Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Flagging down the Bull

Pat Walsh points out that Bruce Arena doesn't seem as mighty as he once did.

I'll be honest, that's why even back in early 2006, I was hoping he'd coach a club somewhere, though not necessarily even in MLS. Arena had gotten comfortable with the U.S. national team, leading them out against a lot of undermatched squads, frankly. If he ever lost, he tended to blame MLS, the players, everything but himself.

At the World Cup, when he admitted "blame" for the team's loss and performance, he did so in his trademark sarcastic manner that actually expressed the opposite of taking any responsibility.

I don't think Arena's a bad coach at all, but I do think he started to buy into an overinflated sense of his own importance. A club job, I thought, would reveal the substance of his skill.

I'm not in New York, so I'm curious as to what grade fans or those closer to the situation would grade him.
From my outside perspective, I'd venture a B-. Signing Reyna as a DP for a million dollars? Trading Todd Dunivant? What the heck was up with Wattereaus? Positives would include signing Juan Pablo Angel (who he is apparently pissing off now, though), and Dane Richards.


EdTheRed said...

Another positive would be the continued development of Altidore.

Negative: that defense. Ugh.

dave said...

I live in jersey, and I am a member of the ESC, ny's supporter group. I haven't missed a game this season, and I am highly disappointed with Bruce Arena. Although he has done extremely well to bring in Juan Pablo Angel, he has made ridiculous moves that seem based more on personal preference than on actual skill or ability. Claudio Reyna hasn't been as bad as some make him out to be, but that said, he was never expected to have the ability to make the difference in games and dictate our results. He is just ask mediocre-good as expected, and doesn't deserve half the pay he is getting. Bruce Arena seems content to continue on Metro's history of mediocrity and falling lower than expectations, despite having all of Red Bull's cash to splash. Id give him a C but theres no reason for him to be earning anything less than a B+

Anonymous said...

I always believed Arena was a good coach that liked to pad his record by playing against team he knew the US could beat. I believe he comes from the school that winning breeds more winning, which is probably one of the reasons he was so critical of the US playing Copa America this summer.

I remember he made a comment on how he didn't believe losing against good teams helped players' confidence. While I can agree that winning a lot can instill confidence, it can also instill a false sense of security, which is exactly what happened in Germany. It also doesn't make the team better.

Anonymous said...

I do recall Arenas saying that while he expected to make the playoffs this year, there was still a lot of work to do with the team and the big surge would likely come next year. That was before Angel, but not many people expected much of the Red Bulls tihs year until they played so well during the spring and started surprising folks. Look at most of theRed Bullblogs around that time and expectations were pretty low. The enthusiasm was very cautious after those early wins and then Angel went on his goal scoring streak and everyone surged with him. Now they are back to reality in New York.

I think that you and Walsh do point to one of the critical turns of the season. Arenas was perhaps to quick to dump Wynne and Dunivant. They had their flaws on the defensive side, but the chemistry was good with Richards and Vandenbergh on the wings and the offense flowed nicely with those four pushing up the sidelines and Angel and Altidore sitting in the middle for the crosses (with Mathis sitting back behind the 18 to pick up anything that trickled out and slam it home). Reyna was effective in feeding those flanks and Kovalenko was effecting in destroying counter-attacks given the soft middle of the defense, but with injuries and trades, a lot of that chemistry was lost and RBNY have floundered ever since...Maybe Arenas tinkered too much.

briguy said...

He gets a "B" from me.

He's made some good moves (Altidore to the midfield, subbing Wolinieck at opportune moments, JPA trade, etc.), but I've been simultaneously mystified by his inabilityto manage our defense.

Ultimately, coaches get paid to win the big games, so I'll reserve the right to upgrade my assessment after the playoffs, in the hopes that he gets us to an MLS cup match...

siva said...

Arena has been as good or as bad as Frank Yallop in stitching a team together out of mediocre players. Over the years, Reyna has become more of an organizer who, paraphrasing the words of Landon Donovan, settles a game down and helps to dictate the tempo of game. He is not a goal-scorer, he is not even the provider of the final pass that he used to be many years ago. Arena brought him in precisely for what he can offer the team, a lot of which are intangibles that the average fan doesn't see. It was no luck or coincidence that Angel came to NY and has done as well as he has -- Arena deserves a lot of credit for that.

Another round of draft picks, trades, etc., and RBNY should be just fine.

I do find his habit of shifting the blame to players rather annoying; the other annoying thing is his reliance on his coterie of trusted older players, and not developing enough younger talent. (Bradley has been doing a tremendous job of that with the Nats, but he, like Arena, is too conservative in his game plan, and relies too much on the counterattack.)

Jonathan Geissler said...

I'm with Dave on this one. C.

He has made quite a few questionable personnel decisions (most of them noted here already). He also doesn't seem to be much of a motivator, and a player from the Red Bulls mentioned to a fan that some of his teamates "don't like playing for Bruce, but they have to because it's their job."

Braden said...

I would wait until after the second leg to judge Arena's performance. He lost a lot of key players to injury this year. If they do well against New England, New York could become the team to beat. "Could"

Anonymous said...

As a coach I think he rates a B. Rating the move of Altidore to the midfield as a plus is absurd. Clearly Altidore is the 2nd best striker on the squad. Having HIM change positions when he works well in tandem with JPA seems an odd choice. If it HAD to be done because there was nobody else to move and Doe HAD to play... well he has nobody to blame but himself and his questionable trades. On the other hand, the Van denbergh move to left back has worked pretty well.

As a GM I'd give him a D. COmplaining about defensive struggles all year long when you trade away one of the best left backs in the league is ludicrous. One would have to think Todd Dunivant at lb, Dave at LM and Jozy up front would be more ideal than what is being done right now.

As good as the JPA signing has been... Wattereus and Reyna have been spotty at best.