New coach hopes to put U.S. in same Arena as soccer’s best

United States head coach Bruce Arena looks on from the sidelines during a friendly soccer match against Serbia Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017 in San Diego. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

The U.S. men’s soccer team won its first game since the return of coach Bruce Arena.

The Americans beat Jamaica, 1-0, on Friday. Here was the game’s only goal:

Arena took over the team after Jurgen Klinsmann was fired in November. And the new coach did not have all kind things to say about his predecessor in a recent interview with Sports Illustrated.

He said Klinsmann crushed the team’s spirit:

The last four or five years (under Klinsmann), I just didn’t feel a connection to the program. There were too many swings up and down along the way that didn’t show the same culture that was developed after ’98.”

And he wasn’t a big fan of Klinsmann’s playing style:

“Jurgen marketed a concept that never got there — about how good they were going to be and the style of play. We (coaches) don’t have a lot of control over that. If you want us to play like one of the great countries in the world, it’s not likely to happen in the short term.”

FourFourTwo’s Scott French says Arena is a welcome change to the team:

Klinsmann typically kept players on edge, pushed them beyond their comfort zone, and they often didn’t know what to expect from one day to the next. Arena’s approach is more holistic, about instilling confidence, creating a consistent landscape, and empowering his players. It’s part of Arena’s renown for building winning teams.

To get an idea what French is talking about, here’s a training session led by Arena:

What do you think? Is Arena an improvement over Klinsmann? Will he win more games than his predecessor?

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