Bruce Arena has 'no interest' in overseeing another WC cycle right now
U.S. manager Bruce Arena told the Washington Post on Thursday he has "no interest" in overseeing another four-year World Cup cycle following his team's failure to qualify for Russia 2018.
The U.S. finished fifth in CONCACAF's Hexagonal table after losing 2-1 to Trinidad and Tobago on the region's final matchday as both Honduras and Panama moved ahead of the Americans in the standings and left the team on the outside looking in at the World Cup for the first time since 1986.
And Arena, who took over the reins of the national team for the second time in his career last November after U.S. Soccer decided to part ways with Jurgen Klinsmann, said after the shocking failure that he just wants to do what is right going forward.
"Obviously, I have no interest in going on a four-year cycle right now," Arena said. "I'll do whatever is right. That is the approach I am going to take."
The former LA Galaxy manager did bemoan the "bizarre" nature in which Trinidad scored -- an Omar Gonzalez own goal and a Alvin Jones wonder strike.
"Look at the two goals we conceded: How bizarre," Arena said. "Does it get any more bizarre than that? So you are down two goals, you get a goal early in the second half and there's plenty of time to get a second goal. We had our chances. But what can you say?
"Even despite conceding those two bizarre goals, we still positioned ourselves to get out of there with a point. I can't look anywhere else except inside our team."
The manager was questioned after the loss for not changing his team or formation from the one that thrashed Panama 4-0 last Friday, but Arena said he'd have been questioned whatever his formation was if the result was the same.
"It has nothing to do with formations or not making changes. We didn't get the job done. There's no finger-pointing or excuses; it's all on us."
Arena also took a swipe at the officiating during the penultimate qualifier against Panama in which he felt the referees did not call the game fairly, but refused to use that as an excuse for the loss.
"That's CONCACAF," Arena said. "If the officiating is right, probably half of those [Panamanian] guys aren't even playing in that game because of what they did to us on Friday.
"They are punching people, kicking people, throwing elbows. It was ridiculous. But that's CONCACAF. It's all part of the exercise."
One player with a front-row seat to the historic loss was Alejandro Bedoya, the Philadelphia Union midfielder who was in the U.S. team but did not participate in the match.
Two days following the loss, Bedoya shared his candid thoughts about the performance of the team with reporters in Philadelphia.
"For me to be on the bench and not take part of this game in a do-or-die situation, it really sucked," Bedoya said. "There was a lot of emotions: anger, disappointment, disgust. I was pissed I wasn't part of it, obviously, with my competitiveness and being a passionate guy.
"You can say whatever you want -- I'm not the most skillful, not the guy that's going to do stepovers, go one-vs-one. But for me sitting on the bench, watching the guys not really getting stuck in and that I didn't feel that proper energy out on the field -- we were kind of complacent. It was lethargic. We got ourselves in a bad situation and paid the price for it.
"We let our country down, we let our teammates down, we let our families down, and we let ourselves down," Bedoya said. "It's an utter disappointment. The first half was pretty embarrassing."
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