CARSON, Calif. – One thing may have gotten lost over the last few MLS Cup days, buried beneath the excited chatter over David Beckham’s future and Landon Donovan’s career mid-life crisis, and stuck behind the stacks of accolades going Dominic Kinnear’s way:
Bruce Arena is a pretty darn good coach, too.
We knew that, of course. And perhaps that’s another reason it was a story angle that got elbowed aside by more evocative subplots around MLS Cup 2012.
Last night the L.A. Galaxy joined D.C. United as the only MLS club with four titles. What is the one common denominator there? It’s Arena, who presided over the first two trophies that found their way to RFK Stadium in the nation’s capital.
Now his four MLS Cup trophies are twice as many as anyone else.
Arena’s influence on a team that just defended the MLS Cup title has hardly been lost on the man of the moment, David Beckham.
He offered Arena much of the credit for bringing stability to an organization that really had lost its way in some areas; the club was seriously all over the place in Beckham’s first two years. Beckham admitted they were not happy years.
Indeed, Frank Yallop, Beckham’s first coach here, is a highly respected figure. But perhaps Yallop wasn’t the right man for this rather unique job – dealing with the Beckham tsunami – because he’s just too nice a fellow, a guy who just wasn’t good at putting his foot down with players or upper management.
Then came the lost and unhelpful Ruud Gullit months; the Dutchman never had his heart in it, so that was a failed bit at the Home Depot Center from the start.
Then came Arena, who had the chops to say what needed to be said and had the experience to understand what kind of personnel would work in MLS.
“He’s a great man-manager,” Beckham said two days before the final. “He’s strong and harsh when he needs to be, but he also puts his arm around you and has a joke when you need that. I owe a lot to Bruce and his staff.”