U.S. men’s national soccer coach resigns after failing to qualify for World Cup

CHICAGO — Bruce Arena has resigned as coach of the U.S. men’s soccer team after the side’s embarrassing failure to qualify for the World Cup in Russia next year.

“It is the greatest privilege for any coach to manage their country’s National Team, and as I leave that role today, I am honored and grateful to have had that opportunity twice in my career,” Arena said in a statement.

The U.S. lost to Trinidad and Tobago, 2-1, on Tuesday, thereby ensuring the team wouldn’t be competing in a World Cup for the first time since 1986.

The U.S. started the 2018 qualifying campaign on rocky footing, with a 2-1 loss to Mexico and getting blown out by Costa Rica, 4-0.

That led to the firing of then-coach Jurgen Klinsmann. In came Arena, who previously led the U.S. from 1998 to 2006, with the American guiding the U.S. to the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup.

The failure to qualify for the World Cup in Russia has led to much soul searching about the structure of U.S. Soccer, but Arena said he maintained “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,” he said.

“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 quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup to the low of a few days ago; I have appreciated every minute of being a part of this program.”