Sports Outside the Beltway

Bruce Arena Out as U.S. Soccer Coach (Video)

Bruce Arena was essentially fired as coach of Team USA today.

U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati announced Friday that U.S. Men’s National Team coach Bruce Arena, the longest-tenured national team coach at the World Cup, will not return to the U.S. team after his contract expires at the end of the year. Arena met with Gulati and U.S. Soccer Secretary General Dan Flynn for five hours Thursday at LaGuardia Airport, and a decision was finalized Friday morning.


Arena out as U.S. coach

Gulati said a worldwide search to find a replacement will begin immediately. Speculation will center on Jürgen Klinsmann, who coached the German national team to a third-place finish in this month’s World Cup. Klinsmann, who lives in California with his family, stepped down from the German post earlier this week, saying he felt, “burnt out.”

“Bruce expressed a desire to continue,” Gulati said. “I’m sure he’ll have opportunities. He had a great opportunity before the World Cup, but he didn’t want to be distracted. No doubt there will be multiple opportunities in the soccer world in the U.S. and outside if he wants them.”

Arena, hired in October 1998, will leave the national team as the winningest coach in its history. He coached the 2002 U.S. men’s team to the quarterfinals of the World Cup, the Americans’ best World Cup showing more than 70 years. But Arena’s squad disappointed at this year’s World Cup, failing to advance out of group play as it lost to the Czech Republic and Ghana and tied eventual World Cup champion Italy. “It comes down primarily to eight years being a long period,” Gulati said. “I’m not going to say we felt the need to change directions. The direction Bruce has set is very, very positive. We didn’t get the results we wanted in the World Cup, but Bruce didn’t become a bad coach in three games with a few bad bounces of the ball.”

Indeed not. Still, given the vast size and resources of the United States, it’s simply inexcusable that the team is not competitive for a world title in any sport it sets its mind to winning. The team’s performance at the 2006 World Cup was nothing short of a national humiliation.

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