Dear Coach Arena:
I am a Colorado Rapids fan who spent many years rooting against you as manager of the LA Galaxy, and rejoicing in the demise of the Galaxy’s season last year in the Western Conference semifinals. I was the one cheering the loudest in the last row of Section 121—I know you heard me. (No hard feelings.)
Today, I’m hoping we can bury the hatchet now that you are in your latest role as US Men’s National Team manager. Many of us who love watching our national team play had lost a lot of hope. Losing in 2-1 to Mexico in Columbus and breaking their dos-a-cero curse; followed by 4-0 clock-cleaning at the hands of Costa Rica ended the tenure of your predecessor—and none too soon.
Jurgen Klinsmann was a well-schooled poo-pooer of any player who played in, well, the US. The thought was, if the player wasn’t playing in Europe, then their skills would begin to deteriorate. In the process, a rift developed between the national team coaching staff and the very league that exists in the very nation the national team represents. The perpetuation of soccer in the States being of a lower level was reinforced, and many felt ashamed of MLS. The good players go to Europe, the washed-up European players come to MLS.
Yet, you, Mr. Arena, have provided some hope. In January, you called up 32 MLS players from 15 clubs to camp. In this last round of World Cup Qualifying, you called up 16 MLS players. The last three WCQ results? 6-0 over Honduras, 1-1 draw in Panama, and a 2-0 win in Commerce City against Trinidad and Tobago.
As I write this, you and the USMNT team is heading to Mexico City to play El Tri. If you come out with a result, hope is firmly restored.
We need the USMNT team to give us some hope. Our country is seriously divided,and soccer provides a reprieve. No, soccer will not solve these issues, but for 90 minutes, we can come together and cheer for our team.
So as you look up into the stands and see everyone of all ages and backgrounds wearing red, white, and blue; some dressed as Uncle Sam or the fellow dressed as Teddy Goal-sevelt; know that you’re helping us to come together for a while as Americans all cheering with one voice for those bearing the USMNT shield.
Again, thank you. We’re behind you.
From the South Stands
P.S. By the way, that Pulisic kid is pretty good. You should keep playing him.