Bruce Arena: Suddenly Stupid or Crazy Like a Fox?


The normally mundane, boring and insight-free Alan Hopkins (where does ESPN come up with these guys?) comes dangerously close to being controversial in this weeks installment of "Kickin' It with Alan Hopkins" (and did ESPN's promotional people burn a bunch of late night oil dreaming that stroke of genius or did they just steal it from a local youth soccer club newsletter?):

Of course he stops short of expressing an opinion, really, but he does do a nice job of summarizing how bone-chillingly awful Bruce Arena has been doing of late.

Arena got a pass on the New York debacle; everyone agreed that he should have taken a little time off after leaving the USMNT and, anyway, NYRB wasn't really THAT terrible and Arena DID leave them with some good draft picks. Sure the Reyna thing was absurd but on the other hand Angel might be the best DP in league history.

Besides, it was New York for Pete's sake, and they've beaten down a lot of coaches over the years. They couldn't all be terrible.

And then he went to LA and inherited the gawdawfulest mess anyone has ever seen. The previous management had, by turns, either stunk the place up (Panayotis Lalas) or just flat-out not given a damn (take a bow, Ruud Gullit) and/or simply been terminally stupid (Hey, Cobi, how's tricks Bud?

They had nothing and nobody blamed Arena one single bit for the last couple months of that embarrassing season. Besides, everybody knew that, given the entire offseason to rebuild the team in his own image, il Bruce would have the Gals hitting on all cylinders come April 2009.

I mean, come on, this is Bruce Arena we're talking about, and say what you will but the guy knows what he's doing. Right?

I said RIGHT? Hello? Is this thing on?

I really don't need to go down the roster and point out who's old, who's talentless, who's on the team primarily because he's cheap and all of that. We all know the drill (and we've been watching most of these guys since Noah landed), no need to belabor it.

Bottom line: this team really, really sucks. Badly.

And it can't make them feel any better when they look up the coast at the guy in Seattle, who would give anything to be living at his house ten minutes from the HDC, finding a guy like Fredy Montero when they're still running Alan Gordon out there, and otherwise coming up with actual soccer players who can move faster than the Malaspina Glacier and who aren't carrying AARP cards.

So the question has to be: what the hell happened?

LA fans are among the more calm and rational in MLS (of course, another explanation is that they're all stoned most of the time) and I have no doubt at all that they would be perfectly content with the team's current record and stats if the guys on the field were bright, young, up-and-comers, working hard to prove themselves under the watchful eye of the past master of developing MLS talent.

Something like that can actually be fun and when they are able to steal the occasional win from an older, more experienced outfit, the fans can happily spend weeks chattering about how it was a "glimpse into the future".

Instead, Arena apparently felt the thing to do was put a veteran team out there, get into the playoffs and - well, I'm not sure what the next part would be.

Now I'm not normally one who races to push the "Fire the Coach" button - except in the case of Toronto FC where John "Fine Me, Please" Carver seems constitutionally incapable of winning, even with a roster which, on paper, looks pretty decent - but it's not just that Arena isn't winning. Rather, it's that he assembled a team that isn't winning and has no upside; most of these guys haven't had a future since 1999.

And Arena has the worst record of any active MLS coach since the day he accepted the LA job. The worst.

There was a lot of speculation that if Tom Soehn can't get something done this year in DC that he'd be tossed overboard and they'd go get Arena back.

So maybe - for you conspiracy fans out there - he intentionally trashed LA so that they'd be more than happy to let him go.

OK fine, then YOU explain it.

We've had a good deal of fun over the months laughing at various Canadian sportswriters, but THIS GUY really seems to be reaching out toward new vistas of stupidity.

With Ottawa apparently poised to enter into serious negotiations with the CFL group today, thus killing off Eugene Melnyk's MLS bid, this soccer-hating clown can't stop himself from doing a Happy Dance on the corpse:

Even for Melnyk in these tough economic times, it might be difficult to justify spending that kind of cash.

I love it when fatass sportswriters with $40,000 a year jobs lecture rich and successful people on economics, particularly ITTET.

There's no appetite for professional soccer in this city. There never has been and there likely never will be.

They said the same thing about Toronto. Seems like that turned out OK. I wonder where he gets this opinion from - did he conduct a public opinion poll or did he just ask the other fatass slobs in the pressbox at a hockey game?

Let's put it this way, people aren't exactly clamouring to get tickets for soccer.

People in Ottawa aren't clamoring for NASCAR tickets either, but if you, you know, scheduled an actual race there maybe ther would be.

And just for informational purposes, are people in Ottawa "clamoring" (I don't use a "u" thanks) for Sens tickets? I mean, aside from lobotomy recovery cases?

"... there are more than 90,000-plus registered soccer players in the region and the game is growing. No wonder the MLS wants to bring an expansion franchise here. Why wouldn't they? Especially if Melnyk is ready to offer up the franchise fee".

Now wait - I thought you just said nobody gave a crap about soccer. And isn't it usually the team owner who, you know, puts up the "franchise fee" as you put it? Who else do you think does it?

My sympathies to the good citizens of Ottawa, Canada. Your sportswriters are obviously as ignorant, ill-informed and dull-witted as ours are.

Portland MLS entrepreneur - at least for the moment - Merritt Paulson FIRED BACK AT THE STORY that I linked to yesterday regarding the financial arrangements for the stadium renovations.

I can't be sure but it seems to contain what it's possible to construe as a threat - ie. that if he moves the Beavers someplace else when their lease on PGE Park expires next year, then the city will REALLY be on the hook.

Without a tenant to pay off the bonds they issued to build the place the city would have no choice but to dip into the public coffers to pay off a vacant white elephant stadium.

Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but honestly I hope not; the politicians are essentially welshing on the deal and in any case the rest of Paulson's argument seems a bit weak.

What IS clear however is that both sides have now elected to fight this out in the media, which usually turns ugly sooner rather than later.