Arena, now in his second season as Galaxy head coach, led Los Angeles to one of the most dramatic single-season turnarounds in MLS history, going from the bottom of the Western Conference with an 8-13-9 record and 33 points while also giving up an MLS-high 62 goals.
Arena's first task was to rebuild the Galaxy with a combination of rookies like Maryland's Omar Gonzalez and A.J. Delagarza and veterans like U.S. national team veteran Gregg Berhalter and goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, a 32-year-old Jamaican international.
In addition, Arena helped reconcile the highly publicized differences between stars Landon Donovan and David Beckham.
Prior to being hired by the Galaxy, Arena served as coach of the New York Red Bulls during the 2006 and 2007 seasons. His most successful MLS stint came as the head coach of D.C. United from 1996 through 1998, where he captured two MLS Cups in three appearances.
He joins current U.S. national team head coach Bob Bradley, his former assistant at the University of Virginia, the U.S. Olympic team and D.C. United, and Seattle Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid as a two-time recipient of the award.
Schmid and Columbus Crew head coach Robert Warzycha were the other finalists for the 2009 Coach of the Year award.
MLS Coach of the Year Winners:
2009: Bruce Arena - Los Angeles Galaxy
2008: Sigi Schmid - Columbus Crew
2007: Preki - Chivas USA
2006: Bob Bradley - Chivas USA
2005: Dominic Kinnear - San Jose Earthquakes
2004: Greg Andrulis - Columbus Crew
2003: Dave Sarachan - Chicago Fire
2002: Steve Nicol - New England Revolution
2001: Frank Yallop - San Jose Earthquakes
2000: Bob Gansler - Kansas City Wizards
1999: Sigi Schmid - Los Angeles Galaxy
1998: Bob Bradley - Chicago Fire
1997: Bruce Arena - D.C. United
1996: Thomas Rongen - Tampa Bay Mutiny