Arena eyeing Gold Cup history
SANTA CLARA, California (AP):
Bruce Arena can become the first coach to win three CONCACAF Gold Cup titles if the Americans can beat surprising Jamaica tomorrow night. The US won under Arena in 2002 and '05.
"I came in with Bruce in January and I think initially you saw someone who's trying to get points across and be pretty serious about it, but as we realised his demands and his intentions he's been able to kind of dial it back a little bit," midfielder Graham Zusi said. "Very dry, good sense of humor. It's important, especially in these long camps, to have some kind of comic relief as well."
On Monday, Arena reminded his players it was here in the Bay Area where the Americans regained momentum in March by beating Honduras 6-0 in a World Cup qualifer.
Arena, a member of the US Soccer Hall of Fame who turns 66 in September, has led the team to an 8-0-5 record since he returned in November for a second stint as coach, replacing Jurgen Klinsmann after the Americans' first 0-2 start in the final round of qualifying in the North and Central American and Caribbean region.
"Four months ago we were rebuilding our programme, a programme that was in desperate shape of being in a position to qualify for a World Cup and all other things," Arena said. "We've made great strides over the last four months. This is a great opportunity for us to continue to make progress. We'd love to win the Cup."
Nine different players
The US are seeking their sixth Gold Cup title and first since 2013. Nine different players have scored so far this tournament, most notably Clint Dempsey's record-tying 57th goal in a 2-0 semi-final win against Costa Rica on Saturday that matched Landon Donovan's mark.
"Coming into the situation, into the job, we were in a tough spot," Dempsey said.
Under Arena, the Americans have momentum again regardless how tomorrow turns out. Qualifying resumes with matches against Costa Rica on September 1 at Harrison, New Jersey, and four days later at Honduras. The hex concludes against Panama on October 6 in Orlando, Florida, and at Trinidad and Tobago four days after.
"It's a good group of guys, let's start there," veteran goalkeeper Tim Howard said. "But Bruce has kind of come in and kind of took the edge off a little bit. That's who he is as a person, that's how he manages us, and he's kind of allowed us to be ourselves and have that swagger.