• Bruce Arena steps down as USA head coach
  • Decision comes days after Stars and Stripes failed to reach Russia 2018
  • Arena: "Greatest privilege for any coach to manage their country"

Bruce Arena has stepped down from his role as USA head coach, the United States Soccer Federation has confirmed. Arena’s decision to resign as national team manager comes after the country failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™.

A 2-1 defeat away to Trinidad & Tobago on Tuesday, combined with Panama and Honduras recording victories over Costa Rica and Mexico respectively, meant the Stars and Stripes finished fifth in CONCACAF’s Hexagonal standings.

It is the first time USA have failed to qualify for the World Cup since Mexico 1986.

“It is the greatest privilege for any coach to manage their country’s national team, and as I leave that role today, I am honoured and grateful to have had that opportunity twice in my career,” said Arena, who coached USA at Korea/Japan 2002 and Germany 2006 during his first stint as national team manager.

“When I took the job last November, I knew there was a great challenge ahead, probably more than most people could appreciate. Everyone involved in the program gave everything they had for the last 11 months and, in the end, we came up short. No excuses. We didn’t get the job done, and I accept responsibility.”

Arena was appointed USA coach in November 2016 after the departure of Jurgen Klinsmann. The former LA Galaxy boss led the Stars and Stripes to the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup title in July after his side defeated Jamaica in the final.

In his first stint as national team manager, Arena took USA to the quarter-finals of the 2002 World Cup, the group stages of Germany 2006, and two FIFA Confederations Cups.

He added: “While this is a difficult time, I maintain a fierce belief that we are heading in the right direction. I believe in the American player and the American coach, and with our combined efforts, the future remains bright.

“I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I can say this from the bottom of my heart: from the high of reaching the quarter-finals of the 2002 World Cup to the low of a few days ago; I have appreciated every minute of being a part of this programme.”