Originally created 07/18/02

Arena prefers to stay as US coach



NEW YORK -- Bruce Arena probably will stay on as U.S. soccer coach after leading the team to its most successful World Cup performance in 72 years.

Arena, speaking Wednesday at a news conference to promote Major League Soccer's All-Star game, was reticent to discuss his future. His current contract, agreed to in October 1998, expires at the end of this year.

"U.S. Soccer has talked to me and, hopefully, we can reach an agreement," Arena said.

The coach's agent, Richard Motzkin, said he had begun talks on a new contract with Dan Flynn, the executive director of the U.S. Soccer Federation. The new deal probably would run through the 2006 World Cup, to be played in Germany.

"It's in the early stages of discussions, and the parties are going try to work things out behind the things," Motzkin said.

Flynn has tried to keep a low profile on the talks. He said through USSF spokesman Jim Moorhouse that "we expect something to get done."

Arena is the winningest coach in U.S. national team history, going 34-18-13. He led Virginia to four NCAA titles in 18 seasons, then won two MLS championships in three seasons as coach of D.C. United.

He hasn't started to think about the start of World Cup qualifying in 2004, or even about next summer's two tournaments: the FIFA Confederations Cup (June 18-29) and the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the championship of North and Central America and the Caribbean (July 12-23).

"I'm not going to be spending a whole lot of time preparing for the next four years if I'm not the coach," he said.

The United States beat Mexico 2-0 in the second round of the World Cup, then was eliminated by Germany 1-0 in the quarterfinals last month. It was the farthest the Americans advanced in the World Cup since they were invited to the first tournament in 1930 and lost to Argentina in the semifinals.

After the tournament, some of the veterans on the team - including captain Claudio Reyna and goalkeeper Brad Friedel - expressed uncertainty over whether they would try to return for another four-year cycle.

Arena said he hasn't spoken with them since players left South Korea on June 22.

MLS was one of the few leagues in the world that played during the World Cup, even though it was missing many stars for up to two months because of the tournament.

MLS commissioner Don Garber said Tuesday it's possible the league would take a break or slow its schedule next summer, when teams could be without players again during the Confederations Cup and the Gold Cup.

Garber said the league was talking to the USSF and CONCACAF - the regional governing body - about creating other international competitions for clubs or national teams during a potential break in the MLS schedule.