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Arena To Replace Sampson As Coach

Bruce Arena, coach of Major League Soccer's D.C. United, has accepted a four-year contract to take over the U.S. men's national team, according to USA Today.

USA Today is reporting Arena has signed a four-year deal believed to be worth more than $500,000 per season to take over the head coaching duties for the national program. U.S. Soccer said it will announce its new coach at a news conference in New York on Tuesday.

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Arena guided Major League Soccer's D.C. United to the first two league titles, but the team was foiled in its bid for a third Sunday when the expansion Chicago Fire posted a 2-0 victory in the MLS Cup.

The 47-year-old has the tough task of bringing back U.S. Soccer from a disastrous performance in the 1998 World Cup in France. The Americans lost all three games under coach Steve Sampson, who subsequently resigned under fire in late June.

Sampson compiled a 26-22-14 record after replacing Bora Milutinovic in August 1995, but was given the majority of the blame for a U.S. team that finished last among the 32 participating countries.


Bruce Arena
Bruce Arena won two of the first three MLS Cup titles on the sidelines with D.C. United. (AP)
on his familiarity with American soccer at the collegiate level, where he won five Division I titles, Arena is expected to add an infusion of youth to the national team when it begins qualifying for the 2002 World Cup, which will be held jointly by Korea and Japan.

Among the young players expected to make an impact are 21-yer-olds Ben Olsen (midfielder) and Josh Wolff (forward), 23-year-old defender C.J. Brown and 25-year-old goalkeeper Zach Thornton, the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year.

They would join Holdover and 25-year-old forward Brian McBride, who scored Team USA's lone goal in France, midfielders Frankie Hejduk (23), Claudio Reyna (24), Chad Deering (25) and standout defender Eddie Pope (24).

After a friendly against Australia in San Jose in 11 days, Team USA participates in the FIFA Confederations Cup early in 1999. Brazil, which was the runner-up in France '98 and has won the World Cup four times, is in the same group as the Americans. World Cup champion France was also put in that bracket, but pulled out due to conflicts with its players who refused to leave their European domestic leagues.

The United States enjoyed some success under Sampson, finishing second in the 1995 Copa America, winning the 1995 U.S. Cup, defeating Brazil in the 1998 Gold Cup and going 8-2-6 in CONCACAF qualification matches for World Cup '98.

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