The United States men's national soccer team named Bruce Arena its manager Tuesday.
U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati addressed the hire in a press release:
When we considered the possible candidates to take over the Men's National Team at this time, Bruce was at the top of the list. His experience at the international level, understanding of the requirements needed to lead a team through World Cup qualifying, and proven ability to build a successful team were all aspects we felt were vital for the next coach. We all know Bruce will be fully committed to preparing the players for the next eight qualifying games and earning a berth to an eighth-straight FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Arena also spoke about returning to the position:
Any time you get the opportunity to coach the National Team it's an honor. I'm looking forward to working with a strong group of players that understand the challenge in front of them after the first two games of the Hex. Working as a team, I'm confident that we'll take the right steps forward to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Arena, 65, takes over for Jurgen Klinsmann, who was fired Monday.
Arena spent eight years as the manager of the United States from 1998 to 2006. His team reached the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup, but he was fired following the 2006 World Cup after the Americans failed to advance to the knockout phase. Since 2008 he's managed the LA Galaxy, leading the club to three MLS Cup titles.
After Klinsmann's recent struggles, a change was clearly needed. In the short term, at least, Jason Davis of FourFourTwo believes Arena's addition is a quality one:
ESPN's Taylor Twellman, on the other hand, believes it is how Arena handles a different aspect of the job that will define his new tenure at the helm:
Indeed, many of the team's most promising prospects—most notably, Julian Green—are foreign-born or were raised outside the United States.
The coming years will show whether the USMNT brought Arena back to prepare for the 2018 World Cup and will reevaluate its options after Russia, or if the program views Arena as the man for the job for the foreseeable future.
Certainly, it is a fascinating period for the United States, with a superstar in the making in Christian Pulisic and a number of young, talented players at Arena's disposal like Green, Jordan Morris, DeAndre Yedlin, John Brooks and Gedion Zelalem, to name a few.
Finding the right blend of young talent with established veterans like Fabian Johnson, Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey—and both a formation and playing style that suit the abilities of his top players, something Klinsmann never quite established—will be another in the long line of challenges Arena faces in his return to the international level.
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