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L.A. Galaxy’s Bruce Arena: He’s a pretty good coach, too

Dec 2, 2012, 1:05 PM EDT

Bruce Arena

CARSON, Calif. – One thing may have gotten lost over the last few MLS Cup days, buried beneath the excited chatter over David Beckham’s future and Landon Donovan’s career mid-life crisis, and stuck behind the stacks of accolades going Dominic Kinnear’s way:

Bruce Arena is a pretty darn good coach, too.

We knew that, of course. And perhaps that’s another reason it was a story angle that got elbowed aside by more evocative subplots around MLS Cup 2012.

Last night the L.A. Galaxy joined D.C. United as the only MLS club with four titles. What is the one common denominator there? It’s Arena, who presided over the first two trophies that found their way to RFK Stadium in the nation’s capital.

Now his four MLS Cup trophies are twice as many as anyone else.

Arena’s influence on a team that just defended the MLS Cup title has hardly been lost on the man of the moment, David Beckham.

He offered Arena much of the credit for bringing stability to an organization that really had lost its way in some areas; the club was seriously all over the place in Beckham’s first two years. Beckham admitted they were not happy years.

Indeed, Frank Yallop, Beckham’s first coach here, is a highly respected figure. But perhaps Yallop wasn’t the right man for this rather unique job – dealing with the Beckham tsunami – because he’s just too nice a fellow, a guy who just wasn’t good at putting his foot down with players or upper management.

Then came the lost and unhelpful Ruud Gullit months; the Dutchman never had his heart in it, so that was a failed bit at the Home Depot Center from the start.

Then came Arena, who had the chops to say what needed to be said and had the experience to understand what kind of personnel would work in MLS.

“He’s a great man-manager,” Beckham said two days before the final. “He’s strong and harsh when he needs to be, but he also puts his arm around you and has a joke when you need that. I owe a lot to Bruce and his staff.”

  1. Dan Haug - Dec 2, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    Great post!
    One of the things that gets lost among all the stars in LA is that the organization is solid from top to bottom:
    – Although the Galaxy were star-struck when Becks first showed up, Tim Leiweke finally stepped in and retook control after Becks demand to be sold to Milan, and the Ruud Gullit debacle. His leadership is what allowed the Galaxy to bring in Arena. In addition, this has allowed Arena to assemble a great staff, from Sarachan to Klien to Kirovsky… he’s got a bunch a quality coaches and trainers that buy into the system.
    – Not only has a Arena done a great job with his personnel… he’s built a club that, over the last four years, has maintained the appropriate mix of young talent and veteran leadership. Yeah… he’s had Becks and Donovan (and more recently Keane), but he’s also built the team through the draft and through the academy. The galaxy reserve team won the reserve league this year, and has a number of promising players coming up.
    – If you look at the win yesterday you saw how the ENTIRE team has bought into the system. From Donovan, Becks, and Keane through to guys like Mikey Stephens, everyone on the team takes personal responsibility. Not just for doing their own jobs, but for covering for their teamates when they screw up.
    – Lastly, the team knows how to focus on winning. They play beautiful soccer at times, but they do a great job of adjusting their play to the specific situation that they find themselves in. They can dominate a team, or they can sit back and counter-attack. They can be patient, and they can push. Last year you saw them win a championship as the top seed… this year they did it scraping the bottom. I think this, more than anything else, demonstrates the depth and cohesiveness of the organization.

  2. mkbryant3 - Dec 2, 2012 at 3:52 PM

    I wonder if Arena still has ambitions of coaching in Europe. I’m sure he’s got a pretty sweet life in LA, but you have to think that Beckham’s endorsement could dissolve some barriers that may have got in Arena’s way before.

  3. slimjim774 - Dec 2, 2012 at 4:00 PM

    Ha! Tell me he’s good coach again after re-watching the 2006 World Cup.

    • joeyt360 - Dec 3, 2012 at 5:04 PM

      You can play that game with EVERY coach.

      I was at the 2006 World Cup. I saw the US play Italy in Kaiserslautern. Then I saw Australia and their “genius” coach Guus Hiddink play against the same team in the same stadium. Arena’s USA did better.

      • joeyt360 - Dec 3, 2012 at 5:05 PM

        I should add. . . the USA were better a man down than Australia were a man up.

  4. mkbryant3 - Dec 2, 2012 at 4:17 PM

    Ok, slimjim, he’s a good coach. Great coach. Who to better handle big egos than a coach with a huge one as well?

  5. mkbryant3 - Dec 2, 2012 at 4:21 PM

    (Granted, I did just watch the 06 WC in super fast forward)

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