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Why the Galaxy nailed it with Bruce Arena’s contract extension

Feb 6, 2014, 10:34 PM EDT

Bruce Arena, coach of the Los Angeles Ga

Even after Tim Leiweke, architect of the big doings around LA Galaxy Valley, left the premises, the good decisions kept coming.

Landon Donovan was re-signed. That was a good call.

Omar Gonzalez was kept happy with a DP deal. Another good call, even if it meant the champs of MLS in 2011 and 2012 couldn’t import the next wow-wow boy for awhile (because he was No. 3 on the DP list, along with Donovan and Robbie Keane).

And now we get word that Bruce Arena will be aboard for a few years to come. Honestly, they guy has earned the right to stay around as long as he wants.

At 62, he remains as competitive as the day he walked into RFK Stadium as D.C. United’s manager in Major League Soccer’s inaugural 1996 season. Stand in front of the man and ask questions after a Galaxy loss and you’ll know. (And you had better be prepared to ask a thoughtful question; Arena at his best will put up with faux-reporters just looking for sound bites, or he might exercise some patience with a young journo … but Bruce Arena after a loss is not Bruce Arena at his best!)

He’s also consistently, reliably among the best managers in Major League Soccer.

He won at D.C. United. Yes, he had a leg up in personnel as management at United managed to game the system in the permissive days that even Arena as called the “Wild West.” But, heck, New York had the same leg up … and the MetroStars managed to stink up the joint year after year, proving that you can’t just buy up talent, roll ‘em a ball and expect it to all come together magically. You still need a shepherd tending the flock.

Speaking of New York: Arena was doing fine there, too, helping to make sense of the circus that franchise had always been. But management got impatient (because, you know, New York had always been tops around MLS) and ran Arena out after just more than a year, still with two years on his contract.

Arena certainly turned the Galaxy into a winner. Yes, Donovan and David Beckham was a good place to start. But wise assignment of role players around them was just as essential.

Not all of Arena’s personnel moves have paid off, but hits hits-to-misses ratio tilts wildly in the right direction. No word on how long the deal announced today keeps Arena around. If it’s three, four or five years, that’s fine.

He’ll be winning games for as long as he wants to be around.

  1. dfstell - Feb 7, 2014 at 6:13 AM

    Plus…..there is no salary cap on coaches and managers. It’s one of the few places a richer franchise can flex their muscles.

    That’s especially true of you subscribe to the theory that very few managers make much difference. I haven’t read a statistical analysis of MLS coaches, but I’m sure Arena fits the bill.

    Makes me wonder how much longer TFC will keep their coach? All the other financially successful teams in MLS have nailed down someone good and proven.

    • Sgc - Feb 8, 2014 at 11:46 AM

      Very good points. I have always said that I consider about 90% of managers to be about 90% interchangeable. When you’ve got a guy from the other 10%, and you’ve got the money, you want to hold on to him.

  2. midtec2005 - Feb 7, 2014 at 9:46 AM

    I remember pre-Arena Galaxy and the Galaxy in his first year… night and day difference. American coaches don’t get a whole lot of respect, but if there’s anyone in MLS that deserves it, it’s Bruce Arena.

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