Bruce Arena has resigned from his position as manager of the U.S. Men’s National Team after their failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
His resignation was expected from the moment the final whistle blew in the USMNT’s embarrassing loss to Trinidad & Tobago on the final day of qualification. The loss dropped the US from third place to fifth on CONCACAF table and eliminated them from the World Cup.
Now it is official.
In a statement, Arena said, “It is the greatest privilege for any coach to manage their country’s national team, and as I leave that role today I am honored and grateful to have had that opportunity twice in my career.”
He went on from there to take responsibility for the loss, while also expressing hope for the future of American soccer.
When I took the job last November, I knew there was a great challenge ahead, probably more than most people could appreciate. Everyone involved in the program gave everything they had for the last 11 months and, in the end, we came up short. No excuses. We didn’t get the job done, and I accept responsibility.
This certainly is a major setback for the senior Men’s National Team program, and questions rightly should be asked about how we can improve. No doubt this process already has started and will continue so that U.S. Soccer can progress. Having said that, it also is 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. 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.
Obviously the biggest disappointment is for our fans. As a person involved in the sport for more than 40 years, to see how support for soccer in the United States has grown is incredibly gratifying. I believe I speak for everyone involved in the game in thanking all of you for your passion and commitment, and I hope you maintain your steadfast support of U.S. Soccer.
While this is a difficult time, I maintain a fierce belief that we are heading in the right direction. I believe in the American player and the American coach, and with our combined efforts the future remains bright. I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I can say this from the bottom of my heart: from the high of reaching the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup to the low of a few days ago; I have appreciated every minute of being a part of this program.
His resignation brings Arena’s second stint with the team to an end. Arena had previously led the United States from 1998 to 2006, taking the Americans to the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup. For his most recent run, Arena was brought back to the program in an effort to right the ship after then-manager Jurgen Klinsmann got the team off to a shaky start in CONCACAF qualification play.
Arena got off to a fine enough start, with a 6-0 win against Honduras, but the USMNT quickly returned to its streak of disappointing results, losing at home to Costa Rica and then finally culminating in the loss to Trinidad & Tobago that shut the door on the Americans’ World Cup hopes.
“We didn’t qualify for the World Cup,” Arena said after the decisive loss. “That was my job. To get the team qualified for the World Cup.”
“We have no excuses. We failed today.”
Now, United States soccer will begin its search for a new manager who will be charged with turning the program around after its most embarrassing result in decades. With stars players aging out and a once-in-a-generation talent currently still finding his role on the national team, whoever gets the gig will have quite a job ahead of them.