USMNT’s Bruce Arena was not the central problem behind the USMNT’s catastrophic 2018 World Cup campaign, but he was never the solution.
Arena walked into a mess left by Jurgen Klinsmann, who failed to capitalize on his early success in the job and his tactics had became increasingly frantic as a result. By his final game, a humiliating 4-0 loss to Costa Rica, he was a man flailing in a desperate search for answers. Gone was any whiff of the kind of cohesion or stability you’d expect from a man five years into the job.
There’s no question it was time for the U.S. to move on from Klinsmann, but make no mistake: Klinsmann was an ambitious move in the right direction. As the USMNT began to take a foothold on soccer’s world stage, Klinsmann represented the U.S.’s embrace of next-level tactical ideas. There wasn’t a suitable candidate on home soil, so they went abroad to find them; a common move in world soccer, and the right one at the time.
With four months before its next World Cup qualifier following Klinsmann’s dismissal, they had plenty of time to get it right. Marcelo Bielsa was a name immediately linked with the post. Had they bided its time and…