From his role as the U.S. Men’s National Team coach to his ongoing success in Major League Soccer, Bruce Arena has created a winning environment and influence.
Arena is the 2015 recipient of the Werner Fricker Builder Award, and naturally he has impacted a number of players, teams and organizations along the way.
Among those to provide their perspective on Arena were former MNT players Gregg Berhalter, Ben Olsen, Kasey Keller and Josh Wolff, former Virginia defender and longtime coach and assistant Curt Onalfo, and former U.S. MNT assistant coach Dave Sarachan.
On Arena’s Coaching Style and Strengths:
- Ben Olsen: “I think he was a different type of coach to different players, and I think that’s what made him the best coach that I’ve ever been around. He knew what each individual needed to be at its best. He certainly knew how to pull at my strings and get the most out of me. He understood the pulse of a team; he understood that it was easier to complicate the game than make it simple. His ability to relay what he wanted out of each individual and simplify that is one of his greatest strengths.”
- Kasey Keller: “Bruce was kind of what you call a player’s coach. He gave us a lot of freedom when we were in camp, but I think the players appreciated that. You would come in, have the opportunity after training to have a lot of personal time. You’d have dinners on your own, and at the same time, the guys really responded to that. I think that’s why Bruce was really able to achieve results and maybe surprise some people.”
- Josh Wolff: “He was able to able to find what worked for each player: How he delivered those messages, managing the players, but also educating and coaching. His ability to do that over the course of time has been tremendous.”
- Gregg Berhalter: “You always want to perform for Bruce. He demands excellence and he’s a guy that wants to win and he drives his players in a positive way to be successful and want success.”
On Building Teams and Success:
- Dave Sarachan: “Everywhere Bruce has been, he’s won. He’s succeeded and taken those programs to another level, and specifically with U.S. Soccer. Back in the day when he was involved in the Olympic Team and carrying through with the National Team, it’s been a process of improvement from year to year and advancement, and obviously, culminating when we were together in 2002, in Japan and Korea in going through the great run that U.S. Soccer and our team did then. He’s set the bar for managers from here on end to create a culture of winning and development where he brings teams and players along to a level that coaches haven’t.”
- Curt Onalfo: “I’ve known Bruce since I was 17 years old and I remember being a junior in college, and I wrote him a letter and I was telling him how impressed I was with how each year he built on his foundation. Bruce always gets better at what he does. He self-reflects and looks back at what he’s done and he tries to make it better because he’s a perfectionist, and he’s got a great work ethic and he’s very intelligent. When you have all of those qualities, you’re building something – building a foundation to get better and better. He builds things and you can see it.”
On Receiving the Werner Fricker Award:
- Dave Sarachan: “I couldn’t think of a more deserving recipient to the Werner Fricker Builder Award. I think ‘builder’ is a key word in this whole process because when you look back at the body of work that Bruce has had, going back to Virginia and then D.C. United and all the way through the National Team and here in L.A., he’s always been a builder. He’s always built teams and franchises, and to receive this honor, I think it’s a real credit to him for his entire body of work and where he’s built success everywhere he’s been.”
- Curt Onalfo: “At the end of the day, think about what this man has accomplished. There isn’t an individual in my mind, and especially on the coaching side, that has accomplished the things he has done; that has brought every team that he’s been part of to a winning/championship level and helped in the process bring our National Teams to a different level. He was our National Team coach for eight years and did an amazing job to put U.S. Soccer on the map. Then look at his early days at the University of Virginia and winning championships and creating the powerhouse club that he built there, then going to D.C. United and building the dynasty of D.C. United in those years and then the National Team, and now for what has accomplished with the LA Galaxy. This is a man at the top of his profession. He’s shown he’s the best at what he does for two decades. I think this is something that is very, very warranted.”
Arena’s Ongoing Legacy:
- Curt Onalfo: “He’s won championships and built great organizations and does it the right way. He does things with a lot of integrity. I think he believes that he always wants to leave things better than when he took over. In all the situations and institutions he’s been a part of, that’s been the case. He’s going to be remembered as a champion, a winner and a hard worker. He’s a man with a lot of integrity and a great person.”
- Dave Sarachan: “Legacy is an interesting word to define because when you think about coaches, your legacy is success and wins versus losses. But I look at a guy like Bruce and his legacy as just setting the bar very high and continually achieving and pushing programs along to a level that they’ve never reached. I think when people look back at the development of soccer at the pro level here in this country, way past the NASL days, but MLS at the start and where MNT was and where it is, I think his legacy is going to read that he’s brought and developed programs and players to a level very few have.”
- Ben Olsen: “He’s not done yet. His legacy is influencing soccer in this country at so many different levels. Whether it was college, the influential early days and parts of our league, and obviously what he did on the global stage for the United States. It’s been such a pleasure to be a very small part of that. I feel very lucky to have crossed paths with him and I draw on some of the coaching philosophies that he had. I draw on them quite a bit. Congratulations, Bruce on this wonderful award. There is not one out there more deserving of it.”
- Kasey Keller: “His legacy is the most winningest coach in U.S. Soccer history, along not only with what he’s done with MLS, but what he had done with the National Team – it’s unprecedented.”