FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Coaching three different MLS sides and the US men’s national team, Bruce Arena has made plenty of fond memories in Foxborough, Mass.
Asked about his favorite during his introductory press conference on Thursday as sporting director and head coach of the New England Revolution, Arena said it’s winning the inaugural MLS Cup in 1996 with D.C. United. It came at the old Foxboro Stadium in a driving rainstorm, and is still at the top of his list.
“It was an incredible day for the sport in the country,” Arena said.
Arena, who has won a record five MLS Cup as a coach, knows it will not be easy to create a championship contender with a club that hasn't made the playoffs since 2015. However, he feels up for the challenge.
“I've been to seven MLS Cup finals, won five, so I have a feel for that, and I think I can bring it here in this organization as well,” he said.
Arena is looking forward to getting to know the players, though he will not coach the team before the June 2 match at his former club, LA Galaxy. The status of interim coach Mike Lapper has also not been resolved yet.
“I have plenty experience in doing this but whenever you're on the outside, you really don't know until you get inside a team, so I'll be able to evaluate the roster obviously a lot better as I get on the field with them,” said Arena.
Arena’s last job was overseeing the USMNT and its failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. Still, he looks back upon that time fondly.
“I was actually proud of the job I did in 2017,” Arena said. “We had a great group of players and they worked real hard and we fell short. That's life.”
Arena added that he is “as disappointed as anybody in that failure” but it doesn't define his legacy, which he feels is secure. At 67, he didn’t have to come back, but he still loves coaching and soccer too much to walk away.
“I love the challenge and building the game in this country,” Arena said. “It's something I've done for 40 years and it's not easy to walk away from. It's something that's very important to me, so that's why I'm here today.”
Center mid Scott Caldwell said Arena, “brings a great track record and everyone’s excited to learn from him.” Caldwell, a Homegrown Player, added with a smile that the 2014 MLS Cup final loss to Arena’s Galaxy still “stings.”