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Bruce Arena Talks to Fans and Media in Online Chat

U.S. Men's National Team Manager Bruce Arena answered questions from fans and media during's first live online chat of 2004 this past Wednesday (Jan. 14). Read below to find out Arena's thoughts on the upcoming match against Denmark, his plans for the coming year, and the beginning of the qualifying road to World Cup 2006.  

Bruce Arena: Thanks for joining us this morning. We've had an excellent 10 days of camp so far, and are enjoying the new facilities at the Home Depot Center. The players have been working hard to get themselves fit and prepared, and we're excited about getting the year started against Denmark on Sunday.

giffen6: Who are a couple players that have yet to be capped for the senior team that positively impressed you in this camp?
Bruce Arena: For the most part, I think all the players in camp have fared pretty well. We need to keep in mind that this is still the preseason for many players. They are not yet fit and in form. Therefore, it makes my job of evaluation very difficult.

Ferris: Coach -- Many U.S. fans are unfamiliar with the Denmark team. What style of play can we expect from them? Who are players to keep an eye on during the game? Thanks! And enjoy your first game at HDC.
Bruce Arena: Denmark is bringing primarily a domestic team, therefore; their players and the style of play will likely differ from the team we've seen in qualifying. From reviewing their roster, one can anticipate a team that is athletic, tall, dangerous on restarts and crosses in the box from the run of play.

hern: As more national team players get contracts in Europe (Howard, McBride, Bocanegra, maybe Mathis), doesn't your job get harder in terms of organizing training sessions, planning lineups, etc. Do you have mixed feelings when these guys are able to make that step up to the European leagues?
Bruce Arena: I think any time our players have the opportunity to play in more challenging competition, it will only benefit the national team. In terms of my responsibilities, it makes for a difficult logistical situation, in terms of planning national team training camps and developing rosters for friendlies.

rollo: Bruce, I'm a great fan. In particular I have placed the most confindence in you because of your proven ability to always keep learning and improving. What do you think you learned from the qualifying rounds for the last world cup that you will do differently this time?
Bruce Arena: Well, I think there is a lesson to be learned about developing a roster of players that are in their pre-seasons (i.e.) foreign-based players and the players that are in the middle of their seasons (i.e. MLS players). Therefore, in the semifinal round of qualifying, I need to find the right balance and/or make plans for our foreign-based players to be in the right form. Additionally, the experience of playing in Central America will be invaluable for me as I prepare our team for the next competition.

BennyDee19: Obviosuly, you are well known for leaving no stone unturned in your decision process regarding players. When will we see more of a squad that is similar game to game?
Bruce Arena: Given our circumstances, with approximately 12-15 key players playing abroad and domestic players in a league with a fixture schedule that is not coordinated with the rest of the world, one most realize that this only creates rosters that are rarely consistent from one game to the next. That is part of the challenge of managing the U.S. National Team.

BennyDee19: How have the new facilities fit to your needs as a coach at the Home Depot Center?
Bruce Arena: There are obviously three major pluses of having a training facility at the Home Depot Center. First, we have excellent field. Second, we have excellent weather. Third, we have lights. These three elements allow for us to have quality training whenever we choose the HDC as our training site.

cochilindo: can u tell me what drove to decline the invitation to the copa america?
Bruce Arena: The question is actually pretty simple to answer. With the combination of World Cup qualifying, the potential of the Olympics as part of our summer fixtures, and our domestic league operating at full swing, the logistics of participating in Copa America is virtually impossible and not in the best interest of MLS and our players.

TrooperBari: Who, in your mind, are some of the sleepers in CONCACAF qualifying this time around? Could Haiti or Canada make a bigger splash than in years past?
Bruce Arena: Your question is not easy to answer. If there are going to be any sleepers, they will come out of the potential group in the semifinal of Guatemala, Canada, Honduras and Costa Rica. If either Canada or Guatemala survive that round, I would say they would be potential sleepers. Additionally, if Haiti is able to defeat Jamaica, they could also be considered a sleeper.

beejoo: Have you been monitoring the other US teams at the HDC such as the U-17 through the U-23s teams?
Bruce Arena: The U-17's weren't at the HDC, but I did have the opportunity to watch the U-18, U-20, and U-23 teams. With the exception of the U-23's, the other teams are just beginning a new cycle in developing their rosters, and it has been interesting to see the many new faces that are involved in this process. In short, I've been pleased with what I've seen.

AmericanFan: US has 3 excellent goalkeepers: Fridel, Keller and Howard. Since Howard is the young, talented and he has captured England's and the world's attention by joining Man you think he'll likely to start for the US team, instead of the other two?
Bruce Arena: I think the most obvious statement I can make is that we have three outstanding goalkeepers in England. Keller and Friedel are clearly more experienced than Tim at both the club and international level, yet Tim's performances at Manchester United have exceeded everyone's expectations. As I evaluate our goalkeeping, I believe in the short term we are in excellent shape. However, as you look down the road, if we qualify for World Cup 2006 in Germany, Keller and Friedel will be 36 and 35 respectively. Therefore, as we move forward, Tim and our other top keepers in MLS need to continue gain international experience as a safeguard against Mother Nature.

LdBcCbFhDmb: Do you see any plans in having players such as Cobi Jones and Jeff Agoos back in the lineup or, is it heading towards younger players such as Bobby Convey?
Bruce Arena: Certainly our future is with the young players, notably Convey, Donovan and Beasley. However, one cannot rule out the possibility of Cobi Jones, Earnie Stewart, Jeff Agoos and Joe-Max Moore being able to help us in the short term.

TheBigApple: Are you worried that, should the U23s qualify, the Olympics might conflict with your WC qualifying?
Bruce Arena: that possibility does exist. We are attempting to develop alternate plans with CONCACAF. Specifically, seeing if it is possible to play an opening round game of the semifinals of qualifying in July. If this request is accepted, a conflict won't exist.

whip101: Bruce... It is a posibility that you could use Freddy Adu on some easy games?
Bruce Arena: I've never heard of an easy game at this level. Freddy Adu is like any player that would be under consideration for a national team roster. If he demonstrates the potential to be a member of our team, he would be given the opportunity. I think at this point in time, we need him to develop as a professional with D.C. United, and as he progresses he will certainly be given his due consideration for our various national team programs.

PorSuGracia: Compare the present US men's team in the qualifying process now to what it was leading to the 2002 World Cup. How has the coaching, team performance, maturity, etc. grown and progressed? What are areas of growth still needed?
Bruce Arena: I think it's a good question, but it's certainly too early to answer. There's a lot ahead of us, and the only way to compare against the team that qualified for the 2002 World Cup will be to see how the group performs.

Maxim-1: I'm sorry if this has been asked before, but how do you think you're going to handle the WCQ 'minnows' so to speak in terms of bringing in our talent from Europe?
Bruce Arena: We need to enter the game on June 12 with the right attitude and respect for our opponent. Therefore, I will attempt to assemble the best team possible in order to allow us to be successful, and hopefully create a cushion that will take some of the pressure off

BennyDee19: John O'Brien has recently returned to Ajax, finally. How important is he to the success of qualifying and the team as a whole?
Bruce Arena: John O'Brien is an outstanding player. We've rarely had the opportunity to use him in qualifying the last time around. When John is healthy and on the field for the U.S. team, we are a better team. Therefore, he is very important for our team in our aspirations

Bruce Arena: Again, we'd like to thank everyone for their support of U.S. Soccer. 2004 will be a very challenging year for our team. Please be patient as we work to develop a team that will hopefully be successful in the qualifying process. I look forward to seeing many of you at our matches as we begin this journey once again.