Bruce Arena was candid in his assessment of U.S. Soccer’s past and present iterations.
Bruce Arena was candid in his assessment of the U.S. men's national team's past and present iterations, stating that he didn't feel the same connection to the program under Klinsmann's guidance in a new SI feature by Grant Wahl.
The story delves into Arena’s transition back into the head coaching role as he takes over the reins with the U.S. in need of immediate results to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. In it, he reflected on the coaches that followed him—Bob Bradley and Klinsmann.
"I was always proud during Bob’s tenure,” says Arena. “Whether [the team] looked good or didn’t, there was fight—the right mentality, the understanding of team and playing together. In this business, results don’t always go your way, but you want to make sure the group is there collectively, and during Bob’s tenure that was the case.”
“The last four or five years [under Klinsmann], I just didn’t feel a connection to the program,” Arena continues. “There were too many swings up and down along the way that didn’t show the same culture that was developed after ’98. Right or wrong, Jurgen marketed a concept that never got there—about how good they were going to be and the style of play. We [coaches] don’t have a lot of control over that. If you want us to play like one of the great countries in the world, it’s not likely to happen in the short term. That doesn’t mean [our style is] wrong or bad—that means we’re playing the cards that are dealt to us.”
Arena, 65, managed the U.S. from 1998 to 2006, leading the Americans to their best World Cup finish with a quarterfinal appearance in 2002 before a group-stage exit in 2006 led to his departure. Bradley managed the team from 2006–2011, and Klinsmann from 2011 to 2016.
The U.S. plays Jamaica in a friendly on Feb. 3 prior to resuming World Cup qualifying in late March against Honduras and Panama. The U.S. is 0-2-0 in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying hexagonal after November losses to Mexico and Costa Rica.