Top Stories

Arena eyes Lichaj, Arriola as potential USMNT call-ups for March qualifiers

Bruce Arena LA Galaxy 12

Bruce Arena took the opportunity to get a look at several new faces this January and the U.S. Men’s National Team head coach has already pegged two players that he’d like to get a closer look at in the coming months.

On Thursday’s conference call, Arena hinted at players who may feature on the March World Cup qualifiers roster. In addition to stating he’d be visiting European-based players in Germany and England, Arena noted that Nottingham Forest fullback Eric Lichaj and Club Tijuana midfielder Paul Arriola would be under strong consideration for the upcoming matches.

“I think in particular Lichaj and Arriola are players that we have to strongly consider for the March camp,” Arena stated. “We’re going to get to see those players play in the next couple of weeks to help make some of those decisions.”

Arena says he will give equal consideration to players based in Europe and those based in the Americas, be it the U.S., Canada, or Mexico, the current USMNT manager told reporters. Coming out of the January camp, composed almost entirely of MLS-based talent, Arena believes that playing time and current form is significantly more important than the league in which a player features.

“We’re going to follow every player, both in Europe, Mexico, the U.S. and Canada, and decide on who we think are the best group of players to help us get some results,” he said on a conference call with reporters. “It doesn’t matter where they come from. We have players in Europe who aren’t playing.”

While favoritism of European players was a heavily criticized aspect of Klinsmann’s term, there have been concerns that Arena’s tenure would swing the pendulum too far in the opposite direction, giving preference to MLS-based players, a notion which Arena aims to dispel.

“We have players in Europe that are playing a lot. It’s the same case in Mexico,” continued Arena. “And then in the U.S. the players we’ve had in camp are for the most part the players that will be under consideration for the March roster.”



  1. Some people just can’t grasp that their guy had his shot and failed. Well, then again there are still some people who defend the Bourbon kings of France and hope for their return.

  2. Would love to see Lichaj on the left and Yedlin on the right. They’ve both consistently done well this season in the Championship. Neither are afraid to get forward and make assists. Really more of a story than any of our Premiere League players this season.

  3. ‘Arena believes that playing time and current form is significantly more important than the league in which a player features.’

    wow, what a concept

    • Yet Villafana who had been benched by Santos and is so out of their plans that they let him miss two league matches and a cup match to play with Nats is said to have a good shot at making the squad and maybe even the lineup for March.

      Every coach says things to challenge their players. Klinsmann’s comments were meant to tell players go find the a league were you are constantly challenged to get better, which for most in the Nat pool is not MLS. Arena’s comments are saying if you play in MLS even if you aren’t as challenged as in Europe be self motivated to work as hard as possible and get better. They both want the same thing they just have differing opinions on how you get there.

      Jurgen played in four top leagues in Europe, so that’s his experience, he believes playing against the best made him one of the best of his era. Arena’s background is with American players who often weren’t given opportunities in Europe and so his perspective is to make the best of whatever your situation is.

      Beach you were gone or at least not commenting much for awhile and you may have missed it but probably 90% of posters on here were ready for Klinsy to go, and just like past managers who were let go once they are gone people begin to have a higher opinion of them than when they were on the sideline. I don’t think JK will ever get to people wanting him to return, but the glasses will turn much more rose colored as time goes by just as people are much more pro Bradley than they were five years ago. Watch someone will probably get nostalgic for Steve Sampson.

      • as always I appreciate your thoughtful reply.

        on Villafana, there’s always exceptions for positions of need, where the pool is shallow

        on motivation, I expect Arena to continue to give certain players a chance who are hungry to prove yet were looked over by JK. Lots of motivation for those players, we’ll see how it develops, some key roles. Also expect Arena to play to strengths more than to hopes regarding style of play, player selections and positions/roles. there’s some players affected on that list who might be pretty motivated to prove some things. we’ll see

        I remember watching JK play in World Cups, not in the Bundesliga because you couldn’t see that over here back then. anyway, playing against the best is awesome, no arguments here. creating the best team is more than evaluating who is playing against which competition though, right?

