L.A. Galaxy’s Bruce Arena: He’s a pretty good coach, too

7 Comments

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.”

FIFA bans Colombia midfielder Cardona 5 games for gesture

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images
Leave a comment

ZURICH (AP) FIFA has banned Colombia midfielder Edwin Cardona for five matches for making a discriminatory gesture with his eyes toward a South Korean opponent.

FIFA will allow Cardona to serve the ban in friendly games, so he should be available for Colombia’s World Cup opener against Japan on June 19.

[ MORE: Pep on post-derby celebrations ]

Cardona has also been fined 20,000 Swiss francs ($20,150) because of the incident last month in a friendly in Seoul.

Cardona apologized at the time, saying he “didn’t mean to disrespect anyone, a country or a race, but if anyone felt offended, or interpreted it in that way, I am sorry.”

Spurs’ Alderweireld won’t return until February

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Spurs finally got a bit of good news this weekend with a blowout of Stoke City.

That was a followed by a tough draw against Juventus in the UEFA Champions League, and bad news on an old injury.

[ MORE: Benitez on NUFC struggles ]

Center back Toby Alderweireld is going to be gone into February, extending his time on the sidelines with a hamstring injury suffered Nov. 1 against Real Madrid.

Spurs were 6-2-2 in league when Alderweireld went down, and are just 2-2-2 since the injury. The Belgian has missed losses at Arsenal and Leicester, draws against Watford and West Brom, and wins over Crystal Palace and Stoke.

Tottenham did win both of its UCL matches since the injury.

Benitez: If we can’t add in January, work gets harder

David Davies/PA via AP
Leave a comment

Newcastle United has swung from the top half of the table to the fringes of the drop zone, something that hasn’t caught Rafa Benitez off guard.

The veteran manager has not lost sight of his August transfer window shortcomings. He hasn’t dwelled on it in the media, but Benitez is also very cognizant that his team has lacked depth at striker, out wide, and at left back.

[ MORE: Pep on post-derby celebrations ]

To boot, most of his additions — Mikel Merino, Christian Atsu, Javi Manquillo — haven’t been loaded with experience.

“Some games we are the youngest team in the Premier League. We have to learn quickly. This team is working very hard. Little things we have to improve and we will be stronger.”

“We know our job. Everyone has an opinion. It’s not rocket science – we need players in some positions. If we can, fine, if not, we will have to work harder.”

Newcastle isn’t far away, but it’s woefully short at left back (to the point where it’s best options have been displaced center back Chancel Mbemba and right back Manquillo), and Benitez doesn’t trust Aleksandar Mitrovic up top with Joselu not firing (though Championship star scorer Dwight Gayle may be coming around).

Additions are still needed, and perhaps Benitez is marginally better off that Newcastle didn’t continue overachieving as it did early days.

Premier League Preview: Swansea City vs. Manchester City

Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Leave a comment
  • Man City leads all-time 22W-4D-7L
  • Swans winless in 11 vs. Man City
  • Last Swans win: 2012 at home

Manchester City can set the Premier League record for consecutive wins in a single season when it visits Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium on Wednesday (Watch live at 2:45 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Each side has scored in the last eight meetings between the two in all competitions, which is about the only bit of good news for Paul Clement‘s side outside of their weekend win over West Brom. Man City has dominated the series in recent memory, and really all time.

[ MORE: Pep on post-derby celebrations ]

And some good news for Man City, too: There won’t be any problem with what they do in their own changing room.

“Like any club, Manchester City are able to play music in their dressing room,” a Swansea City spokesman said following the fracas at the Manchester Derby.

Wilfried Bony will be fired up to face his former club, and he’s coming off a big goal to sink West Brom. He’s going to have a lot in the tank. From the Manchester Evening News:

“Every game I look forward to but it is special to play against your old team. Injuries had an impact on my time at City. When you come from a club where you play every game and then you are playing maybe once a month or two games a month it is completely different.”

Vincent Kompany is out for Man City.

What they’re saying

Swansea City back Alfie Mawson on slowing Man City“I’m very fortunate to test myself against the highest calibre of footballer there is. City are flying this season. They’ve got one of the best managers in the world. We’ve got to find a way to combat them. Every team is finding it hard and I’m sure it’s going to be a very tough game because of the quality and depth they have. We’ve got to be switched on for the entire game, as they’ll punish one lapse in concentration.”

Man City’s Kevin De Bruyne on the 11-point table lead“Lots of teams lost points this weekend so it is a big one for us [the win] just to put more pressure on the rest. We have to enjoy it and then focus again for Wednesday. It is a big gap. If we slip up we are still in the lead. We can’t be complacent. We need to do what we have all year. I prefer to be 11 points ahead than 11 points behind that’s for sure.”

Prediction

The run continues, as Paul Clement prioritizes Saturday’s trip to Everton and City cruises to a 3-0 win.