Bruce Arena is head coach of the men's National Team, leading the soccer team to three straight years of winning records in international play.
Had there been any doubters to begin with, Bruce Arena would have silenced them after his first year on the job as head coach of the U.S. Men's National Team. After compiling a 7-4-2 record, which included two victories over Germany, a 1-0 triumph over Argentina and a come-from-behind win over Chile, not to mention a strong third place showing at the 1999 FIFA Confederations Cup in Mexico, Arena has shown the confidence placed in him to guide the U.S. Men has not been misplaced.
As the first U.S. head coach with the advantage of a complete four-year World Cup cycle to build his program, Arena has shown unwavering faith in the young American player, utilizing Major League Soccer players as well as the usual suspects of overseas American professionals.
Since taking over in October, 1998, 47 players have earned at least one cap under Arena, including 17 players who have earned their first-ever international appearance. When the search for a new head coach began at the conclusion of the 1998 World Cup, some of the criteria that kept popping up included, among other things: a) an American coach, b) a coach with international experience, c) a coach that understands the American player, and d) a coach who knows how to develop American talent.
With his incredible success at the professional level and the collegiate level, international experience with the 1996 U.S. Olympic Team and a reputation as a great developer of talent, Arena was a perfect fit.
With 18 seasons under his belt as the head soccer coach at the University of Virginia and three more in Major League Soccer with D.C. United, Bruce Arena spent 21 seasons at the highest levels of club soccer in the United States.
At D.C. United the 48-year-old Arena has had the Midas touch. Despite winning the first two MLS championships and the 1996 U.S. Open Cup, perhaps his finest accomplishments came in international victories in 1998. First, United claimed an impressive victory in the CONCACAF Champions Cup final over Toluca, 1-0, on Aug. 16 in Washington, D.C. The victory crowned D.C. United as the club champion of CONCACAF, an amazing achievement for a team that didn't play its first game until 1996. The triumph put United into the Interamerican Cup, a two- leg battle with Brazil's Vasco da Gama which set the team up for the greatest triumph, a 2-1, two-game aggregate victory which crowned D.C. as the champion of the Western Hemisphere.
Those titles, combined with his four NCAA titles, one U.S. Open Crown, and two MLS Cup victories, marked Arena's eighth and ninth championship of the 1990s. To earn his two MLS titles, Arena built the team from scratch after being hired on January 3, 1996 for the team's debut season. That summer, the native of Brooklyn, N.Y., not only led United to victory in the inaugural MLS Cup, but guided the U.S. Under-23 National Team for 44 games through the Summer Olympiad in Atlanta.
With the Olympic team, Arena was widely credited with accelerating the development of a number of U.S. National Team players, including midfielder Claudio Reyna and defender Eddie Pope, both of whom became eventual starters on the USA's 1998 World Cup Team.
In 1997, Arena duplicated his efforts with United, advancing D.C. to a second MLS Cup title to earn MLS Coach of the Year honors.
When Arena took on the professional challenge of guiding D.C. United and the Under-23 National Team, it brought to a close an 18-year career as head soccer coach at the University of Virginia where he built the program into a perennial powerhouse, winning five NCAA Division I championships while amassing a record of 295-58-32. His winning percentage (.808) at UVa ranks among the best ever in collegiate sports, surpassing even legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden (.804).
Arena took over the soccer program at Virginia upon his arrival in Charlottesville in 1978 from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., where he was an assistant lacrosse coach. Inheriting a Virginia program that had enjoyed modest success, Arena ran up a 21-6-3 record in his first two seasons. In 1980 the Cavaliers finished one-game under .500, but the following year began a 15- year run of winning seasons under Arena. In that time, Virginia appeared in 15 consecutive NCAA tournaments, won the NCAA title five times (including four consecutive from 1991-1994), and dominated the Atlantic Coast Conference by winning the conference regular season and tournament titles numerous times. For his efforts, Arena was the recipient of numerous accolades, including seven ACC Coach of the Year honors and the 1993 National Coach of the Year award.
Arena's previous soccer coaching experience came as head coach of the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash., in 1976, and as an assistant at Cornell in 1973. Until he relinquished his duties in 1985 to focus entirely on soccer, Arena was also an assistant men's lacrosse coach at UVa. Arena was an All-American in lacrosse at Cornell University, where he graduated in 1973. He earned All-American honors in both soccer and lacrosse while attending Nassau Community College from 1969 to 1971.
His experience also extends to the playing field, where he competed professionally in lacrosse with the Montreal Quebecois in 1975. A year later he played professionally for the Tacoma Tides of the American Soccer League. In 1973, Arena earned a cap for the U.S. as a goalkeeper in a 2-0 loss in Israel.