        on the pool, we’ll see how that develops too as new players emerge, players not given a look before get them, roles are redefined within the system, and performances reveal the next decisions

        as for the board being ready for JK to get the boot, I appreciate what you’re trying to say, ok johnny? but this board was a group think righteous chorus on JK. those who tried to reveal the red flags years ago were shouted down pretty hard with pretzel logic that turned out to be where we are right now in the hex for the 2018 World Cup. I’m glad to see so many came to see the light, including ussoccer finally

        On history’s view of JK, it’s different than those before because those before didn’t come in promising the moon and demanding total control and his paycheck…it’s different. he sold himself as some kind of messiah, and many followed with deep belief as JK sold ussoccer a dream they wanted to hear. those paying attention could see his river city jive early…it was evident and those who pointed it out were shouted down here.

        and again, here we sit 2 games into the hex of the 2018 World Cup campaign he sold ussoccer on. Arena has a tough flippin task ahead of him to fix this sh!t

      • Jezz we played 2 of hardest games, we have 8 left. 3 hardest games are (1) at Mexico, (2) at Costa Rica, (3) home vs Mexico. One of which, we NEVER win (at Costa Rica). One (home vs. Mexico) we usually win. We get 18 and we are guaranteed automatic (top 3 qualification) – 4 remaining home games and 2/4 away games.

        Slam JK for experimenting during games that matter, or some tactical decisions or talking too negatively about MLS. However, we only lost 1 game usually win.

  4. folks really get riled up here on this stuff

    the support for JK is astounding to me considering he was hired and always defended for his decisions because he was ‘building for 2018′. Hopefully we still get there, but his mission for 2018 is total failure on his part…complete. That’s why, even with the $$$ owed him and the obsequious support from Gulati, he was righteously fired, finally.

    on MLS, he flippin’ hated it! Bradley came home and bam, JK hated it. same with Jozy, etc. Yes, he still played them but he also publicly hammered them for coming home to play at home. And he was hardly a supportive voice of MLS, good grief. Garber, who you can hate or whatever, called him out for it, remember? if you can’t, just google ‘garber and klinsmann’ and begin reading.

    calling up players…big deal. JK’s contempt for MLS is hardly a debate. I respect those who cop to that reality and own it.

  5. Just for fun, let’s do a hypothetical MLS vs Abroad squad. Actually to make it more even lets add Mexico to MLS and make it North America vs Europe. Who do you think will win most games out of 10? And feel free to tweak my roster.


    Wood and (Green or Boyd or AJ or Wooten)
    Pulisic- Williams(kitchen?)- Morales- Gooch(keis)
    Lichaj-Brooks-Cameron- Yedlin (Chandler)

    Hyndman and Zelalem and Ccv and etc in the mix.

    North America:

    Altidore and Morris (Swagudelo, Zardes)
    Nagbe- Jones/Sacha- Bradley/Benny- Arriola (Lletget)
    Villafana, Besler/Birnb, Gonzalez/Hedges, Suzi
    Howard/ Bing/ Yarb/ Rimando

    You guys know all the other MLS players in the mix.

    Who you got?

    • I honestly think that the European squad w/ Fabian as the LB would win 7-10 matches against the N. American squad. There’d be one tie….

      The NA based players just aren’t as good….if they were they’d be in Europe where they’d be paid more.

      • The Euro side have the better forwards (wood), wingers (pulisic, johnson). and defenders (chandler, yedlin, brooks, Cameron).

  6. Klinsmann was able to widen the player pool to include a lot of European players, which is different than giving preference to them, and that is a good thing, right? If they showed better in camp, I don’t see that as his fault. MLS guys got plenty of chances. I think a lot more has to do with where players are in their season than people realize.

    • How did JK widen the pool?

      None of the German-Americans he brought in were going to get a chance to play for Germany’s national team any time soon. Jones and Chandler played under Bradley, and Wood was with the US youth teams before the JK era. It may be that Fabian Johnson was swayed by JK, but he had a chance to play for the US in the WC and slim to no chance to play for Germany.

      Brooks played multiple times for US youth teams before JK and once with the German U-20s after JK took over, he is another player who was a very very long shot to play in the WC for Germany,

      It is hard to see how JK’s sway was that big a deal (Greene maybe, but again he was not going to the WC with Germany.)

