Bruce Arena resigns from U.S. national team

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The former Galaxy coach left his U.S. role after the national team failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1986

Bruce Arena has resigned as the coach of the United States national team.

U.S. Soccer released a statement from Arena on Friday, just three days after a 2-1 loss in Trinidad & Tobago eliminated the U.S. team from World Cup contention. The Stars and Stripes had qualified for the past seven World Cups prior to the worst night in the history of the U.S. program.

"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," Arena said in a statement.

"When I took the job last November, I knew there was a great challenge ahead, probably more than most people could appreciate. Everyone involved in the program gave everything they hadfor the last 11 months, and in the end we came up short. No excuses. We didn’t get the job done, and I accept responsibility."

The 66-year-old, who previously coached the U.S. from 1998 to 2006, took over following the firing of Jurgen Klinsmann in November. He led the U.S. to a 10-2-6 record in his second stint, winning the Gold Cup title in July, but oversaw a side that collapsed late in qualifying while failing to secure a World Cup berth for the first time since 1986.

U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati has yet to name a replacement.

Arena had drawn scrutiny for his lineup choices against Trinidad & Tobago, as he eschewed the heavy rotation he used in past qualifiers and chose the same starting XI that recorded a 4-0 win over Panama on Friday in Orlando, Florida.

Arena defended his decision by pointing to the fact that the Soca Warriors made minimal adjustments after their own match Friday, a 3-1 loss in Mexico.

"You can say I could've played this guy, that guy, and then you'd come back the next day if we had lost and said, 'Why did you make those changes and play those guys?'" Arena told the Washington Post.

"The job we have doesn't allow us to be the Monday morning quarterback. [T&T] played almost the same team that played against Mexico on Friday, so there’s no difference. So that's all a bunch of baloney. It has nothing to do with formations or not making changes. We didn't get the job done."

Arena quote gfx

Arena also chose not to call in some of the key players from the Klinsmann era. He left out many of the national team's European-based players, opting to feature an MLS-heavy side for the final two World Cup qualifiers.

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Stoke City defender Geoff Cameron was benched in favor of Omar Gonzalez, while Arena kept his entire German-American contigent at home. Borussia Moenchengladbach starter Fabian Johnson was the main absence, with Timmy Chandler and Danny Williams also being left out.

The future of the U.S. program is now completely up in the air. Gulati is up for re-election, but fans, former players and media are calling for changes at the very top to right the ship. 

And Arena's departure is a start, with Tab Ramos expected to take over coaching duties as the search for a long-term replacement begins.

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