Arena talks about importance of early win at WC

Former US manager led US to 2002 World Cup quarterfinals

He may be the a two-time World Cup manager and the manager of the current MLS league leaders, but Bruce Arena has little to say when it comes to USA vs. England at the World Cup.

“I don’t know,” Arena said. “Let’s hope it’s a good game. I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

The former US manager has stayed away from offering much insight heading into South Africa 2010, preferring to leave the spotlight to Bob Bradley and his squad.

The LA Galaxy boss led the USA on its most memorable World Cup run when the team advanced to the quarterfinals of Korea/Japan 2002. The Americans kicked off that tournament with a shock 3-2 victory over group favorites Portugal.

Bradley, who was Arena’s former assistant at DC United, will hope to replicate the feat come Saturday against England.

Arena says that the toughest hurdle for any team is to bag those first three points as early as possible.

“You don’t win a game, it’s hard to believe three draws would get you through,” Arena said. “You’ve got to win a game. That’s the obstacle. You can make it real complicated, but you have to win one game.”

The failure to capture a victory is what eventually doomed the USA in Germany 2006. Arena’s US team managed a prestigious 1-1 tie against Italy in the 2006 World Cup group stage, but it was still three and out.

However, aside from any single result or goal, the former US boss says that there will be one moment that will supersede all others for the 23 American players that will take on England in Rustenburg.

“The national anthem to me is special at a World Cup,” Arena said. “In 2002 it was even more special after September 11. To represent the greatest country in the world, it’s a fabulous moment in anyone’s life to be part of that and to hear your national anthem. So I don’t really care about the games and all that other stuff. For me, that’s the treasured moment.”