What's next for Bruce Arena?
CARSON, Calif. -- John Harkes believes Bruce Arena should be the United States men’s national team’s next coach, and he is not alone. The LA Galaxy boss has been the most successful U.S. coach, winning 71 games, reaching the World Cup quarterfinals, winning two CONCACAF Gold Cups and dominating the series with Mexico during an eight-year tenure that closed following the 2006 World Cup.
Whether U.S. Soccer would be interested in bringing him back -- and whether he'd accept the post if offered -- is another matter altogether, and it doesn't appear that Jurgen Klinsmann is heading off anytime soon. Arena, who has been LA's head coach and general manager since August 2008, might prefer retirement.
His Galaxy contract expires at season's end, although everybody around the club expects to see him in charge again next year.
“We came together in '08 and inherited a different LA Galaxy, and I feel, obviously, a part of that, too, in terms of changing the culture,” associate head coach Dave Sarachan told FourFourTwo USA. “From '08 to now, we've delivered. ... I think the proof's in the pudding.
“Do I think he'll be back? Yes, I do. He's not quite [at retirement] yet.”
Arena is 125-70-79 in MLS and 163-92-89 in all competitive matches in eight-plus years with LA, which is home Wednesday against Real Salt Lake in MLS' knockout round of the playoffs. He has won three MLS Cup titles and two Supporters' Shields with the Galaxy.
Sarachan, a former Chicago Fire head coach who also has assisted Arena at the University of Virginia, with D.C. United and with the national team, was asked whether he thought Arena would return in 2017.
“I think he will be back,” he said.
Arena was queried Friday following LA's training session at StubHub Center about his plans and the status of any contract-extension negotiations that might be ongoing.
“I've never discussed my contracts publicly and generally don't deviate from that a whole lot,” he said. “I think there are more important things in the world than my contract.”
I think at this point, where he is in his career, I think he would be an absolutely fantastic national team coach. Without a doubt...Like a Carlo Ancellotti, one of those types who could really be a manager, really take it on full-time.
Sarachan said Arena would surely give up the game one day.
“Yeah, I can see him retiring, but I don't see him just sitting around or playing golf five or six days a week,” Sarachan said. “The thing about Bruce is he loves a challenge, and whenever he's in a place where he feels that challenge has sort of waned, he's ready for the next challenge.
“Eventually, we're all going to retire. Unlike maybe other managers, I see where Bruce would have enough of the field stuff, but I don't see him sitting around. I think there's something else for him. I can't tell you what that would be.”
Harkes, the FC Cincinnati coach who played for Arena at Virginia, with D.C. United and with the national team and was on his coaching staff with the New York Red Bulls nearly a decade ago, thinks he should return to the international game.
“I think at this point, where he is in his career, I think he would be an absolutely fantastic national team coach. Without a doubt,” Harkes told FourFourTwo USA. “With everything he has learned in the game and his approach now, his demeanor, where his life is, I think he would be absolutely fantastic. Like a Carlo Ancellotti, one of those types who could really be a manager, really take it on full-time.
“I think he would do a great job.”
Scott French is a reporter for FourFourTwo. Follow him on Twitter @ScottJFrench.