The former LA Galaxy coach has been brought in to ensure that the US men's national team qualifies for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Bruce Arena previously led the US to the 2002 and 2006 World Cups.
The US Soccer Federation (USSF) appointed Bruce Arena as national team head coach for the second time on Tuesday after firing German football legend Jürgen Klinsmann.
Until agreeing to take the national team job, the 65-year-old Arena had been the coach of Major League Soccer (MLS) side LA Galaxy. Previously he coached the US national team from 1998 through 2006, winning more games than any coach in the history of the national team. Under his guidance the US reached the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup where they lost 1-0 to Germany, but he was let go after the 2006 World Cup.
"When we considered the possible candidates to take over the national team at this time, Bruce was at the top of the list," said USSF President Sunil 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."
Arena, whose contract runs through the 2018 World Cup, is to take up his new post on December 1. Klinsmann, who was in the job for five years, was relieved of his duties on Monday in the wake of a 2-1 home defeat against Mexico and a 4-0 loss in Costa Rica in World Cup qualifying.
The use of foreign-born players questioned
Arena was critical of Klinsmann's tenure as coach and after the German named a World Cup-qualifying roster that included German-born players Jermaine Jones and Terrence Boyd.
"Players on the national team should be - and this is my own feeling - they should be Americans. If they're all born in other countries, I don't think we can say we are making progress," Arena told ESPN's "The Magazine."
However, the newly appointed coach was quick to dismiss comments he has made in the past.
"If they hold a US passport, they're eligible to play," said Arena whose 2002 World Cup squad included five foreign-born players.
Arena said the pool of players available for the US had "expanded" since he left the national team. "I think 10 years later I'm better prepared for this job than I was in 1998 and 2002 and ultimately 2006," he said in a teleconference Tuesday.
"I believe there are a number of players in MLS that can play well at the international level and we will certainly find a right balance between our domestic-based and foreign-based players," he said. "I see no reason why we cannot utilize that pool of players in the right fashion."
Many players and figures have welcomed Arena's second spell as coach of the national team
As the US seeks to reach an eighth straight World Cup, the team's next qualifier is on March 24 against Honduras. Arena said he expected to make some changes to the squad but nothing "radical." Arena said that he believed his team would play aggressively since it would be critical to win his first game.
"We're at a time right now where we need to get results, and we need to have a team that's ready to go in March," Arena said.
He said the US team is "not far behind technically" compared to the world's best.
"I really believe individually and positionally we have good players," Arena said. "We've just gotta get them working together as a team."