Bruce Arena resigned from his post as coach of the United States on Friday, just three days after the North Americans failed to qualify for next year's 2018 World Cup in Russia. Arena had been in the job since November last year, when he replaced Jürgen Klinsmann.
End of the road for Arena
The 66-year-old, who guided the US team into the 2002 World Cup quarter finals and also guided the squad to 2006 World Cup Germany, described the team’s failure to reach next year's Cup for the first time since 1986 as a “major setback”.
He said in a statement: “Questions rightly should be asked about how we can improve. No doubt this process already has started and will continue so that US Soccer can progress”.
The US lost 2-1 to Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday in the final match of the CONCACAF qualifying round. After Honduras and Panama won their matches, Arena's team ended fifth in the table and out of the tournament at the qualifying stage.
Arena replaced German legend Klinsmann after the Americans opened their campaign with defeats to Mexico and Costa Rica. The US entered the final match in third place in the table but struggled against the already-eliminated Caribbeans.
“It is the greatest privilege for any coach to manage their country's national team and as I leave that role today, I am honored and grateful to have had that opportunity twice in my career”, Arena said. “When I took the job last November, I knew there was a great challenge ahead, probably more than most people could appreciate. Everyone involved in the program gave everything they had for the last 11 months and, in the end, we came up short. No excuses. We didn't get the job done, and I accept responsibility”.
Soccer's growth in the United States
Arena pointed to the growth and development of the American program since the United States hosted the World Cup in 1994, as he continued: “It also is important to recognize the tremendous growth and accomplishments we have achieved over the past two decades in all areas, including player development, coaching education and a stable domestic professional league. This work is ongoing and despite the result in Trinidad, the sport is on the right path. By working together, I am confident soccer in this country will continue to grow in the years and decades ahead”.
Arena, who had coached MLS side Los Angeles Galaxy before leaving to take on the US post, said he is uncertain about where he will be working next. “I don't know what the future holds for me, but I can say this from the bottom of my heart: from the high of reaching the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup to the low of a few days ago, I have appreciated every minute of being a part of this program”.