When you have done as much as Bruce Arena has in the game, you have earned some measure of security and cushioning … and that allows you to be honest in ways that not all managers are 100 percent comfortable with.
Then again, Arena has always been honest about things, even before he had earned the right in such a way … sometimes even controversially so. Like way, way back when he infamously said Americans were “too stupid know how to fix a draw.”
Yeah, that one was uncomfortable.
His two-time defending MLS champion LA Galaxy is at RFK Stadium today for a match with Eastern Conference also ran D.C. United. It’s a great chance for the Galaxy to pick up three road points.
Ahead of the match, Arena had a sit-down with Washington Post reporter Steven Goff, who goes way back with first coach of D.C. United. So they went around the table on some broader MLS topics, like scheduling through FIFA dates and the potential for a reduced league schedule.
And they talked about artificial turf, which few in the game appreciate. But most don’t bring the big hammer the way Arena feels comfortable in doing. Here’s what he said and the fake grass at four MLS venues:
They are disasters. The only one that is somewhat acceptable is Portland. The others are all terrible. Seattle is bad. Vancouver is probably the worst. And New England isn’t good.”
It’s a good read. He’s got interesting takes on the Clint Dempsey acquisition, on MLS after 18 years and more.
The group stage of qualification is complete, as 20 teams have clinched a berth at EURO 2016, which kicks off next summer in France.
The top-two finishers in each group automatically qualified, as did the best third-place side out of all the groups (Turkey). France qualified automatically as the host nation.
[ MORE: EURO 2016 roundup ]
That leaves eight third-place teams to battle for the final four spots through a play-off. The draw for the matchups will take place on October 18, and those matches will be held from November 12-17 as a home-and-home play-off.
- Czech Republic
- Turkey (automatically qualified as best third-place side)
- Bosnia and Herzegovina (qualified for play-off)
- Ukraine (qualified for play-off)
- Republic of Ireland (qualified for play-off)
- Slovenia (qualified for play-off)
- Northern Ireland
- Hungary (qualified for play-off)
- Sweden (qualified for play-off)
- Norway (qualified for play-off)
- Denmark (qualified for play-off)
The group stage of qualifying for the 2016 European Championship has come to a close, and one of the top teams in the world will not be playing in France next summer.
Netherlands 2-3 Czech Republic
The Netherlands finished second at the 2010 World Cup and third at the 2014 World Cup, but have failed to qualify for EURO 2016. Playing in front of a home crowd in a must-win match against the Czech Republic, the Dutch got off to a dreadful start, falling behind 2-0 as manager Danny Blind was forced to make a substitution within the opening 40 minutes. The Czech Republic was sent to ten men before the break, but an own-goal from Robin Van Persie made it 3-0 as the Dutch couldn’t recover. A disastrous result for the Netherlands, as big changes will surely come from the top down.
[ RELATED: David de Gea fighting for starting goalkeeper position with Spain ]
Italy 2-1 Norway
Italy finishes atop Group H without a loss after defeating Norway 2-1 today. Norway took the lead through Norwich City’s Alexander Tettey, but late goals from Alessandro Florenzi and Southampton’s Graziano Pelle gave the Italians all three points.
Malta 0-1 Croatia
With Norway’s loss, Croatia jumped into second place in Group H and secured qualification to EURO 2016 with a 1-0 win away at Malta. Inter Milan’s Ivan Perisic scored the game’s only goal, as Croatia advances despite having one point deducted due to inappropriate actions from their fans.
Elsewhere in EURO qualifying
Turkey 1-0 Iceland
Latvia 0-1 Kazakhstan
Belgium 3-1 Israel
Wales 2-0 Andorra
Cyprus 2-3 Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bulgaria 2-0 Azerbaijan