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And then there was the time Bruce Arena played for the United States

Jan 3, 2013, 5:45 PM EDT

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Bruce Arena has been a lot of things during his time in American soccer. He was head coach of the United States at the 1996 Summer Olympics, led the Americans to a quarterfinal appearance at the 2002 FIFA World Cup, and a terrible showing at the the 2006 FIFA World Cup. He served as head coach of New York Red Bulls, D.C. United, and the Los Angeles Galaxy in Major League Soccer, winning four MLS Cups. He won five national championships while guiding the University of Virginia

But you might not know that the former goalkeeper earned one cap with the United States national team in 1973. We didn’t either until this piece showed up on USSoccer.com.

Arena went on a trip with the Stars and Stripes to Israel, coming on in the second half of a 2-0 loss to Israel. The future coach did not give up a goal. How many goalkeepers can say that?

He tells Tom Dunmore the details:

When we checked into the hotel in Bersheeba, where we were playing Israel, none of the workers were there because they were out to war. We got in late at night and there wasn’t anything to eat. They may have brought us a plate of tomatoes and celery but we had a couple of bottles of scotch. Our preparation for that game was sitting in the hotel lobby and drinking scotch. I don’t know whether U.S. Soccer is making progress or going backwards from those days (he says laughing) but that was our preparation for that game and that’s when I got my first cap, against Israel. It was a good experience.

There’s also this great anecdote:

Curiously enough, Arena wasn’t the only American player to earn his single international cap that day. The coach himself, 42-year-old English-born Gordon Bradley, also played in his one and only game for the American team against Israel alongside Arena. With the U.S. team struggling for starters due to injuries, Bradley — who was also a player-coach for the Cosmos — played the whole game as the team’s sweeper.

  1. soccerstoriesbook - Jan 5, 2013 at 10:06 PM

    Arena playing for the U.S. came as news to you? Good grief. Read my book, “Soccer Stories: Anecdotes, Oddities, Lore and Amazing Feats,” and my blog, http://soccerstoriesbook/wordpress.com/

    Oh, and for the record, Arena came on for starter Bob Rigby–the guy who didn’t start playing soccer until he was a teen–in that game in Beersheba, which the U.S. lost, 2-0.

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