Focus on teamwork to bring Cup berth: Arena

LOS ANGELES • An older, wiser Bruce Arena returned to the US national football team coaching role on Tuesday after a 10-year absence, vowing talent and hard work will result in a 2018 World Cup berth.

The 65-year-old, who had guided the team from 1998 to 2006 before taking charge of Major League Soccer's Los Angeles Galaxy, was named to replace Jurgen Klinsmann, who was fired on Monday after five years in the role.

The Americans lost World Cup 2018 qualifiers 1-2 at home to Mexico and 0-4 at Costa Rica, but their next qualifier is on March 24 at home against Honduras, giving Arena time to revamp the squad.

"We'll develop an identity over the next couple of months to build the best team we can be and be ready when March 24 rolls around," he said. "I don't think the roster is going to have radical changes but obviously there will be some.

"What I really know is how to build a team. I'm hopeful those qualities will allow me to get this team moving at full speed when qualifying starts in March."

  • BRUCE ARENA'S US RECORD

  • W: 71

    D: 29

    L: 30

While Klinsmann often pitted players against one another to boost talent at every position, the impact hit camaraderie and Arena sees teamwork as a high priority.

"We need to build the chemistry of this team and have a common goal," Arena said. "I believe we have good players. We've just got to get them working together as a team."

Arena, whose 2002 line-up reached the World Cup quarter-finals before falling to Germany, said the US squad have advanced in the years since his contract was not renewed after a first-round ouster in the 2006 World Cup.

"US Soccer has made great progress. With the growth of the league, the players playing abroad, we have a very good pool of players," he said.

Klinsmann expanded that pool by turning to many foreign-born US players, a move which Arena and US Soccer president Sunil Gulati said remains a priority.

"I'm looking forward to our 'foreign nationals' as well as our domestic players," Arena said.

He said he will be better than he was during his first stint as coach - when he went 71-30 with 29 drawn - after having worked with such ex-Galaxy talents as English stalwarts David Beckham and Steven Gerrard.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 24, 2016, with the headline 'Focus on teamwork to bring Cup berth: Arena'. Print Edition | Subscribe