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Bruce Arena: “Players on the national team should be American.”

Mar 14, 2013, 5:27 PM EDT

Bruce Arena is never one to hold his tongue. And he’ll certainly get plenty of criticism for his latest quote. According to a tweet, he’s quoted in an upcoming issue of ESPN the Magazine saying “Players on the nat’l team should be American. If they’re born in other countries, we aren’t making progress.”

First, this is a single quote — almost certainly one of the more inflammatory ones — from what is undoubtedly a larger story. So take it with a grain of salt. And let’s get beyond any controversy and just ask a question: Does Arena have a point?

I can see the argument he’s making, but I don’t agree. There will always be players around the world who can play for the U.S., who feel a connection to the U.S., but who weren’t born in the US of A. Take Terrence Boyd. Despite being born in Bremen, that dude loves America more than most. He lives and dies to play for the U.S. Are we supposed to exclude him simply because he hails from Germany? I don’t think so.

There is, however, a line where a coach takes it too far. Is Arena’s comment directed at Jurgen Klinsmann, who seems desperate to recruit as many German-Americans as he can? I wonder…

While the former national team manager goes overboard, there’s a bit of truth buried somewhere in Arena’s statement. The rest of the article might bring it back into focus.

Still, it’s pretty easy to throw stones from the comfy seat of the LA Galaxy coach’s couch. Let’s not forget:

  1. sluggo271 - Mar 14, 2013 at 5:48 PM

    Wow!!! Really dumb thing to say. I have a nephew and niece born in Asia and they are every bit as American as Bruce Arena or you and I. I lost so much respect Bruce today. A very, very dumb thing to say.

  2. Dan Haug - Mar 14, 2013 at 6:14 PM

    As you imply in this post, I’ll bet there are a myriad of qualifying statements that came before or after that quote, and when the full thing comes out, it’ll be… “Nothin’ to see here… move along.”

    Of course, the problem is that a good chunk of people who will only remember the teaser. :(

  3. drewvt6 - Mar 14, 2013 at 6:38 PM

    That’s why he’s DaBruce…Bruce is like any other head coach of the national team. He liked to lay out ground rules that he’ll follow as long as they suit him. Remember that whole thing about, you had to be playing for your club team?

    We so easily forget things like the way DC United players (see: Jeff Agoos) received preferential treatment time and again.

    • schmutzdeck - Mar 14, 2013 at 9:00 PM

      Agoos was born in Geneva, Switzerland

      • schmutzdeck - Mar 14, 2013 at 9:03 PM

        By the way, the Galaxy play in California and guess where their last Governor was born?

        This is America and we care about where you want to go not where you came from.

  4. drewvt6 - Mar 14, 2013 at 6:40 PM

    By the way, I think it’s a sign of our growth as a soccer supporting nation that these guys who grew up with German indoctrination think the US team is worth playing for. How many of these kids of American soldiers do you think have been pros over the past 70 years? How many would even consider the US national team worthy of consideration up till Thomas Dooley?

  5. unclemosesgreen - Mar 14, 2013 at 7:24 PM

    Arena’s massive ego and arrogance shows it’s ugly side again. 2006 cost him any legitimate chance to second-guess another USMNT manager, ever. I repeat, ever. Every time I see DaMarcus Beasley I curse your name, Bruce Arena. I curse you.

  6. capsfan19 - Mar 14, 2013 at 7:59 PM

    It certainly is an interesting point. I can see what he means but at the same time even the big powerhouse teams have players born in other countries playing for them, and their ranked WAY higher than us

  7. seanb20124 - Mar 14, 2013 at 8:30 PM

    German born kids only want to play for America because they can’t make the German squad. That goes for every other country as well

  8. mdac1012 - Mar 14, 2013 at 8:56 PM

    Regardless of what qualifying statement followed or preceded that remark, if you become an American through the naturalization process, your an American and should be welcomed on the national team. The most successfull USMNT the 1930 World Cup team that finished 3rd had a number of players that were born in Europe.

