Sunday, December 7, 2014

Bruce Arena ]$20k[ anerA ecurB

STEVEN GOFF: It’s a forgiving league because you can start slowly and turn it on before the playoffs, right?

BRUCE ARENA: That has often been the case.

STEVEN GOFF: Do you plan to make any significant roster moves before the Sept. 15 deadline?

BRUCE ARENA: No, we are fine. I don’t know what you can do at this point — even though, the way things have been happening [in MLS] lately, God knows what could possibly happen.


A few months back The Washington Post's "Soccer Insider" Steven Goff interviewed Bruce Arena in the wake of New England being awarded, via blind draw, Jermaine Jones. Whether it was timing, luck, or Arena letting off some steam about not getting Sacha Kljestan - Goff caught Arena at his very annoyed Brooklynite best.

Arena would go on to give this infamous quote: “Because they are children and there have to be adults in the process, and we didn’t have enough of them. I think we are back into the old days in the league when the rules are somewhat arbitrary. Hopefully we will get that straightened out in the offseason.”

Arena likely knew that Jermaine Jones is be the proverbial "game-changer" and he wanted something similar out in L.A. with Kljestan. Turns out Jones was a guy that did bring a team back from the dead in New England to go nearly unbeaten in there last 13 games to, as Goff puts it; "..turn it on before the playoffs."

The reason I'm bringing this back up now is because Arena just did another longer form interview with Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl where is tune has curiously changed.

As soon as you follow the link to the piece you are greeted with a grinning ear to ear, slightly past magic hour photograph of Bruce Arena and an opening from Wahl:

CARSON, Calif. — Bruce Arena is bullish on America: On MLS, on the development of young soccer players and on the future of the sport here.

What follows is 4,000 words that might as well have been about the professional looking photo at the top of the page --- A confident, successful man in focus with calming afternoon hues blurred behind him as he is about to play an important match --- is my assessment of both the piece and the photo.

However, the other side of this piece that I see is that of Arena as a post third-largest-fine-in-league-history man.

Don Garber, MLS commissioner, had a busy year. Taking on prostate cancer and navigating the World Cup chief among them - but it was also taking on the two USA National Team coaches in Bruce Arena and Jurgen Klinsmann.

The tool Garber employed in trying to getting Klinsmann in line was a public lashing. The result wasn't all the successful and mostly left Garber with egg on his face. With Arena the punishment was easy, as he is employed by the league and Garber is his superior. Fine him $20,000. Amazing how suddenly attitudes and approach change after that.

Late on in Sports Illustrated's December 4th Arena interview, Grant Wahl asks him about the difference between East and West Coast mentalities that I think explains how a fine can change a man from Brooklyn.

SI.COM: What does an East Coast mentality mean to you?

ARENA: I think you have a work ethic. You’re honest. You say what you think. What I’ve found: Athletes and coaches are confident, arrogant people. That’s why they’re good at what they do. They’re elite people in their profession, so they have confidence. We often run into people that object to things we do and say, because they’ve never been in that environment and they have thin skin, and they can’t deal with criticism and all of that.

SI.COM: What is your life like out here?

ARENA: It’s pretty good. I get to see the Pacific Ocean every day. I have grandchildren living around the corner. I like the weather. I like the culture of L.A. I like basically everything here. It’s a great community. It’s obviously pretty diverse. Just a different way of life.

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