Galaxy Head Coach and General Manager Bruce Arena, ably assisted by Assistant Head Coach Dave Sarachan, revitalized the fortunes of the once-moribund Galaxy this season and has the team in the Western Conference Final against the Houston Dynamo at 8 p.m. Friday at Home Depot Center.
And deservedly so after leading the Galaxy from worst to first in MLS and adding a second MLS Coach of the Year honor a dozen years after first claiming the award with D.C. United.
From the Galaxy press release:
In his first full season with the Galaxy, Arena helped lead the Galaxy to a 12-6-12 record and a first place finish in the Western Conference, giving the club their first postseason berth since the 2005 season. Arena claimed the award after garnering the most votes in polling of MLS players, general managers, coaches and members of the media.
Arena, 58, was named the Galaxy’s head coach on August 18, 2008, replacing the recently departed Ruud Gullit. He helped guide the club to a 2-5-3 record in his 10 games in charge at the end of the 2008 season. Following his initial season in Los Angeles, Arena overhauled the Galaxy roster, with 16 of the 26 players on the club’s current roster having joined the club since the end of the 2008 season.
With his new look roster in place, Arena guided the Galaxy to a club record 12 shutouts in the regular season and just 31 goals allowed, exactly half of the league-worst 62 goals that they conceded in 2008. Arena’s improvements paid dividends in the attack as well, with the club receiving nine goals and 15 assists from players that he brought in following the 2008 season.
Seattle Sounders FC Coach Sigi Schmid and Columbus Crew Coach Robert Warzycha were the other finalists this year.
BTW, Arena paid tribute to the role the players have played this season after last weekend’s game:
“These are special games and on Friday it will be a special game. I’m real pleased to be part of this group. This has been one of my more enjoyable jobs in the last 30-35 years. You come in every day (and) these guys are a pleasure to work with. I think their vested interest in this team has made a difference. They buy into everything.”
Also, here’s Arena’s not-so-secret strategy for Friday night: “Show up.”
A more detailed preview is here.
Previous Coach of the year winners:
2008: Sigi Schmid – Columbus Crew
2007: Preki – Chivas USA
2006: Bob Bradley – Chivas USA
2005: Dominic Kinnear – San Jose Earthquakes
2004: Greg Andrulis – Columbus Crew
2003: Dave Sarachan – Chicago Fire
2002: Steve Nicol – New England Revolution
2001: Frank Yallop – San Jose Earthquakes
2000: Bob Gansler – Kansas City Wizards
1999: Sigi Schmid – Los Angeles Galaxy
1998: Bob Bradley – Chicago Fire
1997: Bruce Arena – D.C. United
1996: Thomas Rongen – Tampa Bay Mutiny