CHICAGO (Tuesday, December 17, 2002) - The United States Soccer Federation has agreed to a new contract with U.S. Men’s National Team manager Bruce Arena, who will continue to guide U.S. Soccer’s Men’s National Team Program through 2006.
Arguably the most accomplished coach in American soccer history, Arena’s four-year tenure has seen the Long Island native become the winningest coach in team history, while elevating the United States’ respect on the international stage. His achievements culminated in the USA’s historic quarterfinal finish at the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan.
"In our mind, there was never a question that Bruce Arena was going to be the man to guide our U.S. Men's National Team program in our preparation for the 2006 World Cup," said U.S. Soccer President Dr. S. Robert Contiguglia. "He was the right man for the job when we hired him in 1998, and he is the right man for the job today. Obviously, his success on the field has been well-documented, but perhaps more important than those triumphs is the blue-print for the future development of the American player and the American professional game which he has imbedded into our National Team program. It is my belief that those advancements will be his true legacy with U.S. Soccer."
With a four-year record of 34-18-14, Arena is the team’s all-time leader in victories and winning percentage (.621). In addition, the team won a record 12 games in 2002, including a championship run at the 2002 CONCACAF Gold Cup and a quarterfinal run at the 2002 World Cup that featured victories over Portugal and Mexico.
“I’m happy to have the opportunity to improve upon the progress we have made over the last four years,” said Arena. “We have already begun to focus on the long process of building a team capable of competing to qualify for the 2006 World Cup. I am certainly looking forward to the challenge.”
Under Arena, the U.S. continued to raise the bar in each of his four years. After a strong start in 1999 which included a third-place finish at the FIFA Confederations Cup in Mexico, the U.S. went 9-2-6 in 2000 and outscored their opposition by a team-record 23 goals. The team also set a new American standard for shutouts in a year with nine in 2000. During the last six months of 2000 and through 2001, Arena guided the U.S. to an 8-4-4 record in CONCACAF qualifying for the 2002 World Cup, enabling the United States to advance to their fourth-consecutive World Cup.
Arena, 51, has placed an emphasis on player development during his U.S. tenure, paying particular attention to Major League Soccer. During the 2002 World Cup cycle, Arena saw 92 players take part in at least one training camp under his tutelage, with 70 players earning at least one cap. Illustrating his desire to evaluate as many players as possible, Arena also gave 36 players the chance to earn their first cap during the four-year build up to Korea/Japan. In the team’s first camp after the World Cup (prior to the team’s 2-0 victory over El Salvador on Nov. 17), Arena invited 23 players to train, including seven taking part in their first National Team camp and five who earned their first cap, continuing the trend he began back in 1998.