Bruce Arena on expectations of US men's national team winning the 2026 World Cup: "That's stupid talk"

Bruce Arena – New England Revolution – pregame

If there's one thing we've learned about Bruce Arena over the years, it's that he's never shied away from giving an honest opinion.

The New England Revolution coach was true to that form as he stopped by the latest episode of Extratime to discuss, among other topics, the current state of the US men's national team and the expectations surrounding the future of the program. Arena, of course, did two separate stints coaching the USMNT, first from 1998-2006 and again in 2016-2017. 

Asked by host Andrew Wiebe what the reasonable expectations should be for the next two World Cup cycles, the second of which will come with the US as one of the host nations along with Mexico and Canada, Arena said anyone talking about a USMNT victory by 2026 would probably be wise to slow their roll. But Arena also didn't shoot down the increased optimism that has recently bubbled up around the program as the talent in the player pool has steadily increased.

"That's stupid talk. You're talking about winning a World Cup now?" Arena said. "We didn't qualify [in 2018] and now we're going to win the World Cup?

"I do think the way the sport has grown in our country, the young players we have that when we play at home in 2026 -- and hopefully we have a good draw and all that -- that the US will have a very competitive team in 2026," he added. "The goal in the short term should be to qualify for the next World Cup."

Arena also talked over some of his additional thoughts on the USMNT, including his impressions of head coach Gregg Berhalter, who is currently guiding the program ahead of the start of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The two know each other well dating back to Berhalter's playing days, when he suited up for both the LA Galaxy and the US when Arena was the coach. 

"I saw that he was very serious and focused and asked a lot of questions. He continues to probe," Arena said of Berhalter. "Gregg continued to be a student of the game. He still doesn't have that much experience, so he's still trying to grasp who he is a coach, I think. From what I see at a distance, he's still influenced by a lot of stuff he got in coaching school, but he's going to work his tail off. He has a really high opinion on the value of sports performance metrics, analytics, all of that. So I think that's the direction he goes as a coach now."

For the full interview with Arena and the Extratime crew, check out the full episode here.