Bruce Arena

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Bruce Arena
BruceArena 20060511.jpg
Personal information
Full name Bruce Arena
Date of birth (1951-09-21) September 21, 1951 (age 62)
Place of birth Brooklyn, New York, United States
Height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Playing position Goalkeeper
Club information
Current club Los Angeles Galaxy (head coach)
Youth career
1968 Hota
1969–1971 Nassau Lions
1971–1973 Cornell Big Red
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1976 Tacoma Tides
National team
1973 United States 1 (0)
Teams managed
1973 Cornell University (assistant)
1976 University of Puget Sound
1978–1985 University of Virginia (lacrosse assistant)
1978–1996 University of Virginia (soccer)
1995–1996 United States U-23
1996–1998 D.C. United
1998–2006 United States
2006–2007 New York Red Bulls
2008– Los Angeles Galaxy
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Bruce Arena (born September 21, 1951)[1] is a former professional soccer player, and coach of the Los Angeles Galaxy in Major League Soccer. Arena is the former coach of the United States men's national soccer team and is a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame. Arena has had a long and distinguished coaching career, and is considered to be one of the most successful coaches in North American soccer history[citation needed]. He was head coach of the United States at the 1996 Summer Olympics, the 2002 FIFA World Cup and the 2006 FIFA World Cup, head coach of New York Red Bulls and D.C. United in Major League Soccer, and coached the University of Virginia to several college soccer championships. Before beginning his coaching career, Arena was a goalkeeper for Cornell University, and earned one cap with the United States men's national soccer team.

Playing career[edit]

High school and college[edit]

Arena was born in Brooklyn, New York, and grew up in the Long Island town of Franklin Square, New York, where he attended Carey High School. While he excelled at several sports, he was too small for American football, so he joined the school's soccer team as a defender. He moved into the goal when the starting goalkeeper was suspended after hitting another school's player during a game. While in high school, he also played a single season with local club Hota S.C. of New York City's Cosmopolitan Soccer League.

After graduation, he began his collegiate athletic career playing both lacrosse and soccer at Nassau Community College, a two year college near his home. Arena was a 1970 and 1971 Honorable Mention All American lacrosse player and an All-America soccer player. He was inducted into the National Junior College Hall of Fame in 2008.[2] While at Nassau, he played soccer for head coach Bill Stevenson and goalkeeper coach Shep Messing, a future New York Cosmos goalkeeper. At the end of his two years with Nassau, Arena transferred to Cornell University in upstate New York where he was a 1972 Honorable Mention All American and a 1973 Second Team All American in lacrosse. He did not originally intend to play soccer, but injuries to the school's first and second string goalkeepers led to the men's soccer coach, Dan Wood, to recruit Arena into the team as its goalkeeper. Arena backstopped the Cornell Big Red soccer team to the 1972 NCAA Men's Soccer Championship Final Four and earned Most Valuable Defensive Player honors for the tournament.[3]

Professional[edit]

After graduating from Cornell, New York Cosmos drafted Arena in the fifth round of the North American Soccer League college draft. The Cosmos released him before the season. Arena then signed to play professional lacrosse for the Montreal Quebecois, spending a single season with the team in 1975. The National Lacrosse League folded at the end of the 1975 season, leaving Arena unemployed. At the same time, Dan Wood, who had recruited Arena to play for the Cornell soccer team, had been named the new head coach of the expansion Tacoma Tides which played in the American Soccer League. Wood contacted Arena and convinced him to move to the Pacific Northwest to play for him.[4] While Arena was the second string goalkeeper behind starter Jamil Canal, the move to Tacoma was significant in that it introduced Arena to coaching. That year, in addition to playing for the Tides, Arena coached the men's soccer team at the University of Puget Sound.

