LVG

    • It’d be nice if our entire program was a place where every player in the pool know the system. I don’t see an MLS guy having that kind of grand scale vision to implement it where it’d pay dividends for decades down the road, unfortunately.

  6. Pretty sure this is all a sinister plan for the Galaxy to get Jurgen as a DP, aging euro star anyone? But seriously I could see him as Bruce’s replacement.

    • It’s a good question and you already know the answer. but it is hypothetical. People seem to forget that we only have to beat Honduras, Panama and T&T to qualify, and only two of those teams to make the playoffs, as Mexico did last cycle.Mexico had to win their playoff to make the WC. England easily won their group to make the WC. England didn’t get out of their group, Mexico did. So who had the better year? Mexico, of course, since it’s all about how well you did in the WC. How you get there is immaterial and unimportant. Also, in 2010 Uruguay only got there by beating Costa Rica in a playoff and then went all the way to the semis.

    • Arena supporter here… If we fail to qualify, at least it will be someone making steady decisions and a track record of putting players and teams playing at their maximum level. There was no choice with Klinsmann, and it was that way because of the things that he did. Meaning he was not good tactically, and for as charming and visionary-like as he sounded, he had many many PR and personnel blunders. Arena will be manage the players better and play simply (very similar to Sir Alex) — within whichever formation he chooses — so that his players have the opportunity to perform without overcomplicating the game. If we don’t qualify it will be on Arena, but at least we can have a good feeling that the players will be managed with stability.

    • It would clearly be Arena’s fault. He has months to prepare for the next set of games and two of the three toughest games in the Hex are behind him. Any manager worth his salt — including JK — should get us qualified in our region. I don’t think qualification is the standard though. That’s the floor.

    • Blame would have to go on Gulati for waiting so long to pull the trigger. Our team is a mirror of US Soccer/Gulati…. reactionary… slow of thought-lacking in incisive decision making or creativity. Watching Sunil make this or any other decision is uncanny in it’s similarity to Beckerman or Bradley at midfield…. receive the ball, pick up head…. look around…. ponder… and then………………… back pass.

  7. Anyone but Bruce Arena. He disgraced himself from American soccer already. This is not a safe pick if that’s what people are thinking.

  8. I remember this US manager that surprisingly shifted to a 3-5-2 when his starting CB got hurt in a match against Mexico with just two days training to prepare and then in the next match played his RB as a RM. Oh yeah, his name Bruce Arena. Obviously, we don’t know how much the US practiced the 3-5-2 in the month leading up to the match, and Frankie Hejduk played much better than TImmy Chandler, but the big key is Arena tinkered and won, JK tinkered and lost. Had CP been able to pull the trigger and hit that early goal like McBride did who knows what we’d be saying. Soccer you are a fickle old bird.

    • In the article about Bob Bradley I pointed out that who you play when may have a lot to do with how a coach is perceived. If we had finished second to T&T in the first round, we would have had Costa Rica at home and Honduras on the road. A lot better chance we would have gotten results in that scenario and Klinsmann is probably still coach. My college football team lost this weekend by one point because they went for 2 points to win at the very end instead of the extra point to tie. They are having their best season in decades, but lots of fans immediately said the coach should be fired. Fans often fail to look at the big picture and/or get caught up in the emotion of one bad loss. After a bad loss, whatever the sport, I always wait hours until I have calmed down and mostly got over it before reaching a conclusion and posting. I think more people should do that.

    • True, but this could obviously be seen as a “body of work” decision too. He easily could have been fired after a Gold Cup and ensuing end that summer, so in some respects, he was already on borrowed time.

      • Oh definitely, just pointing out how we all jumped Klinsman for his tinkering with formation and positioning, when 14 years ago Arena did the exact same thing even against the same opponent, but because it worked he’s seen as the greatest American manager hands down.

    • Cookie cutter 4-4-2 with no imagination, vanilla style and an average outlook.

      Many would argue that’s exactly what we need in the short-term. Many would also argue it’s a complete step backwards in the grand scheme of things long-term.

