Back to fu­ture: Cup vets, Arena re­unite

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Janie McCauley

san jose, calif.» DaMar­cus Beasley, Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard were with Bruce Arena the last time the U.S. coach guided the Amer­i­cans into World Cup qual­i­fy­ing — way back 12 years ago.

“It’s a long time for a coach, too, I might add,” cracked the 65-year-old Arena, “I had a lot more hair 12 years ago.”

Jozy Alti­dore played for Arena in his de­but sea­son of Ma­jor League Soc­cer with the New York Red Bulls in 2006 and part of ‘07.

The Amer­i­cans are count­ing on that fa­mil­iar­ity and ex­pe­ri­ence in big matches when they face Hon­duras at home Fri­day in World Cup qual­i­fy­ing.

“He’s been around U.S. Soc­cer for a very long time. I think that helps him a bit in his ap­proach,” Alti­dore said af­ter Tues­day’s train­ing in a steady rain at Avaya Sta­dium. “He’s a guy that every­body’s re­ally com­fort­able with and there’s no ad­just­ment pe­riod, which is good. He was one of my first pro coaches, so I know him well, his style and every­thing, so it’s noth­ing new. It’s good to have him back.”

Arena’s ros­ter fea­tures 19 of 26 play­ers from Ma­jor League Soc­cer with the Mon­day night ad­di­tion of Chris Won­dolowski of the San Jose Earth­quakes. There were just 10 MLS play­ers lead­ing into an em­bar­rass­ing 4-0 loss to Costa Rica on Nov. 15 — eight of whom dressed for the match af­ter Howard got hurt against Mex­ico.

That sent the Amer­i­cans to their first 0-2 start in the fi­nal round of World Cup qual­i­fy­ing and led to Jur­gen Klism­nann’s ouster. Arena then re­turned 10 years af­ter his fir­ing.

“I think Bruce is go­ing to call up the play­ers that give him the best chance to win,” mid­fielder Michael Bradley said. “Re­gard­less of where you play, re­gard­less of what you’ve done, Bruce is go­ing to rely on guys who are go­ing to step on the field in big mo­ments and go for it, be ag­gres­sive and fear­less and rep­re­sent him and the team and our coun­try in the best pos­si­ble way.”

The Amer­i­cans might need all the depth they have up front, while Dempsey and Howard are healthy again at last.

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