CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy’s Bruce Arena was voted MLS Coach of the Year on Monday and became the first coach in league history to win the award three times, having earlier won it with D.C. United in 1997 and the Galaxy in 2009.
For various Galaxy coaches and players, the latest honor was a no-brainer.
“One hundred percent deserving,” said Mike Magee, who is tied with Real Salt Lake’s Alvaro Saborio as the league’s leading scorer during the playoffs. “There’s no surprise. We almost broke the record for points, we almost broke the record for shutouts and we won the Supporters’ Shield.
“In my eyes he’s the best coach in the country.”
Arena, now in his fourth season as coach of the Galaxy, has gone 51-23-30 in 89 regular-season games, a .742 winning percentage. This year’s team was particularly impressive as it conceded a league-low 28 goals and went unbeaten in all 17 regular season games at The Home Depot Center. A compact schedule that featured more than 40 games, including one stretch of nine games in 30 days, also didn’t prevent it from advancing through group play in the CONCACAF Champions League.
“It was a great year for the whole team, and he was the main man. He was the brains behind it,” veteran Frankie Hejduk said. “I don’t think there was any question that he was going to get it with the year we had.
“He’s used to getting this type of stuff and it’s always well-deserved. We’re all really happy for him.”
Arena said he viewed his latest accolade as one he would prefer to share with everyone in the organization. He also won’t put this award above the others he has received.
“That’s kind of like the question I used to get asked, is this championship better than the others?” he said. “They’re all good. I wouldn’t minimize one over the other. They’re all fantastic honors.
“I’ll take each and every one of them, and I’m at the point where I recognize where credit is due.”
Associate head coach Dave Sarachan, Arena’s longtime assistant, said he had no doubt Arena was destined to be named Coach of the Year.
“He was the best coach in the league this year,” he said. “We all know Bruce’s quality and what he brings to the table. To be able to manage the kind of players we have here, the leadership with the ownership group, the pressure of being here in the final, there’s a lot on his plate.
“He would never externalize it; it was more internal. I don’t think people on the outside really know how hard it is. Without a doubt he deserves that award this year.”
Added Galaxy captain Landon Donovan, “I think Bruce is fully deserving. For those of us who spent the entire year here, being with him every day, we realize even more than a casual observer just how valuable he’s been to this team.
“We’re very lucky to have him. You could argue if we win MLS Cup it possibly could be his best coaching job ever.”