Father and son face off in MLS top of the table clash
Bruce and Kenny Arena will be on opposite sides as the New England Revolution and FC Cincinnati battle for top spot the Eastern Conference.
All eyes will be on the Gillette Stadium, Massachusetts on Saturday night as the Eastern Conference’s top two teams go head-to-head.
New England Revolution and FC Cincinnati have both picked up 20 points from their opening nine matches, more than any other side in either conference. The two teams even boast the exact same record of six wins, two draws and one defeat.
The Revolution and FCC have been inseparable on the pitch so far this season and have some pretty tight bonds off it too.
Former USMNT manager Bruce Arena is currently head coach and sporting director for the Revolution. His son, Kenny Arena, is the assistant manager at this weekend’s rivals, FCC.
The duo have worked together in the past but find themselves on opposite sides for Saturday’s big MLS clash.
Speaking ahead of the game, Bruce said that he has enjoyed following his son’s career in football.
“It’s been good. Rewarding, because he’s my son obviously, but he’s done a good job everywhere he’s been,” he said.
“I’ve worked with him at the Galaxy as well as at the national team, and now his work at Cincinnati has been very good and it’s great to see how well that staff has done.”
“Obviously we share a lot of notes together and it’s great to see his development,” Bruce added.
Kenny relishes games against Bruce
Son Kenny may not have Bruce’s longevity just yet, but the 42-year-old has built up a pretty impressive resume since taking his first coaching role at the age of 25. In that time he’s worked his way up from the Virginia Cavaliers college side to a stint as assistant manager to his father for the US national team.
During the course of Kenny’s coaching career, he’s come up against his father on multiple occasions and relishes the opportunity to face Bruce’s team again this weekend.
“I would guess this will be the seventh time I’ve coached against him,” Kenny said, ahead of the Revolution game.
“As much as I’m competing, and trying to beat him, I really just appreciate any time I get to see my family. Our relationship has gotten better and better as I’ve gotten older.”
New England and Cincinnati look to claim top spot
Whoever wins on Saturday will go top of the Eastern Conference after ten games. Both sides’ impressive starts have even made a little bit of MLS history; Saturday’s game is the earliest that two teams with at least 20 points have met in the league’s 27 seasons.
This weekend’s fixture will be the first chance for the league’s two leading sides to go head to head and, despite the close bonds off the pitch, neither team will be underestimating their opponents on Saturday.
“They’re a very good team, clearly,” Bruce said of Cincinnati. “How we match up, I guess we’ll found out on Saturday.
“They’ve got a really well-rounded team and it’s not surprising to see the success that they’ve had in the early going.”
Kenny was on the staff of the LAFC side that won the 2019 Supporters’ Shield, the award for the team with the most points at the end of the regular season. But LAFC were eliminated at the playoffs stage by Seattle Sounders, who went on to lift the MLS Cup that year.
Kenny left the team the following season, meaning that he was not a part of the LAFC side who won the MLS Cup is such dramatic fashion last year.
Such disappointments are unavoidable in the world of sport but Kenny revealed recently that he and Bruce still support each other in their careers. They may be rivals on Saturday but the father and son bond remains strong.
“We talk a bunch of times each week,” Kenny revealed recently. “I’m super happy he’s continued to be successful, and competing against each other is just another amazing experience for both of us.”