      Sure there was speculation that JK somehow swayed them, but it is more likely the shot at playing in the WC won them over. Much like Beitashour chose Iran over the US, not because he preferred Iran so much as it was clear that he did not factor into JK’s US plans. He was born and raised in the US, played college soccer here and is American by all measures except by FIFA’s standards he could chose Iran due to this parents.

      • Dennis seems like a JK hater honestly and that’s fine. You can say JK made some strange choices, tinkered too much and never took any blame if you want but to say he didn’t create more competition and give a lot of new players chances seems like you just don’t like JK.. or don’t pay attention.

      • Dennis,

        Again, where do you get your information? Second, I want the (1) best players available, with (2) US Passports (citizenship) who(3) will fight hard for the badge.

  7. This is like part new part editorial. It’s IN FACT NOT TRUE that Klinsman favored Euro players It’s just NOT TRUE. If anything he favored MLS guys who previously played in Europe over younger options who played in MLS (but who arguably had not matched the older former Euro players).

    Just stop with the false narratives.

      • How did JK create more competition on the field. He brought in new players at a slightly lower rate than Bradley. It was true that some of players he brought in were a bit better, but that is due to the improving quality of US players in general than anything JK did other than perhaps influence Wood and Johnson to play for the USA instead of Germany (not sure they had a shot of being in the WC for Germany so his influence there is likely overstated as well).

      • What are you talking about????? What you stated is devoid of fact.

        First, Wood was born and raised in Hawai’i and California before going to Germany. He did not have to convince to choose US over Germany since Germany was never an option. Second, Klinsman brought in a lot of players. He actually brought in more players than Bradley (I posted last year with numbers where difference was almost 20 players in same relative time period). That is rate (numbers/time period). A lot of the players did not work out, but some did (Besler, Wood – when everyone kept saying he was garbage, brought in Cameron from the wilderness, Yarborough etc.).

      • Guess it’s an opinion but the amount of players he brought in and the quality across the board compared to years past created more, real competition at every position, maybe a lot of those were duals, but jk brought them in. You mention wood and Johnson, that’s a start. Feel free to prove my opinion wrong.

  8. Just wondering, who of any significance other than Cam returning from injury isn’t getting playing time in Europe? Aron Johansson? He’s gotta be what the 6th choice at forward? Gooch just coming back from injury….

  9. I think Klinsmann showed more respect toward MLS based players than any previous American coach. Specifically, veteran guys who were consistent such as Beckerman, Wondo, Brad Davis, Brad Evans. And then also throwing in young Besler and Gonzalez into the fire instead of sticking with our aging Euro retread defenders. He even called up a domestic amateur player (Morris) and USL guy (I forget his name).

  10. I don’t have numbers in front of me, but sincere question: Did Klinsmann “favor European players” or did he prefer they play in Europe to further their career trajectory?

    It would seem to me, and much to the dismay of many, he “favored” quite a few MLS veterans as the backbone of his squads, dispelling any notion that he favored European-based players over MLS-based players.

    This strikes me as a false narrative drummed up by those who didn’t like Klinsmann based on his personal assessment that better competition abroad created better players (which I think conventional wisdom, in any sport, validates).

    • The problem with JK was the inherent lack of coherency in message or action. He’d go on about the need to play in Europe but then pick MLS players over certain Europeans. He’d state the importance of form then played someone who hadn’t gotten off the bench in months. He never seemed to have a plan that he could stick to or even adequately communicate to his team or the public.

    • As a big fan of MLS and someone who disliked Juergen starting mid-2014, I always felt that Jurgen, if anything, favored MLS players on margin. For example, Reading is a better team than RSL, but it was Beckerman over Williams. Same for Leihaj. Same for Morales. Same for Wondo called up over some European-based options. Besler over Ream.

      He just made enemies with MLS supporters by his anti-MLS statements, but his actions were to the contrary.

      • I recall Bob Bradley making those same statements – which i never took as anti-mls, just saying you want players playing at their highest level. Garber and the MLS media just ran with lazy headlines and villionized JK. The coach had many other flaws but this one was always absurd.

Leave a Comment