Bruce Arena is returning to coach the United States national soccer team, a decade after he was fired.
The winningest coach in American national team history, Arena took over Tuesday, one day after Jurgen Klinsmann was fired. The 65-year-old Arena starts work Dec. 1.
With the U.S. 0-2 in the final round of World Cup qualifying, the U.S. Soccer Federation wants to spark a turnaround when the playoffs resume March 24 with a home game against Honduras.
“His experience at the international level, understanding of the requirements needed to lead a team through World Cup qualifying, and proven ability to build a successful team were all aspects we felt were vital for the next coach,” USSF president Sunil Gulati, who fired Arena in 2006, said in a statement.
‘Working as a team, I’m confident that we’ll take the right steps forward.’ - New U.S. men’s soccer coach on club’s World Cup qualifying chances
“I know Bruce will be fully committed to preparing the players for the next eight qualifying games and earning a berth to an eighth straight FIFA World Cup.”
“We need to build the chemistry of this team and have a common goal and really work on a team concept,” Arena said during a telephone news conference. “I really believe individually and positionally we have good players and we’ve just got to get them working together as a team.
“There are no real secrets on how you build good teams: It takes a lot of hard work, it takes communication, it takes discipline and it takes some talent, and I think we have enough talent to build a good team and end up in Russia 2018. It’s going to take a little time, a little bit patience and a lot of hard work.”
Arena first took over as national team coach after the 1998 World Cup and led the U.S. to a 71-30-29 record. His contract runs through the 2018 World Cup.
“I’m looking forward to working with a strong group of players that understand the challenge in front of them after the first two games,” Arena said in a statement. “Working as a team, I’m confident that we’ll take the right steps forward to qualify”
A wisecracking Brooklyn native
A wisecracking Brooklyn native known for blunt talk and sarcasm, Arena coached the University of Virginia to five NCAA titles from 1978-95, then led D.C. United to titles in Major League Soccer’s first two seasons before losing in the 1998 final. He guided the Americans to the team’s best World Cup finish since 1930, a 1-0 loss to Germany in the 2002 quarter-finals.
Arena was let go after the team’s first-round elimination by Ghana in 2006. He coached the New York Red Bulls of MLS from July 2006 to November 2007, then was hired the following August by the Galaxy. He led the team to MLS titles in 2011, 2012 and 2014.
Arena was inducted into the U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2010.
“I think 10 years later I’m better prepared for this job than I was in 1998 and 2002 and ultimately 2006, so I’m hopeful the experiences I had are going to benefit the program,” he said. “One of the things you learn from experience is you see things a lot clearer and a lot quicker than you did previously, and the game has slowed down a bit, where I can see as a coach in my position how things are happening on the field.