U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati has named Bruce Arena as the new head coach of the U.S. Men’s National Team. Arena, who guided the U.S. to its best finish in the World Cup in more than 80 years with a quarterfinal appearance in 2002, returns to the job where he amassed the most wins of any coach in U.S. MNT history.
Arena, who will assume the role on Thursday, Dec. 1, was formally introduced Tuesday during a teleconference with U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati.
“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,” said Gulati. “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. We all know Bruce will be fully committed to preparing the players for the next eight qualifying games and earning a berth to an eighth-straight FIFA World Cup in Russia.”
Arguably the most accomplished coach in U.S. Soccer history, Arena led the program from 1998-2006 when he compiled a record of 71-30-29. Early in his first tenure, Arena worked to re-build and unite the U.S. player pool with an eye towards the 2002 FIFA World Cup. A two-time winner of the CONCACAF Gold Cup (2002, 2005), he guided the United States to an historic quarterfinal finish in the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea/Japan, shocking Portugal in their opening match before advancing out of the group and earning a 2-0 shutout against Mexico in the Round of 16.
“Any time you get the opportunity to coach the National Team it’s an honor,” said Arena. “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. 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 team finished first in CONCACAF qualifying in 2005, earning a berth to Germany after just seven of 10 matches in the final round. Friendly wins against Germany and Argentina in 1999 set the tone for Arena’s first year as MNT head coach, helping to build the U.S. side towards a third-place finish at the 1999 FIFA Confederations Cup, where they once again defeated Germany on the way to the team’s best finish in that tournament prior to the 2009 edition.
Most recently, Arena served as General Manager and Head Coach of the Galaxy for eight years where he won three titles (2011, 2012, 2014) and made the final a fourth time. As the first coach in D.C. United history, he reached the MLS Cup three times, winning it twice (1996, 1997) in addition to reaching the U.S. Open Cup Final twice and winning the tournament once in 1996. He also helped United become the first MLS team ever to win the CONCACAF Champions Cup and the Interamerican Cup, winning each in 1998.
As the only five-time MLS Cup winning head coach, Arena has worked with numerous coaches throughout his time in Major League Soccer, serving as a mentor to many. In 2014, Arena was named the recipient of the prestigious Werner Fricker Builder Award, the highest honor that an individual can receive from the U.S. Soccer Federation. The Werner Fricker Award is bestowed on an individual who has worked tirelessly on furthering the interest of the sport of soccer without regard to personal recognition or advancement.
A member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame, Arena has thrice been named the MLS Coach of the Year, including winning it in 2009 and 2011 with the LA Galaxy and for the first time in 1997 as head coach of D.C. United.