In my 34 years of life on this planet, you would think my astonishment of idiocy within sports fandom would have been long dismantled. When they are at their best, sports fan can be passionate, knowledgeable and logical. Though at their worst, they can be emotional, fickle, reactionary and at times just plain old dumb. Want a perfect example of this? Take the breaking news from today of Bruce Arena potentially being the next Columbus Crew general manager. There are actually a contingent of Crew fans out there that have the gall and audacity to speak negatively of this potential hire. Clearly, those are the ‘plain old dumb’ ones I referenced previously!
The vocal minority of sport fans never cease to amaze me with their ill informed, uneducated and emphatic opinions. We have all heard it before, whether at a sports bar, a stadium, or even at a gathering with friends watching a sporting event at home. The guy who states the most moronic opinion with such gusto, where all we can do is scratch our heads in bewilderment. Plain and simple, any Crew fans not losing their minds in excitement over this potential move just simply do not get it.
Unfortunately, the manner in which a significant chunk of U.S. Soccer fans overreacted and now dismiss this mans mountain of accomplishments, due to one fateful night in Trinidad is surreal. Did Arena fail as USMNT coach in that game? Of course! He is at fault, as are the players who strolled into that game feeling entitled and guaranteed of a positive result. In the 11th hour of World Cup qualifying, Arena was handed a pile of crap by Jurgen Klinsmann and U.S. Soccer, and was asked to turn it into some sort of gold. U.S. Soccer failed, and Arena will forever unceremoniously go down as the face of that embarrassing failure.
Regardless, he could retire today and his career would truly be legendary. And I don’t use that term haphazardly. I am adamant that within U.S. Soccer circles, it doesn’t get much more legendary than Bruce Arena. Don’t believe me? Here is a snapshot of his coaching accomplishments, spanning from the college ranks to the international level:
University of Virginia
College Cup (5): 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994
ACC Men's Soccer Tournament (6): 1988, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995
MLS Cup (2): 1996, 1997
MLS Supporters' Shield: 1997
MLS Eastern Conference (3): 1996, 1997, 1998
U.S. Open Cup: 1996
CONCACAF Champions' Cup: 1998
Interamerican Cup: 1998
MLS Cup (3): 2011, 2012, 2014
MLS Supporters' Shield (2): 2010, 2011
MLS Western Conference (4): 2009, 2011, 2012, 2014
MLS Coach of the Year: 1997, 2009, 2011
CONCACAF Gold Cup (3): 2002, 2005, 2017
World Cup Quarterfinal 2002
Most USMNT wins
Highest winning percentage in USMNT history
Yes, those are accomplishments as a head coach, not a general manager. I get that 100%, but Bruce was also the GM for LA Galaxy. Yes, the Galaxy do have gobs of finances and resources to build a championship caliber roster, I understand that completely. But he is a proven winner and someone who understands how to navigate the murky personnel waters of Major League Soccer.
When the news first leaked on Monday afternoon that a GM with “strong ties to MLS and U.S. Soccer” was being considered, naturally my initial thought was Bruce Arena. I was being just as facetious as I was serious. Not thinking that a man as accomplished and with the clout of Bruce Arena would be interested in taking charge of the Columbus Crew. His accomplishments are wide-ranging and a mile deep. One blip, no matter how mammoth, should take away from that. Columbus Crew fans should be ecstatic at the possibility of Arena in this role. With much emphasis and gusto, I say, bring on The Bruce!