Monday, May 22, 2006

From the ashes comes the Bruce, the greatest coach ever

As US soccer fans look forward to the three game 'send off' series over the next week, USA Today takes a look back at the darkest of times for the national team: 1998.

That year the US limped away from the World Cup in France scoring just one goal in three matches. That tournament saw the team fall apart into a squabbling mess of forgettable junk.

But from that vomit came the savior - trumpets play - ALL WELCOME THE BRUCE!

Okay, enough of the messiah complex, the article does a fine job at looking back and seeing how close the American team came to passing by Arena in favor of a foreign coach. Thankfully outgoing US Soccer President Alan Rothenberg turned the search over to incoming President Bob Contiguglia.

Contiguglia saw what Arena had done at Virginia and with DC United and knew this was the man to give rebirth to the team.

Sure enough, it came to pass.

"I think first, Bruce is a coach who understands American soccer players, and they're a different animal because of the culture they've grown up in," said Alexi Lalas, a former U.S. national player now serving as general manager of the MLS' L.A. Galaxy.

"More often, American soccer players are educated at a higher academic level, and they think the game and ask questions much more. All that can lead to challenges if you don't recognize it."


"I think Bruce simplified things and took a logical, bottom-line approach, which was kind of refreshing," said Eric Wynalda, a former U.S. team member who now works as an analyst for ABC and ESPN. "He recognized that soccer players in the U.S. didn't need to be taught as much as they needed to be pushed to play better."

Anyone who follows the US team knows full well how great Arena has been for the team, so this is nothing new. But coming into this World Cup, there are thousands of possible fans that know not what the Bruce has done. They still view the US as the team that played so dismally in 1998. As America gets ready for what might be their hardest, yet most rewarding cup ever, these are the types of articles that are needed.

So take a moment and pass this one along to the 'on the border fans' that you know. Share the greatness that is Bruce Arena.



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