Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America Classifieds
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
Galaxy needs Arena, and vice versa
by Ridge Mahoney, August 15th, 2008 6:15PM

MOST READ

MOST COMMENTED

He may yet wind up as coach of the Los Angeles Galaxy, but Bruce Arena does have loftier goals to fulfill sooner or later in his life.

Arena is ready for his next challenge, and repairing what has been wrought at HDC would certainly provide that. But any team that can ring up 40 goals in 20 games doesn't need much more than stitching together the 10 field players to cut down on chances permitted the opposing team.

Either Ruud Gullit couldn't devise or invent such a structure, or he and his assistants failed to implement it, or he just couldn't be bothered. Training sessions that consisted of scrimmages more often than not certainly suited the players, at least those eager to attack, but don't address weaknesses and certainly can't impose the regimen of marking, tracking, tackling and tactical acumen essential to good defense.

Interim head coach Cobi Jones, who retired after the 2007 season, is learning the ropes but isn't one of those students of the game who eagerly took coaching courses. Had there been another assistant coach to handle the X's and O's and conduct meaningful, purposeful training sessions, the Gullit Era might have been successful, or at least longer.

Arena can solve those issues, no doubt, though jumping right back into another chaotic situation similar to the one he left in New York last year isn't irresistible, no matter how burning his ambition to get back into the game. Finding common ground, not to mention respect, between Arena and former team president Marc De Granpre - as clueless about professional soccer as any corporate executive ever put in charge of a team in this country, and that's saying something -- was never going to happen, yet a meeting of the minds -- and egos, to be sure -- of Arena and AEG president Tim Leiweke could be a formidable one indeed.

Even before he left his post as U.S. national team coach during the 2006 World Cup he'd expressed a strong interest in running a pro team or collegiate athletic program, not strictly the business or competitive operations, but the overall direction. In its history as an AEG enterprise, the Galaxy has had just one director steeped in both the game and the business of it, and that was the late Doug Hamilton.

To be sure, the Galaxy lucked into its last title, which it won in November, 2005, four months before Hamilton suffered a fatal heart attack flying back from a CONCACAF match played in Costa Rica. Since then, it has fired three coaches (Steve Sampson, Frank Yallop, and Gullit), won just 16 of 82 games, and missed the playoffs twice.

When players and coaches come and go and the results stink, the problem is guidance, not getting stuck in. In Arena, the Galaxy has both the man to right the ship on the field right away, and also plot a long-term course.

Rather than picking a president and then a head coach, or vice versa, Leiweke can fill both positions by hiring Arena as head coach with the understanding that eventually he'll move up the ladder to president, senior vice president in charge of soccer operations, impresario, czar, or any other title that suits him.

Already in place is an excellent businessman, Tom Payne, from whom Arena can learn that aspect at his own pace, if he wishes to do so. On the soccer side, Arena would be the boss, perhaps working with director of soccer Paul Bravo, coaching the team, and overseeing the reserve and youth teams and all other competitive aspects. He could also select an assistant coach to groom as the eventual head coach when he decided to step down from that job and step up into management.

In the AEG luxury box to watch the Galaxy-Chivas USA game with Leiweke and other executives, Arena looked trimmer, tanner and healthier than the forlorn, fatigued, and exasperated figure he was during last days with Red Bull. It's a stretch to say he looked like a typically laid-back Southern Californian, but the disgruntlement and disgust he felt less than a year ago has vanished.

As the man responsible for directing Phil Anschutz's sports enterprises and much more, Leiweke seeks out the best talent available. He tells prospective AEG employees, "This is where the action is."

A few glances at the large complex that is home to a pair of MLS teams and U.S. Soccer can convince anyone that in terms of the game in America, HDC is where the action is. Despite Arena's disdainful remark a few years ago about it being "an amusement park," it's the best place for him to set up shop.



0 comments
  1. Carl Bickers
    commented on: August 15, 2008 at 6:15 p.m.
    What the Galaxy needs is PLAYERS, not playing musical coaches. There are about 4 players I'd keep - Beckham, Donovan, Kline, Buddle. Everyone else is expendable. Find some D somewhere!

  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: August 16, 2008 at 5:08 p.m.
    At long last, a letter to the LA Times and a comment posted in ESPN re: the Galaxy fiasco, finally hit the nail on the head: Lieweke has a tendency to run pro teams into the ground with his interferece, to wit: LA Kings and the Galaxy, which BTW at one time referred to it as a "wasteland!" So what to do, is to have Uncle Phil put someone in charge who knows sports, not someone who claims to know soccer or ice hockey. As for player changes, Lalas is largely to blam to have brought in slower than molasses Vanney and Klein; keeping Gordon, and Vagenas, and even succumbing to bringing back Ruiz (whose body language telegraphs to one and all he doesn't want to be on th field (let's see how reacts when the US NT plays Guatemala in a few days, you just watch and see a real spark of interest!!!) Good luck to Tom Payne and for a short sting, Cobi Jones. As for Bruce Arena, he does need to go through the interview processes, and besides if he is such a great coach, why hasn't he been picked up by another team, pro, collegiate, or youth? Lastly, the BA butt kissing exhibited by Harkes and Stone and then Lieweke on national tv Thursday night was enough to turn one's stomach!!!

  1. Paul Bryant
    commented on: August 18, 2008 at 12:22 p.m.
    I wonder if Arena can keep his over-size ego in check. I think he believes he's the founding-father of modern U.S. soccer. As you can tell I 'm not a big fan. He ruined the last U.S. World Cup team as well as the Red Bulls. He may be a competent X and O's coach, but can he inspire his players. I wonder how Donavan feels about Arena as a potential coach?


Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Confidential
No beach time for Lampard just yet    
One of the most-capped players in the history of England's national team, midfielder Frank Lampard says ...
Proposing a radical rule addition to protect players    
The best World Cup ever? Not if you are concerned about player safety.
Brazil Diary: Germans bring joy to Rio    
Two sets of fans on the subway leaving the Maracana station on Sunday night wore German ...
Soccer America's World Cup Best XI    
In a tournament with so many twists and turns, it isn't easy to come up with ...
Germany-Argentina Player Ratings    
A gripping World Cup final ended with a superb goal by Mario Goetze that earned Germany ...
Germany is Weltmeister, deservedly    
RIO DE JANEIRO -- Mario Goetze, who was born nearly two years after Germany last won ...
The 10 best things about the 2014 World Cup    
Brazil 2014 has been the best World Cup of our lifetime. Beginning with the first three ...
Brazil Diary: Meeting Pele     
Life is good. On Saturday I had the offer of a free sandwich and a roundtable ...
Dutch pile more misery onto Brazil's nightmare    
Few Brazilian fans could have foreseen how hosting the World Cup would end, with a depressing ...
Brazil Diary: Lost in translation but loving it    
I find Brazilian Portuguese to be a beautiful language. The woman's voice coming over the P.A. ...
>> Soccer America Confidential Archives