If the United States Men’s National Team ever reaches its untapped potential, Bruce Arena won’t be around to see it happen. On Friday morning, Arena formally announced his resignation as the head coach of the squad while releasing an official statement regarding the matter.
“It is the greatest privilege for any coach to manage their country’s National Team, and as I leave that role today I am honored and grateful to have had that opportunity twice in my career,” he wrote.
His decision comes in wake of the United States failing to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1986. The Americans lost 2-1 to lowly Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday evening in a game they had to register a point to keep qualifying hopes alive.
Arena was rehired as National Team coach last November after previously leading the squad from 1998 to 2006. He led his team to a quarterfinal appearance at the World Cup in 2002, the United States’ best finish in history of the event. Earlier this week, Arena made it clear he would cooperate with U.S. Soccer officials to decide the best way forward for he and the National Team.
“Obviously, I have no interest in going on a four-year cycle right now [to the 2022 World Cup],” he told the Washington Post’s Steven Goff. “I’ll do whatever is right. That is the approach I am going to take.”
Realistically, there was never any way that the 66-year-old Arena would continue coaching the USMNT after Tuesday’s loss. Failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup counts as the single biggest disappointment in U.S. Soccer history, and signaled a clear need for a change in program leadership and overall direction.