International[edit]

In 1973, he earned his only national team cap as a second half substitute for Bob Rigby in a 2-0 loss to Israel.[5] National team coach, Gordon Bradley, had called Arena into the national team for an earlier game against Haiti, but Arena could not get time off from his job teaching at a local junior high school.[6] In addition to his single cap with the U.S. soccer team, Arena also played for the national lacrosse team which won the 1974 World Lacrosse Championship and finished runner up in 1978.[7][8]

Coaching career[edit]

College[edit]

In 1977, Arena moved back to teach at Cornell and act as the school’s assistant lacrosse coach. While he was there, the University of Virginia (UVA) advertised for two open coaching positions – head soccer coach and assistant lacrosse coach beginning the 1978 season. Arena took that opportunity and would go on to coach both the UVA lacrosse and soccer teams for seven years, before becoming the school’s dedicated soccer coach in 1985. Arena was the head coach of the Virginia program for eighteen years, during which he won five national championships (including 4 straight from 1991–94) and amassed a 295-58-32 record. Additionally, he coached and developed many players at Virginia who would go on to play significant roles in the United States national team, including Claudio Reyna, Jeff Agoos, John Harkes and Tony Meola. In addition to coaching, Arena served as the ACC soccer coaches chairman as well as two three-year terms on the NCAA Division I soccer committee from 1989 to 1995.

D.C. United[edit]

On January 3, 1996, Arena left UVA to become the coach of D.C. United of Major League Soccer. The 1996 season would be both the team's and the league's inaugural season, so Arena needed to build a team from scratch. To make his position even more difficult, he had agreed to coach the U.S. U-23 national team at the 1996 Summer Olympics where it went 1-1-1. Despite the distraction of the Olympics, Arena managed to form his team and lead United to victory in the first MLS Cup. In addition to the MLS title, Arena also took United to the 1996 U.S. Open Cup championship. Arena and United continued to experience success in 1997. The team won its second MLS Cup defeating Colorado Rapids 2-1. Arena's success led to his selection as the 1997 MLS Coach of the Year. This year, Arena took United to the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions' Cup. In 1998, Arena took United to its third consecutive MLS Cup only to see his team fall to the expansion Chicago Fire led by his protégé Bob Bradley. However, while Arena failed to add another MLS championship to his resume, he guided United to the CONCACAF Champions' Cup title with a 1-0 victory over Toluca on August 16, 1998. He followed that with a defeat of Brazilian club Vasco da Gama to take the Interamerican Cup title. Arena was also the 1997 and 1998 MLS All-Star head coach.

National Team[edit]

Arena was hired by the U.S. national team to replace Steve Sampson as head coach in October 1998 following the team's disastrous showing in the 1998 FIFA World Cup. He forged the team into a successful international side, and is undisputedly the most successful coach in United States history: most international wins; longest home shut-out; best World Cup showing since 1930, reaching the quarterfinals at the 2002 World Cup, before a defeat against Germany; and all-time best international FIFA Ranking (4th place, April 2006). Arena also won two Gold Cup championships in 2002 and 2005, with a third place finish in 2003.

The 2002 World Cup was the high point of Arena's career as the U.S. coach. Heavy underdogs coming into the tournament, they stunned the world by beating a respected Portuguese team 3-2 in their opening game. Arena was lauded afterwards for instilling in his players the confidence to play aggressively against an international powerhouse. A hard-fought draw against host nation South Korea was enough to qualify for the second round, despite a poor loss against Poland in the final group game. Arena and the U.S. met old nemesis Mexico in the Round of 16, and Arena adapted his tactics brilliantly to secure a 2-0 victory and a quarterfinal berth. The U.S. switched from their usual 4-4-2 to a 3-5-2, and it paid dividends almost immediately when Josh Wolff, who Arena had brought in to fill out the formation, set up Brian McBride for the winning goal early in the first half. Arena switched the team back to a 4-4-2 for their quarterfinal against Germany, and the team continued to surprise many by dominating stretches of the game. However, they went on to lose 1-0 on a Michael Ballack header.

