Bruce Arena’s Nationalistic Criticisms of Jürgen Klinsmann Have No Place in American 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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