      • He’s the managerial-epitome of minimizing mistakes rather than doing anything impressive, which again, could be exactly what’s needed at the USNT helm. His success in LA was earned, but had a lot to do with the multitude of designated players (with MLS routinely bending the rules for the Galaxy) and Donovan in his prime (more likely the reason).

        His recent off-season moves, however, have displayed he may have lost his touch/signs of desperation by an aging manager. There’s no coincidence he left himself an out clause because without Donovan in his prime the Galaxy didn’t earn their elite status within MLS.

      • They usually passed pretty well. Galaxy at their best were a very mature, slick-passing team and the worst you could really say about them was they kinda got…well, old. For awhile it seemed like LA was as good as they wanted to be, and the only thing really stopping them was they seemed to get bored on occasion. I actually thought the more aging Galacticos they signed this past couple years the worse they looked but I also got the idea there was some short-term thinking going on with the roster – as in, let’s load up with aging vets for one last hurrah – that never really panned out because I thought they just didn’t have enough in the tank. Lotta guys dropped off pretty much all at once.

      • Pretty spot on assessment with Arena. His end with USMNT was marked with a lack of ideas and tactics. The 02 team was a revelation but he had two secret unsuspecting legit players in Landon and Beasely that no one had heard of, plus McBride and Reyna two quality EPL level players. I think of him as very solid MLS caliber, like Wondo is solid.

    • Actually, he likes the style that Klinsmann said he wanted the US to play. Quick one-touch passing, good movement off the ball,control possession, quick attacks and counter attacks before the defense can get set. I remember a friendly against Japan in 2005 where he had the US team play that way for a whole game and pretty much bossed Japan off the field. I have also seen the Galaxy play that way at times. However, what a coach wants a team to do and what they end up doing are not always in sync. In the 2006 World Cup the team was disjointed and played like a deer in the headlights vs. Czechoslovakia and the Galaxy of late have played that way occasionally, but too often have not and have looked pretty poor.

      • The team was completely unprepared for that first game. Jan Koller dominated them. The US couldn’t match his size and Rosicky ran circles. Arena was caught flat footed. To be fair Koller was injured and didn’t return for the tournament.. but still they came into the tournament way flat.

    • They’ve used a 4-5-1 or 4-3-3 for most of the last two seasons at Galaxy. That probably has more to do with the players than Arena’s preferred style. LA had a ton of injuries this season and couldn’t find anyone to play the CM roles which really hurt. They were hoping Gerrard could be Beckham, but he wasn’t. Cole and Gio have been good singings and Van Damme received post season accolades, so not sure about the criticism for his veteran signings even DeJong played pretty well just wasn’t a good fit with his reputation in MLS.

  9. This would be a safe hire by Gulati. The imaginative hire would be Oscar Pareja who might be a foreign coach seemingly, but has roots to MLS for a long time. The fact that he has had success at Colorado and FC Dallas, without the aid of big named DP’s but through developing youth, shows that this would be a ideal direction for the national team.

    The problem that US Soccer faces is that the landscape is way different than most European nations and we cannot go after a Hiddink, Bielsa, or big name who has no clue about our background. Our manager has to have a respect for MLS, Liga MX, and all of the European leagues because our talent is spread out. I think Pareja is ahead of most tactically and would do more than Arena going longterm.

    With that being said, Arena is a great choice as a stopgap because he’s done it before. He understands CONCACAF and can hit the ground running in a time when we have no margin for error with 8 games to play in the Hex. Maybe he’s learned from 2006 but this is a sideways move for the national team which has lost it’s identity.

    • For an alleged troll you’re thinking exactly like I’m thinking. I like Pareja and I’d personally choose him to be next but I’d also like to give Pareja a full cycle to implement his ideas and system rather than just have him come in two games into the hex when we’re already 0-2 in the hole and Hey Man, Save Us.

      Much rather Pareja be able to do his thing working in young players – probably half of FC Dallas’s young players, actually – into the USMNT pool. I LOVE the way Pareja’s teams zip the ball around…he puts a relentless striker up top, some creative midfielders in the middle who can make that soccerball dance, and then some Big Hoss specimens like Hedges and Zimmerman in the back. Especially when you’ve got a wizard like Mauro Diaz – who might be the most criminally underrated soccer player on the planet – at the 10-spot, Oh My does Pareja’s system look slick, and it’s slick front to back.

