Tag: world cup football

Arena, Bradley, Klinsmann, and Sarachan – a Brief Coaching Portrait

Bruce Arena made his second stop as coach of the USMNT during the 2018 World Cup qualification campaign.

 Arena has been known as a good organizer and communicator. The players have always seemed to know their place on his teams in a good way. With few exceptions, he preferred a large and bigger players with a strong presence on the field. The interesting thing about Arena is that he has always done very well in domestic competitions. That is, when all the teams are playing the same style (essentially getting the ball down the line and into the box*)( A simplification, though, people within the American soccer community, including Alexi Lalas, have pointed out that Arena is not the biggest Xs and Os coach around), his teams have usually come out ahead. However, his approach—including lineup choices and style of play—has met a tough audience outside of CONCACAF in the 2002 and 2006 World Cups, where the style of play was a bit different. Leading up to those campaigns, winning was something Arena was used to.

 As a player, Arena was a goalie (and even played one game with the US national team), and then as coach of Virginia University he won four consecutive NCAA national titles. As coach in the MLS, he’s won five MLS Cups (two with DC United and three with LA Galaxy). He first coached the USMNT from 1998-2006 after replacing Steve Sampson, wherein Arena led the charge in the 2002 and 2006 World Cups, along with a few Gold Cup titles.

 Following the 2006 World Cup, Bob Bradley took over and coached during the 2010 World Cup. Bradley was replaced by Jurgen Klinsmann, who coached during the 2014 World Cup, and he was in turn replaced by Bruce Arena. For his second run at coaching the USMNT, Arena inherited a team in flux.

 Jurgen Klinsmann had coached the team to mixed results, albeit a winning record. By the time Klinsmann and the USMNT lost 4-0 to Costa Rica (in 2016), Sunil Gulati—the US Soccer president cleaned house, rehiring Arena. All of this was smack in the middle of World Cup qualifications.

 With some bad luck, the USMNT met a tough opponent in their final World Cup qualification game, losing to Trinidad and Tobago in October of 2017. For the first time since 1986, the US would not qualify for the World Cup.

 Following the loss, Arena resigned as coach. The interim coach who took his place was the experienced Dave Sarachan, a former player and coach at Cornell University, who also played and coached professionally, who also happened to be a longtime associate of Arena.

 The next US coach, whoever that may be, has a fresh group of talent to lead the team into World Cup 2022.

Mexico Football Team: A Brief Team History

 In 1930, Mexico was knocked out of the first ever World Cup in the group phase. In 1934, they didn’t qualify. They didn’t participate in 1938. For World Cups 1950, 1954, 1958, 1962, and 1966, Mexico was eliminated in the group stage. By 1970, as hosts, they improved, making it to the quarterfinals where they lost to Italy. In 1974, they didn’t qualify; in 1978, they were eliminated in the group stage; and for 1982, they again didn’t qualify.

 As hosts, yet again, in 1986, their luck in the world’s largest tournament was going to improve. They were recovering from a major earthquake prior to the tournament, and, as it turned out, the World Cup was a great motivational force to get the nation back on its feet again. Led by Hugo Sanchez, one of their most notorious forwards, Mexico played very well, leading their group which consisted of Paraguay, Belgium, and Iraq.

 They drew a massive audience. Their opener—a 2-1 victory over Belgium—was held in the Estadio Azteca Stadium in front of an estimated 110,000 people, and the crowd chanted, “Mexico…Mexico!” Then, in front of over 114,000 people, they defeated Bulgaria in the second round. But, upon reaching the quarterfinals, they switched venues from Mexico City to Monterrey and lost to West Germany in front of approximately 41,000 spectators. Mexico didn’t compete in 1990.

 Then came the second-round blues. For World Cups 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, and 2014, they were eliminated in the round of 16. Based on this record, it may seem as though Mexico will take many years to win the World Cup. They are certainly hoping to raise the trophy sooner, and Russia 2018 represents a perfect opportunity.

 CONCACAF COMPETITIONS

Within the realm of CONCACAF, Mexico has a rich tradition of winning. They’ve won multiple championships in the CONCACAF Championship (held from 1963-1989) and the Gold Cup (1991 to the present), including in 1965, 1971, 1977, 1993, 1996, 1998, 2003, 2009, 2011 and 2015.

 As of 2017, Mexico placed fourth in the Confederations Cup in Russia.