United States men's national soccer team manager Bruce Arena officially resigned Friday morning after the team failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1986.
Arena admitted "we didn't get the job done" after the U.S. came up short of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia following its 2-1 embarrassing loss to Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday. Honduras and Panama leapfrogged the Americans in the CONCACAF final-round qualifying table with wins Tuesday as Arena fell one point shy of getting the U.S. to an eighth straight World Cup.
"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," the 66-year-old Arena said in a statement published on U.S. Soccer's website.
"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 began his second stint coaching the U.S. last November when he replaced the fired Jurgen Klinsmann.
"This certainly is a major setback for the senior Men's National Team program, and questions rightly should be asked about how we can improve," Arena continued in his statement. "No doubt this process already has started and will continue so that U.S. Soccer can progress. Having said that, it also is important to recognize the tremendous growth and accomplishments we have achieved over the past two decades in all areas, including player development, coaching education and a stable domestic professional league. This work is ongoing and despite the result in Trinidad, the sport is on the right path. By working together, I am confident soccer in this country will continue to grow in the years and decades ahead.
"Obviously the biggest disappointment is for our fans. As a person involved in the sport for more than 40 years, to see how support for soccer in the United States has grown is incredibly gratifying. I believe I speak for everyone involved in the game in thanking all of you for your passion and commitment, and I hope you maintain your steadfast support of U.S. Soccer.
"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 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."
Arena departs as U.S. Soccer's all-time-winningest coach with a record of 81-32-35. He is also the only man to coach the U.S. in two World Cups, having reached the quarterfinals in 2002.
Arena began his first stint as the U.S. manager on Aug. 1, 1998, and coached the team until July 14, 2006. The team is 10-6-2 under Arena's direction since he took over for Klinsmann in 2016.
"We didn't qualify for the World Cup," Arena told reporters in the postgame press conference Tuesday night. "That was my job. To get the team qualified for the World Cup."