Arena re­turns to lead shaky US squad – again

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

AN older, wiser Bruce Arena re­turned to the US na­tional team coach­ing role on Novem­ber 22 af­ter a 10-year ab­sence, vow­ing tal­ent and hard work will re­sult in a 2018 World Cup berth.

Arena, who had guided the team from 1998 to 2006 be­fore tak­ing charge of Ma­jor League Soccer’s Los An­ge­les Galaxy, was named to re­place Jur­gen Klins­mann, who was fired on Novem­ber 21 af­ter five years.

The Amer­i­cans lost World Cup 2018 qual­i­fiers 2-1 at home to Mex­ico and 4-0 at Costa Rica, but their next qual­i­fier is March 24 at home against Hon­duras, giv­ing Arena time to re­vamp the squad in his im­age.

“We’ll de­velop an iden­tity over the next cou­ple of months to build the best team we can be and be ready when March 24 rolls around,” Arena said.

“I don’t think the ros­ter is go­ing to have rad­i­cal changes but ob­vi­ously there will be some. What I re­ally know is how to build a team. I’m hope­ful those qual­i­ties will al­low me to get this team mov­ing at full speed when qual­i­fy­ing starts in March.”

While Klins­mann of­ten pit­ted play­ers against one an­other to boost tal­ent at ev­ery po­si­tion, the play dam­aged ca­ma­raderie and Arena sees team­work as a high pri­or­ity.

“We need to build the chem­istry of this team and have a com­mon goal,” Arena said. “I be­lieve we have good play­ers. We’ve just got to get them work­ing to­gether as a team.

“It takes hard work. It takes com­mu­ni­ca­tion. It takes dis­ci­pline and it takes some tal­ent. I be­lieve we have enough tal­ent to be in Rus­sia in 2018. It’s go­ing to take time, pa­tience and a lot of hard work.”

Arena, whose 2002 line-up reached the World Cup quar­ter-fi­nals be­fore los­ing to Ger­many, said the US squad has ad­vanced in the years since his con­tract was not re­newed af­ter a firstround ouster in the 2006 World Cup.

“US Soccer has made great progress, with the growth of the league, the play­ers play­ing abroad. We have a very good pool of play­ers,” Arena said.

Klins­mann turned to many for­eign-born US play­ers, a move Arena and US Soccer pres­i­dent Su­nil Gu­lati said re­mains a pri­or­ity.

Gu­lati added, “We’re open to any­one, whether they are born abroad or born here,” Gu­lati said, adding nei­ther path was fa­vored in build­ing a US lineup in “Bruce 2.0”, a deal struck through the end of the 2018 World Cup.

Arena said he will be bet­ter than he was dur­ing his first stint as coach, when he went 71-30 with 29 drawn, for hav­ing worked with such ex-Galaxy tal­ents as English stand­outs David Beck­ham and Steven Ger­rard.

“I think 10 years later, I’m bet­ter pre­pared for this job than I was in 1998 and 2002 and 2006.

“You see things a lot clearer and a lot quicker than you did pre­vi­ously. The game slows down for you. I’m quicker at iden­ti­fy­ing the strengths and weak­nesses of play­ers. I’m ready for the chal­lenge of pre­par­ing for qual­i­fy­ing.” –

Photo: AFP

Af­ter 10 years lead­ing the LA Galaxy, Bruce Arena will re­turn to his for­mer post as US na­tional team man­ager.

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