      Also agree that a Euro guy is just not an option for us. The USA’s talent pool is far too spread out and you gotta keep an eye on about 10 different leagues.

  10. Long term its more important who we hire at Technical Director. I see our biggest needs for that position is some who understands the US soccer development pyramid and who to force changes to that pyramid.

    Also need someone who is highly respected and has contacts in Europe so we can continue to recruit dual nationals and get players trials in top leagues.

    Would love to see someone who has this experience and is also a Johan Cruyff disciple in regards to training and development.

    If it is Arena hes just a caretaker. The hire of the next Technical Director tells us more. Let that person hire the next coach after 2018 and let Sunil manage the admin and political stuff with Fifa.

  11. Here’s how you know Bruce already has the job. Last week, Bruce’s long time assistant, Dave Sarachan, quit the Galaxy, and actually said “who knows? Maybe LAFC will have something for me.”

    You can bet that Bruce told the Galaxy last week “I’m gone. Please hire Dave Sarachan. He did most of my work for me and he deserves it.” Sarachan said “yes please.” Galaxy said nope.

    So Sarachan quit, and threw in the LAFC jab on his way out the door.

    As if the Galaxy don’t have headaches enough heading into yet another murky post season rebuild, now they have to find a new coaching staff too. Well done, Galaxy. It’s a bad day when US Soccer appears to be smarter than you.

  12. I’m OK with this but we should re-evaluate after the WC (hoping we get there…).

    Short-term he is being brought in to organize the team, set clear defined tactics, and motivate. All of which I believe he can do considering his knowledge of the current crop players. My issue is his ‘resentment’ to the Germericans (near Wambachian levels) but then again he may have just been protecting the MLS.

    Anyway, something had to be done at we could be in much worse hands than Bruce.

    • My issue is his ‘resentment’ to the Germericans (near Wambachian levels) but then again he may have just been protecting the MLS

      By selling Omar Gonzalez, a US Nat in his prime, and replacing him with Jelle Van Damme, a racist player, (against Onyewu no less) nearing his mid-30’s?

      Let’s presume he was “protecting the shield” of MLS (which doesn’t make any sense in the context of his xenophobic remarks), even his actions lead to hypocrisy…including him using dual-nationals during his tenure as USMNT manager.

  13. We need a coach that will be around for 8 games, some WC tune-up friendlies, and the World Cup itself.

    I have no doubts that Bruce will get us there and have us competing well during the tournament.

    If Sunil treats this as anything but a band-aid though, he will have totally lost me (he’s on shaky ground as it is – but I give him props for ‘changing the command in the middle of a qualifying run’).

    I absolutely expect us to roll out a fully vetted and aptly qualified coach for the 2022 cycle.

    • Had Gulati not pulled the trigger on Klinsmann, he too could have been facing a blindfold. He has handled several things badly, the worst is not Klinsmann , but the USWNT, many whom are in open revolt. Its a bad time to make a switch but Gulati has no one to blame but himself.

      Arena will most likely do the HEX and go back to the Galaxy as he has a new 2 year contract with the LAG that allows him time off to work with the USMNT. I do not think he really wants another World just last year he was contemplating retirement.

      But this is just what Gulati and the USMNT needed, an experience World Cup (and Hex) coach, who would be satisfied helping out the USMNT get qualified and back on track, and gently sliding out to make way with a permanent and hopefully new, young dynamic head coach to take the team into Russia and beyond.

  14. lol… this point I’m OK with anything. We just need something different and in the process send the message to coach and players:
    “If you don’t perform, given a fair share to opportunities, YOU ARE OUT!!!!!” Next!!!!

    • You do realize that there is only 1.5 years to the World Cup and we need qualifying results immediately? It would take a foreign coach a year just to get a handle on the player pool. After Russia is a perfect time to introduce a new big picture coach, especially with a wave of new coming through at that time, but for now, we need someone steady. There isn’t a steadier coach who understands the international game and the American player pool than Arena.

  15. Let the roast, venting, and complain session begin!!! Bruce better apologize for talking smack about dual nationals. I do not know if he will call in retired players like Robbie Rogers or Feilhaber, We will see, if he calls up Onyewu, I will be interested, lol.

