Less Attitude, More Gratitude
USSF President Sunil Gulati made a brief appearance on ESPN’s “Outside The Lines” recently, discussing the implications of USA’s early World Cup exit.
With regard to Bruce Arena’s future, Gulati said US Soccer would look at “eight years, highlighted by 5 games in 2002 and the 3 games just. Obviously, whether it’s human nature or whatever, those 3 games will be given more weight, but our decision about where we go doesn’t depend solely on those 3 games.”
Seems fair enough, but with rumours already circulating that Jurgen Klinsmann is all set to take over (though apparently he’s busy right now) I hope Arena jumps before he’s pushed, and that he gets the respect he’s due.
It’s understandable to be frustrated with this World Cup performance, and definitely Arena’s negative tactics take up a big slice of the “why we’re out” pie chart. But when Arena leaves his post it should be a sort of honourable discharge, not a public lynching.
The fact that our early exit warranted 20 minutes on “Outside The Lines” is testament to how far Arena has brought US soccer. Before you call for his head, remember this is the same coach that took a US team to the quarter finals in 2002 and to an unprecedented 4th in FIFA’s World Rankings (however meaningless they actually are).
As with all things US Soccer the two schools of thought on Arena’s employemnt situation can be defined as Eric Wynalda vs Alexi Lalas. Wynalda was very quick to call for heads to roll after the Ghana game, that’s just the way he is, but I tend to agree with Alexi Lalas who said “even if Bruce Arena had won the World Cup, it would still be time for him to move on.”
Firing Arena won’t solve US soccer’s problems. Ethnic minorities won’t suddenly be absorbed into the US soccer system, MLS players won’t inexplicably get big offers from European clubs and Ronaldinho won’t magically come and play for Columbus Crew. But some of our problems were solved, slowly but surely, while Arena was in charge. He brought a more organised, professional approach to the whole setup and the result was a World Cup on European soil where USA had expectations of reaching the second round.
So, if and when Arena resigns or is fired, he deserves a pat on the back for eight years good work, not public scorn for one bad week.
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