Bruce Arena, the Head Coach of the LA Galaxy, which is part of Major League Soccer, is arguably the most successful coach in men’s American soccer history. Andrew Llewellen unpacks the key to his success, laying the majority of the credit on his ability to manage players:
“Everyone involved with the Galaxy — coaches and players alike — credit Arena’s success to his uncanny ability to manage players.
“Bruce’s man management is very good. He’s very good with the players. He’s strict when he needs to be, and then he’s good at putting an arm around a player that needs it,” said Beckham. According to Arena, motivating players is as important as setting them up, tactically. “Everybody knows how to draw up a play, how to run a practice. That’s the easiest thing you could possibly do. The biggest key is get to know [the players], and get them to know you. Try to create an honest working relationship. If you can develop a good working relationship, then you can deal with the highs and lows that come your way.”
In addition, he recognizes the pivotal moments in the season, who to motivate and how:
“One of those lows came this season in May. The Galaxy were 3-9-3, hanging around the bottom of the conference. Then the team had a two-week break.
“During that break,” said Donovan, “I think he went player to player and let people know what the expectations were. Bruce and I had lunch, and I think for the first time I realized the urgency. He made it very clear that the team was gonna go as a few of us went. If we could change it around, the whole team could.”
Finally, a roster is like a puzzle. The pieces need to fit well together. Arena masterfully blends young and old, role player and superstar.
“He knows how to build a squad,” said Keane. “He knows what players are suited for this team. He’s obviously got a wealth of experience in the U.S., so he knows every player.”
Of course he also has the resources of AEG behind him. But so did the coaches before him.