  9. bellerophon30 - Mar 14, 2013 at 9:23 PM

    I think one has to differentiate between footballing mercenaries like David Regis and Roy Wegerle in the past, with guys like the current German-Americans, who are actually legit half-Americans. Had Regis ever even been to the US before they rigged his citizenship for the 1998 team? Oh, wasn’t he on the 2002 team too, coached by Bruce? Hmmm.

    Also, where do Stuart Holden and Benny Feilhaber fit in with his “vision” ? They moved to the US as children and act and sound “American”, whatever that really means anymore.

    Hopefully this is much ado about nothing, and he was either misquoted or quoted out of context. If not……..Sheesh.

  10. bwholl - Mar 15, 2013 at 12:26 AM

    I don’t believe he is saying guys like Danny Williams or Timmy Chandler shouldn’t play on the team because they aren’t “Real Americans.” The part where he says we aren’t making progress is the more important takeaway. If even today half our lineup is made up of people who were trained in other countries, then we are doing a poor job training players. I see this as more of a shot at US Player development than at Klinsmann for starting German-Americans

  11. mvktr2 - Mar 15, 2013 at 8:00 AM

    If the IRS sends you a bill or notice that you need to file taxes, as they’ve been doing increasingly to ‘Americans’ whom have never stepped foot into the nation then I say they’re American enough to play!

    To the point that Arenas is hopefully trying to make … perhaps he’s saying that USSF is making progress when it doesn’t have to look beyond it’s borders for players. I guess we’ll know when the article comes out!

  12. geojock - Mar 15, 2013 at 8:51 AM

    All he is saying is that we shouldn’t be trying to turn over every rock looking for someone with some sort of American connection who can play soccer. All coaches have and should be on the lookout for American talent outside our borders, but Klinsman has us looking like some Caribbean island team desperately searching outside our borders.

    How to best balance this? America should not recruit players from outside its borders, it should select them.

    • schmutzdeck - Mar 15, 2013 at 6:33 PM

      The USSF is paying JK a lot of money to put the best team possible on the field.

      With the FIFA rules now being a little different, with JK’s greater overseas contacts and with teams like France ,Germany, Holland and others literally filled with dual national types,
      I’m sure JK sees it as his duty to turn over every rock possible looking for better players.

      Saying that the US should be satisfied with what they have in the lower 48 plus Hawaii and Alaska, strikes me as supremely arrogant.

      • geojock - Mar 18, 2013 at 2:58 PM

        The bulk of what he is talking about is progress. Progress is developing talent. Plus did you read what I said? I didn’t say anything about not taking players from over seas. Let me spell it out for you. I was saying that we should take overseas Americas that truely want to play for America. Not trying to recruit all these guys and have to convince them to come play for us.

  13. whordy - Mar 15, 2013 at 9:14 AM

    I know I’m late, but its also insulting that Arena is even allowed to use the word progress when his tenure, tactics and performance at 2006 did nothing but set up back 10 years.

    • unclemosesgreen - Mar 15, 2013 at 10:15 PM

      thank you

  14. wandmdave - Mar 15, 2013 at 10:16 AM

    If you changed the second sentence in that statement to say, “If they didn’t grow up in the American development system then we aren’t making progress.” Then I see his point. I don’t care and I don’t think he cares where a player was born as long as we are training them to be world class. But if we are relying on other countries to train our most talented players then we are not doing something right. Its poorly stated as is but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that is what he meant.

    • geojock - Mar 18, 2013 at 2:57 PM

      Well said

  15. drewvt6 - Mar 15, 2013 at 2:29 PM

    BTW, one thing DaBruce is forgetting, what about the guys who’ve grown up in our system that go on to other country’s national teams? Think about Andy Najar, Richard Sanchez, etc who used our youth development system as a spring board?

    There are many people who, if ingrained with the priorities of pro soccer have gone on to big things because of the US system. I think the larger short-coming (if you want to call it that) is that we still don’t place a high enough societal value on becoming a professional player.

  16. mikeevergreen - Mar 16, 2013 at 8:29 PM

    Brucie, stay in your own Arena.

  17. korules - Mar 18, 2013 at 4:49 AM

    Luckily Sydney Leroux gives zero f*cks.

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