US national team coach Bruce Arena has resigned in the wake of failing to reach the 2018 World Cup. The 66-year-old said that "questions rightly should be asked about how we can improve," after missing the cut.
Bruce Arena on Friday resigned as head coach of the US men's national team, describing its failure to reach the World Cup in Russia as a "major setback."
"Questions rightly should be asked about how we can improve," Arena said in a statement. "No doubt this process already has started and will continue so that US Soccer can progress."
Arena, who had taken the US to the 2002 World Cup quarterfinals and the 2006 tournament, replaced Germany's Jürgen Klinsmann after the US made a dire start to the "hexagonal," the decisive World Cup qualification competetition for CONCACAF countries. It appeared that he had done just enough to carry the team to Russia until the Americans lost 2-1 against underdogs Trinidad and Tobago in their final qualifier on Tuesday. Just a draw would have sufficed.
Arena was keen, however, to point at the progress the US men's team has made in recent decades, not missing a World Cup in 32 years prior to Tuesday.
"It is also 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," Arena said.
"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 also issued strong support for the notion of appointing another American to the position, saying he believed "in the American player and the American coach."
A tearful Christian Pulisic, disappointed at missing his first chance at a major international tournament, became a symbol of the disappointment. However, Christian's father Mark Pulisic showed off his German skills in a conciliatory tweet.
"Kopf hoch [roughly: keep your chin up]. Stay humble...go back to work and continue to improve, that's who you are...remember...Keine Ausreden [no excuses]," Pulisic senior advised.
Bruce Arena, too, seems to subscribe to the "no excuses" mantra. But US Soccer president Sunil Gulati said on Friday that he would not be resigning, and that a replacement coach would likely be appointed within around a week.
msh/dv (AFP, dpa, Reuters)