Bruce Arena has resigned as U.S. men's national team manager after failed to guide the USA to the 2018 World Cup following a 2–1 loss to Trinidad and Tobago in Tuesday's finale of the CONCACAF Hexagonal.
The U.S. started the night in third place, which would have been good enough for an automatic berth in Russia, but the loss, along with Honduras's 3–2 win over Mexico and Panama's 2–1 victory over Costa Rica bumped the U.S. to fifth and spelled the end of its World Cup hopes. Arena took responsibility for the United States's failure after the match.
"We didn't qualify for the World Cup," Arena told reporters in the postgame press conference. "That was my job. To get the team qualified for the World Cup."
"This game in my view was perfectly positioned for the U.S. team and we failed on the day," he added. "We have no excuses. We failed today."
Arena's contract was slated to expire in July, at the conclusion of the 2018 World Cup. This was Arena's second stint as the USMNT head coach after he replaced the fired Jurgen Klinsmann on Nov. 22, 2016. He was tasked with righting the ship and guiding the Americans to the World Cup for an eighth straight time. He went 10-2-6 in his 18 games in charge and led the U.S. to the CONCACAF Gold Cup title–his third as manager. U.S. Soccer did not yet reveal who would be taking the reins from Arena, though federation president Sunil Gulati will address the media–and undoubtedly the position–on Friday.
In a statement, Arena said the following:
"It is the greatest privilege for any coach to manage their country’s national team, and as I leave that role today I am honored and grateful to have had that opportunity twice in my career.
"When I took the job last November, I knew there was a great challenge ahead, probably more than most people could appreciate. Everyone involved in the program gave everything they had for the last 11 months, and in the end we came up short. No excuses. We didn’t get the job done, and I accept responsibility. This certainly is a major setback for the senior men’s national team program, and questions rightly should be asked about how we can improve. No doubt this process already has started and will continue so that U.S. Soccer can progress. Having said that, it also is important to recognize the tremendous growth and accomplishments we have achieved over the past two decades in all areas, including player development, coaching education and a stable domestic professional league. That work is ongoing, and despite the result in Trinidad the sport is on the right path. By working together, I am confident soccer in this country will continue to grow in the years and decades ahead.
"Obviously the biggest disappointment is for our fans. As a person involved in the sport for more than 40 years, to see how the level of support for soccer in the United States has grown is incredibly gratifying. I believe I speak for everyone involved in the game in thanking all of you for your passion and commitment, and I hope you maintain your steadfast support of U.S. Soccer.
"While this is a difficult moment, I maintain a fierce belief that we are heading in the right direction. I believe in the American player and the American coach, and with our combined efforts the future remains bright. I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I can say this from the bottom of my heart: from the high of reaching the quarterfinal of the 2002 World Cup to the low of a few days ago, I have appreciated every minute of being a part of this program."
Arena first managed the U.S. from 1998 to 2006 and led the Americans to the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup. He was dismissed when the U.S. didn't make the knockout stage of the 2006 World Cup and succeeded by Bob Bradley. Arena departs with an all-time U.S. record of 81-32-35.