© 2024 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

U.S. Soccer Reaches Back To The Past To Kickstart Its Future

Bruce Arena has been rehired to coach the U.S. Men's Soccer Team. He's previously coached the team from 1998-2006 where he posted a record of 71 wins, 30 losses and 29 draws.
Alex Gallardo

Bruce Arena is getting his old job back.

Arena is the winningest coach in the history of the United States Men's national team and is the only person to lead the U.S. team at two FIFA World Cups.

The announcement of Arena's return to the team comes a day after U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati parted ways with former U.S. Men's coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

"When we considered the possible candidates to take over the Men's National Team at this time, Bruce was at the top of the list," Sunil Gulati said in a statement Tuesday.

"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."

Arena first managed the team from 1998-2006, posting a record of 71 wins, 30 losses and 29 draws. Perhaps his most enduring achievement came during the 2002 World Cup where he led the U.S. team to the quarterfinals.

During that tournament, Arena lead the U.S. team to a stunning upset over the heavily favored Portugal in the opening match, before advancing out of group play and notching a 2-0 victory over rival Mexico in the round of 16.

The German-born Klinsmann was supposed to ignite a spark in the U.S. squad when he was hired in 2011.

Initially he did.

In the 2014 World Cup, the men's team showed promise by advancing to the knockout stage where the Americans fell eventually fell to Belgium in extra time.

A string of poor performances followed.

Earlier this month, the Americans fell to Mexico, 2-1, then days later suffered an embarrassing 4-0 defeat at the hands of Costa Rica in the most recent World Cup qualifiers. This seemingly brought an end to the Klinsmann era after 5 ½ years.

Arena, a Brooklyn native, is excited about taking back the job he lost a decade earlier.

"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 of the Hex," he said. "Working as a team, I'm confident that we'll take the right steps forward to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia."

The Hex, or Hexagonal, is a reference to final round of FIFA World Cup qualifiers in North and Central America as well as the Caribbean. The U.S. team is currently winless, according to ESPN.

"Arena takes over a team that lost its first two games in the final round of World Cup qualifying to Mexico and Costa Rica. The U.S. is at the bottom of the six-team CONCACAF group on goal differential.

"There are eight games remaining in the Hexagonal, with the next set of games taking place next March, including a home game against Honduras as well as an away encounter in Panama."

Arena will officially start his new job on Dec. 1.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Brakkton Booker is a National Desk reporter based in Washington, DC.
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and award-winning podcasts.
Your donation helps keep nonprofit journalism free and available for everyone.