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Bruce Arena

Arena’s Criticisms of Klinsmann Have No Place in US Soccer

Former US Men’s National Team Coach Bruce Arena believes that the US Men’s National Team needs to be a fundamentally American team. Currently, German playing legend Jürgen Klinsmann who has lived in California since 1998 is managing the national team.

“I believe an American should be coaching the national team,” Arena told the New York Times. “I think the majority of the national team should come out of Major League Soccer. The people that run our governing body think we need to copy what everyone else does, when in reality, our solutions will ultimately come from our culture.”

The irony of this statement is evident to those who know the situation better than the media who simply weigh in every four years to discuss the Us chances in a World Cup. Klinsmann was criticized in his management stints with both the German National Team and FC Bayern Munich for being too Americanized in his methods.  Also, Klinsmann has selected far more players based in Major League Soccer for this World Cup than his predecessor Bob Bradley did for the 2010 edition of the competition.

While Klinsmann also is very particular in wanting a European oriented player development and tactical style implemented his training methods and interest in sports medicine, and nutrition are very American, so much so that he was dubbed “California Klinny” in derisive manner while managing in Germany.

Arena’s statement is entirely self-serving and came quickly on the heels of Landon Donovan’s dismissal from the World Cup squad. Donovan starred for Arena in 2002 and 2006 and has played for the former US Manager for the past six and a half seasons at the club level with LA Galaxy.

The reality is that Arena inability to implement a style in the US system during his tenure and unwillingness to aggressively court players with dual nationalities cost the United States dearly in and during the immediate aftermath of the 2006 World Cup debacle. Arena also showed a lack of faith in youth in his second World Cup cycle leaving many potential impact players behind.

Klinsmann’s success at addressing these weaknesses in Arena’s management style has quite possibly led the former American Manager to lash out using phony patriotism and indignation about having a “foreign” coach as his rationale.

Arena’s arguments are being parroted by some in the US Soccer supporting community. They represent the worst form of jingoism and are part of the reason some fans of club football resent some the phony nationalism that comes around every World Cup cycle.

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  1. John Rushing

    June 10, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    One humble vote against Mr. Arena’s point of view, and Three Cheers for Jurgen Klinsmann (former World Cup winner).
    Did this seemingly jingoistic personality really want the world too see the inner-workings of his mind?
    Sort of like when Glenn Hoddle suggested the disabled had it coming.

  2. Brian

    June 7, 2014 at 9:58 am

    Here’s a good piece in today’s New York Times about kids and the World Cup. About a lot of other things but worth a read:

  3. Remy

    June 7, 2014 at 8:03 am

    Is this the same Bruce Arena that plays mostly foreign players on his team and constantly complains about everything? What a hypocrite. He is just trying to make a case for his own sake.

    Anyway, thanks to him, Giuseppe Rossi is not going to the world cup with the USMNT but instead is going to be sitting on his butt because Arena is so great at evaluating talent and convincing dual national to play for the US.

    • dcudiplomat

      June 7, 2014 at 4:11 pm

      he had no interest in playing for us

    • disagree

      June 12, 2014 at 2:00 pm

      Klinsmann couldn’t have convinced Rossi to play for the US either. He was always going to play for Italy.

  4. john marzan

    June 7, 2014 at 1:47 am

    bruce arena has the same mindset as andres cantor of telemundo. he said in marc stein’s soccer today podcast last week that he was disappointed that landon donovan was dropped out of the USMNT for german players who can even barely speak english. He said that the current US squad doesnt feel like an american team anymore.

    me, dont care where good player comes from or whether he can speak english, if he’s eligible because of US blood.

    the philippine womens’ NT is composed of players 95% of which are born in the USA. would it be better if the players are homegrown? yes. but if you want to win, you need to get the best talent available within the rules.

  5. Brandon Kilgore

    June 7, 2014 at 1:20 am

    While I remain unconvinced about Klinny’s ability to properly helm the national team, I am in total agreement with the crux of the article.

    Ideally, one day in the not too distant future MLS will be an internationally relevant league where top shelf Americans ply their trade for more than an inflated paycheck and the ranks will be teeming with qualified American coaches. Today, however, is not that day. All things equal, I would love to compete for a semi-final spot with an American coach and primarily American based players. This, however, is football, and all things are rarely equal.

  6. Flyvanescence

    June 7, 2014 at 12:10 am

    Kartik you are spot on here. The American development system needs to be completelu overhauled, not blindly trusted.

    Unfortunately the American soccer media is a bunch of yuppies who will eat this up.

  7. Dust

    June 6, 2014 at 11:38 pm

    Bruce Arena, philistine. He’s gone all Dim Sh**ewood & Jaime Redflapp, just the American version. Klinsman is the best thing to happen to US Soccer. He turned Germany around, and is doing the same to America.

    • jtm371

      June 7, 2014 at 9:06 am

      +1 BA is crazy to think a American mls side would even qualify for the WC.

  8. Brian

    June 6, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    If the US follows Bruce Arena’s thinking then US soccer will die in no time at all. Also, if he wants to pick mostly MSL players then that would mean the US would fall even further behind the other countries.

  9. goatslookshifty

    June 6, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    Their results will be the same if the manager was German, American, English or Brazilian.

  10. AJ

    June 6, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    This is ridiculous. Bruce Arena is trying to peg back Klinsmann because he’s s**t manager himself.

    The U.S. has no style to it’s play. We must find a style that we can implement through every age level.

    We need to get over ourselves as “The world’s most powerful.”

    Some people actually have better ideas than us Americans. SHOCKER, I know!

  11. Smokey Bacon

    June 6, 2014 at 9:20 pm

    He’s entitled to his opinion especially after the run to the quarters in 2002. He’s just getting an early start on the inquest that will follow the three and out.

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