U.S. soccer fans are living in an "ambitious" post-Beckham world, a time when America's growing influence in and outside of the game means that more will be possible tomorrow than it is today. Indeed, media reports this week that former U.S. national team coach Bruce Arena was interested in being considered for the same position in Scotland is proof of that growing influence.
However, while it's encouraging to see a U.S. coach announce his availability for such a high-profile outside job, USSoccerPlayers' Andrew Dixon doesn't see American coaches excelling abroad anytime soon. "Coaches seeking vacancies in Europe and elsewhere are going to have to bring serious credentials to even get in the door, and then produce some immediate tangible results." In the case of Arena, recent results -- a first-round loss in the 2006 World Cup followed by successive first round losses with the New York Red Bulls in the MLS playoffs -- have caused his stock to slide. Scotland, meanwhile, recently had an impressive run in what was surely the toughest qualifying group for Euro 2008. In other words, Arena may be past his best, while Scotland's young team may well be approaching its best.
"I'd be surprised if Scotland is even looking beyond its borders for a coach," adds Dixon, pointing out that only once in its history has Scotland appointed a foreign coach to lead the national team. That man was former Germany Berti Vogts, who enjoyed middling success at best. It's not that an American can't be a success abroad, Dixon says, it's that the credentials simply aren't there yet. One day, they will be.