Eric Wynalda is fond of using the classic line, “Players win games, coaches lose them.” Last night, Bruce Arena did not do anything special to change the USMNT from the squad that lost their first two qualifiers in the final round and got off to the worst start in modern history. All he did was put players in a position to be successful, gave them confidence, and let them play. Sometimes, it really is that simple.
A national team coach’s job is not to develop players, it is not to take players out of their comfort zone, it is simply to get results. That’s really all there is to it. Club managers develop talent and look at the long term trajectory for a player. National team managers should be focused on getting the best out of the talent they have at their disposal. They don’t have enough time with the players to do anything else.
Bruce Arena, according to most players who have played for him, is a master at making his squad feel comfortable and motivated. The end of his pregame speech before the USMNT defeated Portugal in the 2002 World Cup is a classic:
The message of “first foul, first shot, first goal” is very simple and very effective. It pushes his team to be proactive rather than reactive. Something some managers have talked a lot about, but rarely showed.
Is everything okay now for the USMNT? No, there are still hurdles to overcome for this group as they make up for lost time in November. Mexico and Costa Rica have pulled away just a bit from the pack, which leaves four teams battling for one automatic qualification spot and one playoff spot. Every game is critical, starting with Tuesday’s trip to Panama City.
In case you missed it last night, the USMNT got back on track in the Hex in a big way, thrashing Honduras 6-0 (Stars and Stripes FC)
Last night’s win helped USMNT fans get over the disappointment from the end of the Klinsmann era (FourFourTwo)
Bruce is back (MLS)
New York Red Bulls try to keep their home streak alive without their captain (NY Post)
Scott Sutter getting comfortable with Orlando City (Orlando Sentinel)
RSL still trying to upgrade on the wing (Salt Lake Tribune)
Mexico moves into the top spot in the Hex after defeating Costa Rica at the Azteca (FMF State of Mind)