On November 22, 2016, Bruce Arena returned for his second go round as the United States Men’s National Team head coach. It’s a good, stable hire after the past five years of up and down growth under Jurgen Klinsmann. He’s not particularly a controversial choice. In this second turn, he’ll bring even more experience, championship ambition, and refined skills as he deals with an assortment of players with egos, talents, and abilities. That’s what I like.
And I like that Arena knows that sometimes it is less about individual talent and fitting the right people in the right places. How many times did he go out and get a pre-retirement veteran at league minimum and get a hell of a season out of him? Sometimes, that’s what the USMNT needs more than anything else - consistency.
This article is not about making the case that Bruce Arena was a bad choice. I want to make the case that the US Men’s National Team could have been a lot more unconventional here, going with someone outside of the box who truly could propel the national program forward to even loftier heights.
Here’s my five imaginative picks.
If you don’t like the Patriots, you are not going to like this suggestion, but when all is said and done in his long career, Belichick will go down as one of the great NFL coaches of all time with a sizable trophy case and mystique. He's often terse and rude to reporters. He has bizarre taste in the political arena. But he can find diamond in the rough type talent, plug them into a system, and decimate opponents. Sure, a good quarterback makes things a bit easier, but maybe that’s what Bill would help the USMNT find - our playmaker and our system.
Of course, there’s also that whole thing about cheating... but whatever.
The Colorado Rapids head coach is rising up the charts, recently claiming Goal USA’s USA Head Coach of the Year award over undeserving competitors like Oscar Pareja. While his team did crash out of the MLS Cup Playoffs to the pathetic Seattle Sounders and choked away the Supporter’s Shield at the end of the season and brutally exited the US Open Cup to a hungry (but poorly coached) FC Dallas side, Pablo is ready to take his coaching talents to the next level.
(Pablo, if you're reading this, you are the best dressed coach in MLS. Love ya, man! And I realize this joke is not so good now that Oscar Pareja won the MLS Coach of the Year vote due to an exorbitant amount of player support.)
Look, I’m going with imaginative picks here. If you want to fire up a team with pure champion spirit, I’d suggest hiring actor Danny McBride to reprise his role as human train wreck/baseball legend/motivational speaker, Kenny Powers. Sure, you aren’t actually getting a head coach in any form, but you are potentially getting a comedic actor playing one hell of a motivational speaker. This unlikely move will show our USMNT players what they can aspire to with the right attitude and desire to embrace life in all of its fullness. Plus, press conferences will be delightful.
FC Dallas’ beloved former manager was robbed by not at least getting an interview for the head coaching role. Sure, he doesn’t exactly bring the sheer imagination you might want tactics wise, but he is a cunning, efficient man of action and boldness. He offers the ability to help prayers withstand enormous amounts of pain to their body, and he encourages the kind of ruthless defensive-minded play that will insure offensive players are given more opportunity to play defense than anything else, important to a growing youngster’s career options. At least give him an interview?
I know that famous actors probably do not make good head coaches, but if you want a guy who would look imposing on the sidelines and yet carry himself with dignity and grace, you can’t do worse than Idris Elba. This is sort of a nice political move here. You get the camera friendly figure head as head coach who can wave his hands around and talk about stuff, and then you put the calculating schemer as his backup who secretly (or not so secretly) pulls all the tactical strings. Why the hell not?
And yes, this is meant to be a bit of a joke. ;-)