USMNT

The Michael Holley Podcast: Bruce Arena on why he nearly turned down Revolution job

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The Michael Holley Podcast: Bruce Arena on why he nearly turned down Revolution job

Bruce Arena led the New England Revolution to their first playoff appearance since 2015 after taking over a team that had the worst record in MLS when he was hired in May. 

That turnaround under Arena nearly didn't happen because, as the former US men's national team and veteran MLS coach told Michael Holley on the latest edition of The Michael Holley Podcast, he was initially reluctant to take the job.

"Believe it or not, I wasn't going to take the job here," Arena told Holley. "The Krafts just convinced me. To me, it was an interesting project, it was a unique opportunity. 

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"I said, 'The New England Revolution? What have they done lately? Are they really committed to winning? I said [to team owners Robert and Jonathan Kraft], 'If you're committed to winning, I'm willing to listen. I listened a little bit but didn't listen that well...They kept coming back and over a couple of days I was persuaded to come here."

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Arena said the Krafts' commitment to the Revs that convinced him to come to New England has him hopeful for sustained success here. 

"I've had a lot of situations where I had teams near the top and they're demanding to win championships right away. I thought this would be a great challenge to build a team toward a championship," Arena said. "The Krafts have been great for me. They're building a great training facility. We're eventually going to have a [soccer-only] stadium in the city [of Boston]. They convinced me that they were going to support this team and we were going to make it happen in Boston."

Arena said the key to the turnaround last season was building confidence in his players and the playoff appearance has raised the stakes for this season. 

"Certainly, we had to get confidence back in the players. I felt in a short period of time, I thought the talent level was better than most people thought...I think we're putting together a good team, both on and off the field. We're going to turn up the expectations this year and try and be a better team than what we were last year."

And bout that stadium, Arena said, "I think it's going to happen during my tenure. I'm that confident about it. My wife and I are going to be moving to a condominium in the seaport. So, I'm hopeful that one day, I'm going to say, maybe I'll kiss my wife goodbye and I'm going to travel real quickly to the stadium for our match...I know it's a personal goal for Robert and Jonathan Kraft and they're working real hard to get that done." 

"I think in the near future we can get some news about the potential for a stadium here."

Arena also touches on his friendship with Patriots receiver Julian Edelman and ex-Pats receiver Danny Amendola, his New York roots and fandom of a certain baseball team to the south being put the test, the changing impact of MLS and soccer in the US, his passion for coaching and more in this edition of the podcast, presented by Night Shift Brewing.

 

New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner added to USMNT

New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner added to USMNT

New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner was called in to the U.S. Men's National Team on Thursday.

Turner will join the USMNT for pre-camp and is one of 20 MLS players on the roster.

The 25-year-old is 16-14-16 with 170 saves and 10 shutouts since joining the Revs in 2016. He signed a multi-year contract extension with New England on Aug. 21, 2019.

Turner finished the 2019 regular season ranked in the top five among goalkeepers various categories, including save percentage (74.8, fourth), winning percentage (.639, fifth), and saves per 90 minutes (4.54, second).

This is the first international call-up of Turner's career.

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Jurgen Klinsmann fired as coach of United States soccer team

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Jurgen Klinsmann fired as coach of United States soccer team

NEW YORK - Jurgen Klinsmann was fired as coach of the U.S. soccer team Monday, six days after a 4-0 loss at Costa Rica dropped the Americans to 0-2 in the final round of World Cup qualifying.

Los Angeles Galaxy coach Bruce Arena is the favorite to succeed Klinsmann, and his hiring could be announced as early as Tuesday. Arena coached the national team from 1998 to 2006.

Qualifying resumes when the U.S. hosts Honduras on March 24 and plays four days later at Panama.

"While we remain confident that we have quality players to help us advance to Russia 2018, the form and growth of the team up to this point left us convinced that we need to go in a different direction," U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati said in a statement. "With the next qualifying match in late March, we have several months to refocus the group and determine the best way forward to ensure a successful journey to qualify for our eighth consecutive World Cup."

A former German star forward who has lived mostly in Southern California since retiring as a player in 1998, Klinsmann replaced Bob Bradley in July 2011 and led the team to the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup title and the second round of the 2014 World Cup, where the Americans lost to Belgium in extra time.

The USSF announced in December 2013 a four-year contract extension through 2018, but the successful World Cup was followed by poor performances. The U.S. was knocked out by Jamaica in last year's Gold Cup semifinals and lost to Mexico in a playoff for a Confederations Cup berth. The team rebounded to reach this year's Copa America semifinals before losing to Argentina 4-0. But this month Mexico beat the Americans 2-1 at Columbus, Ohio, in the first home qualifying loss for the U.S. since 2001.

And last week, the Americans were routed in Costa Rica, their largest margin of defeat in qualifying since 1980. They dropped to 0-2 for the first time in the hexagonal, as the final round of World Cup qualifying in North and Central America and the Caribbean is known.

While there is time to recover, given the top three teams qualify for the 2018 tournament in Russia and the fourth-place finisher advances to a playoff against Asia's No. 5 team, players seemed confused by Klinsmann's tactics, such as a 3-4-1-2 formation used at the start against the Mexicans.

"Today we made the difficult decision of parting ways with Jurgen Klinsmann," Gulati said. "There were considerable achievements along the way ... but there were also lesser publicized efforts behind the scenes. He challenged everyone in the U.S. Soccer community to think about things in new ways, and thanks to his efforts we have grown as an organization and expect there will be benefits from his work for years to come."

The U.S. had not changed coaches in the middle of qualifying since the USSF made the position a full-time job and hired Bob Gansler in 1989 to replace Lothar Osiander, who also at the time was a waiter at a San Francisco restaurant.

Klinsmann made controversial decisions, such as dropping Landon Donovan from the 2014 World Cup roster while taking along relatively inexperienced players such as John Brooks, Julian Green and DeAndre Yedlin. Brooks and Green were among five German-Americans on the 23-man U.S. World Cup roster, which drew criticism from some in the American soccer community.

He coached the team to a 55-27-16 record, including a U.S.-record 12-game winning streak and victories in exhibitions at Italy, Germany and the Netherlands. He has worked in the past year to integrate more young players into the lineup, such as teen midfield sensation Christian Pulisic, Bobby Wood and Jordan Morris.

Arena, a 65-year-old wisecracking Brooklynite known for blunt talk, was inducted into the U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2010. He coached the University of Virginia from 1978-95, then coached D.C. United to titles in Major League Soccer's first two seasons before losing in the 1998 final. As U.S. coach, he led the Americans to the 2002 World Cup quarterfinals in the team's best finish since 1930.

He was let go after the team's first-round elimination in 2006. Gulati unsuccessfully courted Klinsmann, who won the 1990 World Cup with West Germany and the 1996 European Championship with Germany, then coached his nation to the 2006 World Cup semifinals.

When Gulati and Klinsmann couldn't reach an agreement, the USSF hired Bradley, who coached the team to the second round of the 2010 World Cup. A year later, the Americans stumbled in the Gold Cup, and Klinsmann replaced Bradley.

Arena coached the New York Red Bulls of MLS from July 2006 to November 2007, then was hired the following August by the Galaxy. He led the team to MLS titles in 2011, '12 and '14.