Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Arena Steps Down as Coach; USSF President Stays On

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Arena Steps Down as Coach; USSF President Stays On

Article excerpt

NEW YORK * Bruce Arena resigned as U.S. men's national team coach Friday, three days after the Americans failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1986.

The U.S. Soccer Federation said within 10 days it will announce an interim coach for planned exhibition games next month.

"There's no point in me being around," Arena said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "I'm not going to be around for the next cycle. The only thing I regret, obviously, is not having a cycle with the team, because you need more time than 10 months with a team. But I knew that in advance of it, so I'm responsible for it."

USSF President Sunil Gulati, speaking during a telephone news conference, said he did not plan to resign. He said it was not the right time to talk about whether he will seek a fourth four-year term during the federation's annual meeting from Feb. 8-11, but did say in recent weeks he had sent letters to people seeking to be nominated.

"This is a big shock to the system. We understand that. We understand how much frustration, anger, disappointment, hurt there is," he said.

Gulati said the federation held a board meeting Thursday night and will seek "outside expertise" as it evaluates what went wrong.

"We'll look at everything, from our player development programs to our coaching to our refereeing to our facilities to the pay-to-play model to the role of education and universities," he said. "Where we need to make major changes, we'll do that. Where we need to make incremental changes, we'll do that. We'll take our time with that and unfortunately we have the luxury of time before we have competitive games again with the senior team."

A member of the U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame, Arena, 66, coached the U.S. from 1998-2006, including a trip to the 2002 World Cup quarterfinals in 2002, the best American finish since the first tournament in 1930.

He was fired by Gulati after group-stage elimination in 2006, then brought back last November after a 0-2 start in the final round of qualifying in the North and Central American region under Jurgen Klinsmann. The Americans were unbeaten in their first 14 games under Arena, winning their third CONCACAF Gold Cup under him, but they lost a home qualifier to Costa Rica 2-0 last month, putting a berth in danger. …

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