Like it, don’t like it, or be simply okay with it: Bruce Arena is back in charge of the United States men’s national team.
He’s the only coach to lead the U.S. to the World Cup quarterfinals, but also the last one to guide the team to a group stage exit.
So, yeah, there’s something for everyone, from Arena fans to his biggest detractors, when it comes to the hire.
[ MORE: Notable quotes from Gulati, Arena ]
There’s also something for the player pool. While Arena said, “It’s highly unlikely we’re going to bring many new players into the program” in his introductory conference call this morning, he’s obviously going to have some changes in mind. Here’s what we’re thinking, and there’s a lot to like about it.
Timmy Chandler — The Eintracht Frankfurt has struggled at nearly every turn for the USMNT, but should still get a look from Arena given that he’s playing week-in, week-out for a top half Bundesliga team and Klinsmann was using him slightly out of position. Then again, Arena could turn on any given USMNT match that featured Chandler and say, “No way.”
Michael Orozco (right) — At center back, Arena knows he has better options all over Major League Soccer (Tim Hedges, Walker Zimmerman, etc.). At fullback, same.
William Yarbrough and Ethan Horvath — I think Horvath is a possible long-term USMNT starter, but we bet Arena is going down the list of MLS keepers with glee (See “Stock up” for who).
Young guys — Unless you’re Christian Pulisic or some other exceptionally gifted young player already operating at a high level, this isn’t a good sign. Arena had a reputation for taking a while to break younger guys into the fold. This could also be something that changes. Arena said Tuesday that the player pool is better than ever before, and guys like Cameron Carter-Vickers (Spurs) and Julian Green (Bayern Munich) are an injury away from featuring regularly for top clubs. That matters (we think).
Eric Lichaj and Jonathan Spector — Mainstays for their Championship clubs, the pair never got love from Jurgen Klinsmann (and we heard his displeasure with DeAndre Yedlin moving to England’s second tier with Newcastle). Lichaj has played nearly everywhere for Nottingham Forest, and Spector’s been a Birmingham City mainstay. Both could, and should, get looks.
Landon Donovan (but, really, all Galaxy players) — Who knows who Arena really trusts, but if he’s looking to plug a hole who better to ring than someone he’s worked with on a day-to-day basis for ages? We saw this with Michail Antonio during Sam Allardyce‘s short stay at West Ham.
We’re sure there are several Galaxy players who didn’t receive call-ups under Klinsmann, much to the chagrin of Arena. Maybe he adores Daniel Steres, or Sebastian Lletget (speaking of West Ham). You can count on Gyasi Zardes. Now, about Alan Gordon…
As for Donovan, he’s undecided on whether he’ll continue his “unretirement” into 2017. But if he does, we’ve seen what veteran guys like Carlos Ruiz and Christian Bolanos can mean in CONCACAF qualifying.
Bill Hamid, Luis Robles, David Bingham — When it comes to sitting behind and perhaps challenging Brad Guzan and Tim Howard, we expect Arena is going to take his domestic looks first. And several of these names, including the veteran Robles, will have a January camp devoid of European competition to impress Arena.
Benny Feilhaber — This one’s obvious, as he was mentioned in conference call and Klinsmann had no interest in the Sporting KC midfielder. Yes he’s older and probably not going to overtake Sacha Kljestan, but getting even a moment’s consideration is stock up from the Klinsmann era.
Dax McCarty (right) — We doubt Arena is ready to pull the plug on Michael Bradley and even Jermaine Jones, but McCarty has long deserved a return to the fold, if only for a look-see.
Matt Hedges and Walker Zimmerman — Arena watched FC Dallas’ center back duo help shutout his Galaxy over 180 minutes of October ball. And Zimmerman scored the lone goal in one of the matches.
Dom Dwyer — He can apply for U.S. citizenship in 2017, and has had a bit of luck against Arena’s Galaxy. The coach has praised Dwyer as a scorer in the past.
Some other MLS-based names who have had some success against Arena’s Galaxy this year: Keegan Rosenberry, Fatai Alashe, Jordan Morris, Lamar Neagle, Kelyn Rowe.