According to a number of reports across the United States media, including Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated and Ives Galarcep of Goal USA, have stated that U.S. Soccer has reached an agreement with current LA Galaxy manager and former USMNT head coach Bruce Arena, who will take over as soon as Tuesday.
Arena was the USMNT manager from 1998-2006, replacing Steve Sampson. He owns the most wins of any U.S. manager with 71, and he brought the United States to the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup before losing 1-0 to Germany.
He takes over with the United States in last place in the Hexagonal round of World Cup qualification, after two consecutive losses to Mexico and Costa Rica, which proved to be the last straw for Jurgen Klinsmann, who was fired on Monday. It is unclear what the preferred length of Arena’s tenure will be, but many have speculated that his initial deal will be two years, handing him the reigns through the 2018 World Cup. Arena is seen by many as more of a short-term stop gap rather than a long-term solution.
The feeling is that with the early hole in 2018 World Cup qualifying, U.S. Soccer is focused less on long-term program development, and is instead focused on ensuring a spot in Russia 2018. Once that is accomplished, a more broad approach can once again be taken. Arena is seen as someone who knows the system, knows the players, and brings a deep passion that is desperately needed after lackluster performances.
The 65-year-old Arena will bring a confidence and swagger to the US setup, something not seen during Klinsmann’s reign, with the German often remaining calm, cool, and collected through the ups and downs. However, he isn’t widely thought of as the talent identifier that is desperately needed down the road to ensure the talent pool continues to grow.
Other popular names brought up for U.S. head coach include Americans Peter Vermes, Jason Kreis, and Jesse Marsch. Others floated less commonly include Gregg Berhalter, Dominic Kinnear, Caleb Porter and Sigi Schmidt. Those same names will likely come up again should Arena only serve for a short amount of time.
For the Los Angeles Galaxy, they will now be left to pick up the pieces after losing their wildly successful manager. According to Fox Sports’ Rob Stone, they could promote from within and hire Galaxy II manager Curt Onalfo to the now-vacant senior team position.