Thursday, September 14, 2006

Another Bruce Arena Interview

Sheesh, the NY Times sure seems to think the only soccer coverage it needs is interviews with the Bitter One, Bruce Arena.

Jack Bell sat down with Arena to discuss several issues concerning the Red Bulls, MLS and the US National Team. Other than really reprocessing the same questions over and over in the interview, Arena made some more interesting comments.

- "Q. M.L.S. named you to its new technical committee, but you said when you were still the national team coach that you had yet to attend a meeting. Are you still on that committee?

A. Actually, my first meeting will be a conference call today. On the technical side, I think we need to make decisions how to deal with 13 teams {F.C. Toronto will enter M.L.S. next season}, scheduling, rosters, what have you. Certainly to improve rosters and the product in the league is going to mean more dollars and more quality foreign players in the league."

Very interesting that we had been spoon-fed this committee and how they would have ideas and suggestions that would be presented at the 2006 MLS Cup...yet they had their first meeting with Arena on September 12th?

- "Q. Is a part of that where the national team plays games? You once mentioned that we should play in Alaska, and there’s probably a lot of truth to that.

A. The previous administration before 1998 sold out the national team in a bunch of games for the big payday. I think that’s a critical mistake."

I both agree and disagree with him on this. Playing Mexico in the Rose Bowl in the 1990's was a death sentence. Our guys were really still getting their feet wet with the international game and playing in front of 90,000 Mexican fans didn't help. That said, I feel that we have done the exact opposite now and it is hurting our ability to play in hostile environments. Playing Mexico in Crew Stadium in front of 23,000 US fans is easy to do, as we have shown the last two times we have played them in World Cup Qualifiers there.

What we need is a happy medium on this. Play the Qualifiers in Columbus or Foxborough, where the conditions are our advantage, much like Azteca is theirs. Play our friendlies in "not so friendly" conditions. Playing against Columbia in Miami would be a great match for MLS players, it would expose them to having to deal with a non-USA crowd. Playing Mexico in Houston, as we did several years ago, is a great idea, as it is a pro-Mexico crowd and one that is similar to away matches, which we really do not have anymore, unless they are in Qualifying or the World Cup.

- "Q. How does M.L.S. have to get better and has it gotten better since you were at D.C.?

A. This is one man’s opinion: The league hasn’t gotten better since I was at D.C."

I disagree. The rule changes alone from when he left to now have made the league a better league, getting rid of the shoot-outs, the 10 minute overtime, the clock counting down and all that crap. I would also argue that the play on the field is better. Do we have the Valderama's or the Etcheverry's or the Diaz Arce's or the Cienfuegos or the Campos'. In my opinion, if we had players like them, the league would benefit, but we do have great players, and they are not all from accross the border. Yes we have Christian Gomez, Carlos Ruiz, Jaime Moreno, Amado Guevara (despite his issues) and Youri Djorkaeff (who is leaving after this season), but we also have Donovan, Cooper, Adu, Ching, Dempsey, Twellman; all guys who could have gone toe to toe with the players in the beginning of the league.

- "Q. Is part of that being involved in international club competitions?

A. Yes. I think the concept to play some games against the Mexican league is great. We see through the Concacaf Champions Cup that our teams are not as competitive as they need to be. And we have to grow our clubs to where they are capable of competing for those championships."

I agree here, playing against the Mexican clubs, especially if the winner of that tournament gets a spot in the Copa Libertadores, will drastically increase the skill levels of our players.

- "Q. What about the idea of playing in the South American club competitions?

A. It would be nice, but I think with our resources and small rosters, it’s tough to do. Until we can have a club schedule that duplicates the club schedule around the world, it’s difficult because we end up playing most games in our off-season. To play in competitions in South America, we need to travel the right way. And we don’t have the resources to do that. Red Bulls would like to use our resources to travel. You fly to South America economy, you’re a complete idiot. You don’t have a chance of succeeding. Why get in those competitions if you’re not ready to do the things to give yourself a chance to be successful?"

I agree here as well. I am not sure if MLS is prepared to have the Galaxy or Red Bulls or DC United flying back and forth from the USA to Brasil or Chile every season, on chartered jets. I don't think that the clubs are prepared, fiscally, for that type of expenditure yet. I know that United went to Chile last season, and granted I do not know if they had a chartered jet or not, but the Copa Sudamericana is a knock out tournament, which does not guarantee anymore than 1 away match at a time. The Copa Libertadores has a group stage, one that would require at least 3 away matches, south of the border. Is MLS ready for that yet?

- "Q. Any advice for the future national team coach, whomever it may be?

A. No. They {officials at US Soccer} apparently don’t think that my knowledge is worth anything. But I will always be pulling for the national team. I’m its biggest fan. I think the next coach should be an American. No doubt in my mind about it. This notion that you need a foreign coach, I’ll be very honest, our coaching staff prepared our team as well as it can be prepared. There is no foreign coach that could have done it any better. I know Sunil likes those quick-fix fancy type of things, but there’s not a foreign coach that will do any better than an American coach, or what I did."

Ah, The Bitter One has arrived. I understand why he is saying that a foreign coach is not needed, but I do think that a foreign coach would be the only one who would be able to come into the fold and actually challenge the US players. The mainstays of the side would have to prove all over again that they should be starters, (talking to you Landon). With a US coach, especially the ones being mentioned, they strike me as ones who would include guys on past merit, rather than on current performance.

All in all, nothing really new from Bruce. He is looking forward to the foundations of a strong club in New York, which the league truely needs. He does seem to be a little bitter about the USSF and its coaching search, but then again, who can reall blame a guy who is brought into a meeting about his job with a press conference already scheduled before hand about the new search.

I think he will do well with RBNY, but only after his type of system and foundation is in place. While he is still forced to play with someone elses players, he will still have the same problems he inherited.


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10:25 AM  
Blogger The Manly Ferry said...

Have you read the mea culpa yet? It's a creepy, creepy thing.

I've already lavished this one with analogies, but another just occurred to me: going through Grant Wahl, as Arena did last night, that's just so high school - as in, "Tell Cassie I'm sorry, OK." [girl hug.]

2:45 PM  

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