A decade after taking over a struggling Galaxy team and leading it to three MLS Cups in four seasons, Bruce Arena assumed another rebuilding project Tuesday when he was named sporting director and coach of the New England Revolution.
Arena, 67, will immediately assume responsibilities as New England’s sporting director. The Revolution's current technical staff will continue handling the day-to-day coaching duties and a start date for Arena’s duties as the club’s eighth head coach will be announced later.
Brad Friedel was fired as the team’s coach last week after leading New England to a 12-21-13 record in parts of two seasons. Mike Burns was relieved of his duties as general manager Monday after eight years in the job. He played for the team in its first 4 1/2 seasons in MLS.
Arena coached both Friedel, a goalkeeper, and Burns, a defender, in the 1998 World Cup in France.
“I believe there is a tremendous opportunity for me to create a winning culture throughout the Revolution organization,” said Arena, who stepped down from his last job with the national team in October 2017 after failing to qualify for the World Cup. “Boston is a great sports town with a history of championship teams, and I am looking forward to working with the staff and players to make the Revolution a club that our supporters can be proud of and that can be part of the tradition of success in New England.”
The Revolution (3-8-2) is last in the Eastern Conference standings with a league-worst goal differential of -17.
The Galaxy was in the middle of their third straight losing season in 2008 when the team fired coach Ruud Gullit and general manager Alexi Lalas and gave both jobs to Arena. A year later the Galaxy made it to the MLS Cup, beginning a run of eight consecutive playoff appearances.
Arena left after the 2016 season to return to the national team and the Galaxy haven’t been back to the postseason since.
“Bruce is one of the most successful coaches in American soccer history and we feel his commitment to excellence, track record of winning championships in Major League Soccer, as well as his success at the international level, makes him the best person to bring the Revolution back to MLS Cup contention," owner Robert Kraft said. "We have known Bruce dating back to the advent of MLS, and we have full confidence that he will raise the level of our club to the standard we all expect and demand.”
Arena won a record five MLS titles, three Supporters’ Shields, seven conference championships, a U.S. Open Cup and a CONCACAF Champions Cup with D.C. United and the Galaxy. He is the second-winningest coach in league history behind Sigi Schmid.
He also coached more games with the national team than anyone in history and his 81-32-35 record is the best ever. He led the U.S. to two World Cups, reaching the quarterfinals in 2002, the team’s best performance of the modern era. Before that he won five NCAA titles with the University of Virginia.
“It was evident when talking with Bruce that we share a vision for the future of the Revolution and we look forward to having him oversee our soccer organization,” Revolution President Brian Bilello said. “We believe that now is the time for a change in leadership and there is no one better suited to usher in a new era of success in New England.”