The U.S. national squad fell short of expectations at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, finishing last in Group E with losses to the Czech Republic and Ghana. The United States scored only twice in its three games, a draw against eventual champion Italy on an own goal by Italian Cristian Zaccardo and a goal from Clint Dempsey against Ghana. Some, including former team member and ESPN analyst Eric Wynalda, have blamed the poor performance on questionable coaching decisions by Arena, including not playing Clint Dempsey and putting DaMarcus Beasley on the right wing instead of his favored left against the Czechs, and using a defensive 4-5-1 in the must-win match vs. Ghana which the U.S. eventually lost. Another questionable decision was made when Claudio Reyna became injured after the first goal when Arena subbed in defensive midfielder Ben Olsen to replace Reyna.

During his time as national team head coach, the United States rose in the FIFA world rankings from nineteenth to fourth, to the surprise, even, of U.S. players.[9] Bruce Arena's 71 wins from 1998 to 2006 are by far the most in U.S. history, making him arguably the most successful U.S. Men's National Team coach. Nevertheless, three weeks after the Americans' disappointing first-round exit from the World Cup in Germany, the U.S. Soccer Federation announced that Arena's contract would not be renewed when it expired at the end of 2006. U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati explained Arena's dismissal, stating that the U.S. was seeking a "fresh approach."[10]

Arena was eventually replaced by close friend and former assistant at Virginia and D.C. United, Bob Bradley.

New York Red Bulls[edit]

On July 14, 2006, USSF announced they would not renew Arena's contract with the U.S. national team. As a result, he began to pursue other coaching opportunities. That led to his being hired by Major League Soccer team New York Red Bulls. Arena's first match with the club came on August 12, 2006, in a friendly against FC Barcelona. On November 5, 2007, Red Bulls and Arena decided mutually to part company. During his year-and-a-half with the club, he went 16-16-10. He had two years remaining on his contract with the club.

Los Angeles Galaxy[edit]

On August 18, 2008, Los Angeles Galaxy hired Arena to replace Ruud Gullit as head coach and Alexi Lalas as general manager.[11] He inherited a team which had failed to make the playoffs since 2005 and would go on to finish the 2008 season at 8-13-9. The team finished thirteen out of fourteen teams and let in a league high 62 goals to 55 scored. During the off-season, Arena reshaped the defense, drafting Omar Gonzalez and A. J. DeLaGarza who became fixtures on the back line, and bringing in Donovan Ricketts as goalkeeper. While the team scored only 36 goals in 2009, they also let in only 31. This led to a 12-6-12 record and second place finish in the league standings. The Galaxy went to the playoffs and Arena was selected as the MLS Coach of the Year Award.

The 2011 Major League Soccer season went extremely well for Bruce's Galaxy. His club won the Supporters' Shield for the second straight season, became only the third team in league history to reach the 60 point plateau, and won the 2011 MLS Cup. Los Angeles also advanced to the elimination round of the CONCACAF Champions League. The Galaxy were however eliminated from the U.S. Open Cup in the quarterfinal stage. The club was undefeated in competitive matches at the Home Depot Center in 2011.

2012 Galaxy repeated winning the championship.

Personal[edit]

Arena's son, Kenny Arena, spent time with the U.S. youth national teams as well as in Major League Soccer.

Coaching record[edit]

As of December 9, 2012
Team From To Record1
G W L T SOW Win %
D.C. United January 3, 1996 August 1, 1998 107 60 34 4 9 56.07
United States August 1, 1998 July 14, 2006 130 75 28 27 57.69
New York Red Bulls July 18, 2006 November 5, 2007 48 18 19 11 37.50
Los Angeles Galaxy August 18, 2008 Present 174 89 47 38 51.15
Total 459 242 128 80 9 52.72
  • 1.^ Record includes league, cup, playoffs and CONCACAF competitions. During his tenure as D.C. United head coach, all shootout wins were put into their own separate column and all shootout losses were put under the loss column. During his tenure as United States head coach, matches that end in a shootout are considered ties.

Honors[edit]

Club[edit]

D.C. United
Los Angeles Galaxy

International[edit]

Individual[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]