U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Bruce Arena has certainly hit the ground running. Armed with a notebook filled with a player pool and a January camp roster just 30 minutes after putting pen to paper on a contract with U.S. Soccer, the USA’s all-time winningest coach has spent the last 14 days attending several matches here and abroad, and visiting several of the players he’ll be working with in his new role.
On Nov. 27, Arena witnessed the second leg of the M.L.S. Western Conference Final, watching as Jordan Morris led Seattle Sounders FC past Jermaine Jones and Colorado Rapids and into the club’s first M.L.S. Cup Final. Three days later, he was at BMO Field in Toronto taking in the thrilling conclusion of the Eastern Conference Final between Toronto FC and Montreal Impact. Arena watched as Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley led the Reds to a 5-2 extra time victory and the club’s first M.L.S. Cup appearance.
Following the match, Arena headed to Germany to visit a number of MNT members who ply their trade in the Bundesliga. While Arena knows many of the domestic-based players from his time with the LA Galaxy, the goal on his trip to Europe was to get better acquainted with a younger group of players that aren’t quite as familiar with him.
“It was important to spend time with the players for us to get to know each other better and talk about where we are going and what we want this team to be about,” Arena told ussoccer.com. “I was very impressed, both professionally and personally. They want to be a part of this group, and they want the team to be successful. I’m looking forward to working with them.”
On Friday night, he met with defender Timmy Chandler in Frankfurt before attending the next day’s match between Borussia Dortmund and Borussia Monchengladbach. While there, Arena saw both Christian Pulisic and Fabian Johnson enter the match at the same time and got acquainted with the duo following the game.
The next day, Arena attended Darmstadt v. Hamburg, where he saw MNT forward Bobby Wood come off the bench in his return from a three-game suspension. Wood had a couple good moments in his limited time on the field as he helped Hamburg earn a 2-0 victory, their first of the season.
Having met with Wood following the game, Arena ended his trip visiting with MNT center back John Brooks, who put in a 90-minute shift in Hertha Berlin’s 3-2 win at Wolfsburg on Saturday.
Arena returned to his home base in Los Angeles on Monday night to continue preparations towards January camp, but will head back out on the road this weekend to Toronto to see Altidore, Bradley and Morris face off in M.L.S. Cup 2016.