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Bruce Arena is out as head coach of the U.S. men’s national team, U.S. Soccer announced in a press release on Friday morning.
Arena leaves the post following the team’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. The USMNT lost on Tuesday at Trinidad and Tobago and finished a disastrous fifth in the hexagonal, with USA missing out on its first World Cup since 1986.
Arena released the following statement:
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.
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.
Arena took over for Jurgen Klinsmann late last year and helped right the ship for the most part to get the team’s World Cup qualifying campaign back on track with impressive results, including a 1-1 draw at Mexico and important wins against Honduras, Panama and Trinidad and Tobago at home. But losses at home to Costa Rica and ultimately at Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday did the team in.
Arena’s 66.55 winning percentage is the best all-time in U.S. Soccer for a manager that has coached more five matches. Arena coached 148 of them, leading the U.S. to the World Cup quarterfinals in 2002 during his first stint as USMNT boss.
Now U.S. Soccer turns its focus on finding the right guy to replace him.