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And then there was the time Bruce Arena played for the United States

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Bruce Arena has been a lot of things during his time in American soccer. He was head coach of the United States at the 1996 Summer Olympics, led the Americans to a quarterfinal appearance at the 2002 FIFA World Cup, and a terrible showing at the the 2006 FIFA World Cup. He served as head coach of New York Red Bulls, D.C. United, and the Los Angeles Galaxy in Major League Soccer, winning four MLS Cups. He won five national championships while guiding the University of Virginia

But you might not know that the former goalkeeper earned one cap with the United States national team in 1973. We didn’t either until this piece showed up on USSoccer.com.

Arena went on a trip with the Stars and Stripes to Israel, coming on in the second half of a 2-0 loss to Israel. The future coach did not give up a goal. How many goalkeepers can say that?

He tells Tom Dunmore the details:

When we checked into the hotel in Bersheeba, where we were playing Israel, none of the workers were there because they were out to war. We got in late at night and there wasn’t anything to eat. They may have brought us a plate of tomatoes and celery but we had a couple of bottles of scotch. Our preparation for that game was sitting in the hotel lobby and drinking scotch. I don’t know whether U.S. Soccer is making progress or going backwards from those days (he says laughing) but that was our preparation for that game and that’s when I got my first cap, against Israel. It was a good experience.

There’s also this great anecdote:

Curiously enough, Arena wasn’t the only American player to earn his single international cap that day. The coach himself, 42-year-old English-born Gordon Bradley, also played in his one and only game for the American team against Israel alongside Arena. With the U.S. team struggling for starters due to injuries, Bradley — who was also a player-coach for the Cosmos — played the whole game as the team’s sweeper.

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?

Olivier Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott

Olivier Giroud, France
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Is it just me, or does the press really only ever get noteworthy quotes from players during international breaks?

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I suppose it’s not surprising, given Premier League players get away from the mean ole British press, go back to their respective homelands and speak with journalists they’ve likely known since their early playing days, thus feel more comfortable opening up about key issues.

Anyway, today we have Olivier Giroud essentially calling himself out for having lost the starting striker’s job at Arsenal because he’s been outplayed of late by Theo Walcott. As discussed before, this is bad news for Giroud because he’s now falling down the depth chart for France with next summer’s European Championship on the horizon.

[ MORE: Aguero admits he wants Guardiola link-up ]

Giroud, on losing his place at Arsenal — quotes from the Guardian:

“At Arsenal, I am in competition with Theo for the striker position. But he is doing well at the moment, so there is no reason to change.

“Whether it was at Tours, Montpellier or Arsenal, I have never experienced a situation like this, I have often played from the start. I need to take positives and to harden myself mentally. It is something new for me.

“I was in [Walcott’s] place in previous seasons at Arsenal. I imagine what he must have been thinking. But I feel that the coach believes in me.”

Giroud goes on to cast into doubt his own confidence, stating in very certain terms he needs “to believe more in [his] abilities.” Giroud’s always come across as a bit of an existentialist, but it’s always strange to hear players publicly call themselves out — particularly their confidence — as if that’s not going to increase the pressure currently weighing down on them.

[ MORE: Rodgers reportedly chosen to take over at Aston Villa ]

The next eight months are going to be monumentally important in Giroud’s career, as the 29-year-old attempts to prove he’s worth keeping around at Arsenal and deserving of a place in the national team squad for next summer’s EUROs, which are to be played in France.