- Position: Builder, Class of 2010
University of Virginia (1978-1995)
D.C. United (1996-1998)
U.S. Men’s National Team (1998-2006)
New York Red Bulls (2007-2008)
Los Angeles Galaxy (2009-current)
Responsible for the meteoric rise of U.S. Men’s Soccer following a disappointing 1998 FIFA World Cup, Bruce Arena’s tenure at the helm of the Men’s National Team was the most successful stint in U.S. Soccer history. Under him, the U.S. achieved their best modern era finish at the FIFA World Cup, reaching the quarterfinals in 2002 before losing a controversial game to world-power Germany. The U.S. reached its highest FIFA ranking of 4th in April of 2006 under Arena, astonishing pundits and fans after being ranked as low as 31st shortly after taking the reins. He led the U.S. to two CONCACAF Gold Cup titles in 2002 and 2005, as well as first place in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. That campaign was one of the best home-defenses of qualifying history, as the U.S. not only went undefeated in five home games during the final round of qualifying, they didn’t even give up a single goal. During his eight years as head coach, Arena compiled a record of 71-30-29, earning a .658 winning percentage.
Domestically, Arena earned the chance to coach the U.S. with a legendary coaching career at the University of Virginia before leading D.C. United to all sorts of hardware in the first years of MLS play. In 18 seasons at the University of Virginia (seven of which he was also an assistant men’s lacrosse coach), Arena won five national championships, including a dynastic four in a row from 1991-1994 on his way to an overall 295-51-31 record that effectively built the Cavaliers’ program. While there, Arena coached many future U.S. stars such as Claudio Reyna, John Harkes, Jeff Agoos and Tony Meola—planting the seeds of a stronger national team years before he could have imagined leading them on the international stage.
Arena left Virginia to take the head coaching position at newly-created D.C. United in the inaugural MLS season in 1996. Charged with creating a team from scratch, Arena drafted well and put together a championship caliber team in their first year (while also coaching the U.S. Under-23 National Team through the 1996 Olympic games). Along with the MLS Cup, the 1996 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title earned D.C. the “Double” for the year, cementing the club in U.S. Soccer history. D.C. United went on to repeat its MLS Cup win in 1997, earning Arena MLS Coach of the Year honors. A third-straight appearance in the 1998 MLS Cup defied all expectations in a league predicated on parity, but D.C. United finally fell—knocked off their perch by the expansion Chicago Fire led by Bob Bradley, his former assistant at Virginia and D.C. United, as well as the Under-23 National Team and current U.S. National Team head coach. After the U.S. went three and out in France ’98, Arena was offered the chance to coach the United States’ best, and American soccer was soon to cement its place on the worldwide stage.