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Bruce Arena on Donovan, Klinsmann and USA's Bright Future

  • SI.com, Friday, December 5, 2014 3:58 PM

SI.com’s Grant Wahl interviews LA Galaxy coach Bruce Arena on a range of topics including Landon Donovan’s impending retirement, Jurgen Klinsmann’s handling of the U.S. men’s national team, the growth of MLS, and the future of soccer in the U.S. Regarding his “close” relationship with Donovan, who will play his last-ever game in the MLS Cup final against the New England Revolution on Sunday, Arena says: “Oddly enough, I don’t think it’s that close. ... We’re not hanging out together off the field, but it’s one of respect. It’s a relationship that’s been challenging at times, but in the end we both know each other are pretty good people. We mean to do the right things for each other.”

Arena, who has coached Donovan with the Galaxy and as coach of the national team, says that objectively, the 32-year-old would probably make most people’s top five list for greatest-ever USA player: “His numbers speak for themselves,” he says. ‘Me being a full-time coach, I always think they could be better. He, being who he is as Landon, thinks they’re fine. He’s always looked for things outside the game. ... He hasn’t been consumed with necessarily being the best player on Earth.”

Asked about USA coach Klinsmann’s belief that the best U.S. players should accelerate their development by going abroad, Arena says: “I don’t agree with that. I don’t think [foreign clubs] necessarily know anything more about soccer. I don’t think there’s any reason to believe that we can’t develop elite players here. And we should encourage our elite players to stay here, and we should have the resources to keep them here.” He adds: “Jurgen only knows Europe. He doesn’t know the United States as well as he needs to. He’s got to learn our culture and our system a little bit better. And help make it better. It’s part of his job.”

Regarding soccer’s future in the U.S., Arena is particularly bullish: “I think the future’s bright,” he says. “This sport is made in this country. I really believe that. Now it’s a question of how much up the ladder we can push it.”

Asked about MLS, in particular, Arena ends with an anecdote: “When I was a kid growing up in New York, you could walk into Yankee Stadium or Madison Square Garden and buy a ticket and go see a game. They weren’t on television. The games were blacked out. Those leagues already had existed like 40 years. And we’re in Year 19. We’re way ahead of where the NBA was, major league baseball and the NFL. Way ahead of them. And nobody ever tells that story. And now we have much more competition than they would have had at the time. Our league is a fabulous story. We’ve been fighting the odds, greater odds than they ever fought."

Read the whole story at SI.com »

2 comments about "Bruce Arena on Donovan, Klinsmann and USA's Bright Future".
  1. Thomas Brannan, December 5, 2014 at 5:44 p.m.

    In regards to JK not knowing the culture in America as well as he thinks he does I think Bruce Arena is correct.
    In regards to the five best players in American Soccer History there will always be people left out by some because they didn't see them or were from another era. However, as Arena says, he didn't see the 1950 team. I wasn't in Belo Horizonte either but you would have to include Charles (Charlie) Columbo. I did see him many weekends at Fairgrounds Park #2 in St. Louis. There was a guy who wasn't on that team. John Harkes doing an MLS game over a year ago said when Altidore got three goals in 5 games that only two other players have done that for the MNT. One was Landon Donovan, one was then Jozy Altidore and the other was William (BILL) Looby, IR Kutis. At that time there were very few MNT internationals. Not like today. When Kutis played Simpkins 5 of the players on the field were in Belo Horizonte. A good number of others could have been, one being Looby.

  2. cisco martinez, December 6, 2014 at 2:33 p.m.

    Bruce arena is a fantastic coach, if only he wasn't fired after 2006. I am still stunned at Sunil gulati to extend klinsmanns contract until 2018? Klinsmann has not done anything that Arena did as far as the national team, and IF klinsmann doesn't at least make the quarterfinals for 2018, then maybe we should reasess our extensions for coaches for subpar performances.

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