    • The comments you referred to about dual nationals are taken out of context. Bruce was referring to the very large player pool the USMNT enjoys right now and that he felt it was not being taken advantage of.

      Bruce Arena and very many others believe that Klinsmann was trying too hard in bringing along players on foreign teams, some who were riding the pine, instead of bringing in more in-form MLS players.

      Bruce Arena used several dual nationals in his first stint and he will continue doing the same.

      And in case anyone thinks that Arena will stock the USMNT with older veterans and forget about the new up and coming youth, Arena’s first World Cup in 2002 where the player pool was only a tenth of what he has today, the average age of his players was: 27 years old.

      Contrast that with Jurgen Klinsmann who touted his “youth movement” by bringing forth the youngsters like Julian Green or Brooks or Yedlin. The average age of his first World Cup team was; 27 years year old.

      But I think that those fans who are dismayed in Arena, may take solace that it will most likely be an interim job. He is still under contract with the LAG, which, in his new contract, allows him to take an interim position. His first and maybe only job, is to get the USMNT through the Hex and qualified to Russia. He may not even have a ticket on that plane.

  16. The Bruce is back! Hopefully he can guide us to success this cycle and we can identify his successor from group of next generation American coaching candidates!

    • I would want someone other than Bruce also but we’re not going to get anyone else at this time. Bad timing. This is a horrible time to be looking for a manager. Every major league is in season and you are already two games into the Hex. So your options are an MLS coach or a coach who is currently unemployed. With that criteria there aren’t many good options. This is clearly an emergency firing, and then an emergency hire. Looking at it like that you can see why Arena is the choice.

      • This is a horrible time to be looking for a manager

        Which brings us to the President of the federation: Sunil Gulati. There was a few flash points, including immediately after the World Cup (bad idea to keep a manager on for two cycles) and well before the Hex began that, even supporters of JK like myself, admitted if they’re going to make a move…do it now.

        It’s convenient to put the blame on Klinsmann for now, but post-Russia Gulati needs to be relieved of his duties, too.

      • Sorry about beating you guys on Saturday.

        As for your comment, I agree completely. There really isn’t anyone better for “right now” than Arena considering his experience and past results. I expect him to come in, do a job, and then we move on to our next manager. I mentioned in the JK firing comment section that a solid international manager will be picked up. Most like our soccer growth as a nation and our emerging talent, in addition to our current skillset. They will have the tools to hopefully help fix what we lack (tactics and technical ability outside of club teams).

        Here’s hoping that Arena can lead us even further than what we are expecting, especially considering we have 2 years of talent developing during his tenure.

      • Here’s what I suggested last week. The new coach of the MLS expansion Atlanta team, Martino, has coached the Argentine national team and Barcelona. If he was willing to coach an MLS expansion team, might not he be willing to coach the US National team? Might not he be a b etter choice than even Bruce Arena who is close to retirement?

      • So what if Arena is close to retirement? There is nobody better suited to the task at hand than Arena. He has guided the USMNT through two hexagonals and two world cups. Hard to name anyone else who’s available and who has more familiarity with the U.S. player pool and what the team faces during its next 8 qualifying matches. He is the perfect antidote to JK’s brand of BS. Arena doesn’t suffer fools gladly and he doesn’t sugarcoat things. He’s prickly and he’s one heck of a motivator. He’s exactly what this team needs at this juncture in the qualifying process. Have him get the team to Russia. After that, U.S. Soccer can scour the world for somebody to help push the sport forward in this country.

    • It is the safe, practical and proven pick for the transition period. After we get to, don’t get to, the WC. See how we do. Then maybe roll out big bucks for a really gifted foreign coach, or give JKreiss, JMarsch, or DKinnear the reins. Time will tell. I think having Arena back at this time will be really, really good for this team. He will get them functioning, and playing on higher level as a team – like a tight Roman legion peloton. Shields up! Testudo!

      • I used to be a big Arena fan. But have you seen the Galaxy lately? The team is currently a mess with all kinds of question marks and questionable signings last year. And Arena has been GM for several years, so he bears pretty much total responsibility for their personnel moves.

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