Under-fire Arena addresses USA future: 'I'll do whatever is right'

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The U.S. national team coach has spoken out on a variety of topics following Tuesday's elimination from World Cup qualifying

Under-fire coach Bruce Arena has hinted at his impending exit in the wake of the U.S. national team's elimination from World Cup qualifying, saying he plans to do "whatever is right."

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 has 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.

Although U.S. Soccer has not yet made an announcement about Arena's future following the 2-1 loss in Trinidad & Tobago on Tuesday that eliminated the U.S. team, the coach has confirmed his tenure is winding down.

"Obviously, I have no interest in going on a four-year cycle right now," Arena told The Washington Post. "I'll do whatever is right. That is the approach I am going to take."

The federation has scheduled a conference call with media for Friday morning in which U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati will discuss the failure to qualify for Russia 2018, with Arena's future an inevitable topic.

The former LA Galaxy boss has drawn scrutiny for his lineup choices against T&T, as he eschewed the heavy rotation he used in past qualifiers and chose the same XI that recorded a 4-0 win over Panama on Friday in Orlando, Florida.

Arena defended his decision by pointing to the fact that T&T made minimal adjustments after its 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 said.

"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 also de-emphasized the tactical nuances of the match, bemoaning the fluky nature of T&T's strikes — an early Omar Gonzalez own goal and stunning long-range effort from Alvin Jones.

"Look at the two goals we conceded," Arena said. "Does it get any more bizarre than that? So you are down two goals, you get a goal early in the second half and there's plenty of time to get a second goal. We had our chances."

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Amid calls for systematic reform and the exit of Gulati, Arena defended the longtime U.S. Soccer president while downplaying the federation's role when it comes to shortcomings in player development.

"The criticism on Sunil is unfair," Arena said. "Why is the president of the federation responsible for the result on Tuesday?"

He added: "Why do people think U.S. Soccer is in charge of player development? Players play in clubs. Why is that U.S. Soccer's responsibility? They support the clubs in this country, they support player development, but that's not their responsibility. They are a governing body that runs our national team programs."

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