When Jurgen Klinnsman was sacked as manager of the United States Men’s National Soccer Team (USMNT) and replaced with Bruce Arena, who managed the side from 1998 to 2006. Many reasons were given for the German’s dismissal. One of the most prominent reasons, aside from a shoddy start to 2018 World Cup qualifying, was how he chose his eleven starting players; favoring constant experimentation rather than sticking with the same lot of players, regardless of whether the results were brilliant or poor. Now there is a rumor that for tonight’s game against Martinique, Arena may take a leaf out of his predecessor’s book and start different players against
There is a rumor that for tonight’s game against Martinique, Arena may take a leaf out of his predecessor’s book and start different players against Martinique (a team ranked 85th according to Elo which takes margin of victory, the importance of the match, and whether a team was home or away into account).
The problem with that approach is that Arena did not bring his best players into this tournament, notably Christian Pulisic, the 18-year-old phenom who plays for Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga. By choosing to experiment, Arena is indicating one of two things:
The first is the possibility that Arena does not care about winning the Gold Cup. This possibility is tempered by Arena’s public statements, which have emphasized a belief that he can advance with his self-limited squad. If you are trying to win, why in the world would you limit your own talent pool like that?
The second would be that Arena is convinced he has the right group to implement tactics that should allow the USMNT (which for reference is ranked 29 by Elo) to scrape by, which is an embarrassingly low bar. Parking the bus (the derogatory nickname for playing defensive football in order to either draw or win narrowly) is not a strategy that is going to consistently beat any world-ranked teams and if Arena is planning on approaching this like the 1-1 Mexico draw in June, then the U.S. will not, and should not, win the Gold Cup or anything else under his second reign.