Arena: U.S. ‘fighting for lives’ in WC qualifying
Back in charge of the U.S. national soccer team for the first time in a decade, Bruce Arena views the Americans; state as urgent following losses in the first two games of the final round of World Cup qualifying.
Bruce Arena opened a binder to a page with 48 names, his depth chart for the U.S. soccer team.
Back in charge for the first time in a decade, he views the Americans’ state as urgent following losses in the first two games of the final round of World Cup qualifying and already has plans.
“We’re fighting for our lives starting March 24. We’re behind the eight ball,” he said. “We’ve got to close the gap, and we get six points in the next two games, the gap is closed.”
During an hourlong session with reporters Tuesday, Arena said comments he made in 2013 about foreign-born players on the national team were aimed at the U.S. player development system, not a criticism of German-Americans who made up almost a quarter of the 2014 World Cup roster under Jurgen Klinsmann.
“I was told today, somebody, they referenced me in Spain as the Donald Trump of soccer,” Arena said. “I think that I’m at fault obviously for those statements, but I would like to clear that up. It’s absolutely ridiculous. It’s no way in the way I think.”
“I think the phrase foreign nationals is a very poor term, whoever uses it, and I will not use it. I will not use dual citizens. They’re national team players,” he explained. “The comment regarding foreign-born players, at the time I believe was referencing player development. And I was simply saying that if our senior national team program consists of a large minority of players, large majority of players that were born elsewhere, where are we going with our development? It has nothing to do with who should be playing on the national team, who should not.”
Now 65 and a member of the U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame, Arena coached the U.S. from 19982006 and is the winningest coach in team history. He led the Americans to the 2002 World Cup quarterfinals, their best finish since the first tournament in 1930, then was fired after a first-round elimination in 2006. He took over from Klinsmann last week following a 2-1 home loss to Mexico and a 4-0 rout at Costa Rica.
In this file photo, USA coach Bruce Arena, right, reacts after a USA goal was disallowed in the second half of their World Cup Group E soccer match against Italy in Kaiserslautern, Germany. Back in charge of the U.S. national soccer team for the first time in a decade, Bruce Arena views the Americans’ state as urgent following losses in the first two games of the final round of World Cup qualifying.