CARSON, Calif. – LA Galaxy president Chris Klein said it was a “very short conversation” when he approached coach and general manager Bruce Arena to talk about a contract extension.
Both parties, as it turned out, were more than interested in continuing what has been a very successful partnership.
“It was ‘Yep. OK,’ ” Klein said with a grin Thursday after the team officially announced a multi-year extension with Arena, who is entering his seventh season with the MLS powerhouse. “We keep going.
“He’s the guy for us. For what we want to do we wouldn’t want anyone else leading us.”
Arena, 62, arrived in Los Angeles in 2008 and has led the team to three MLS Cup finals and back-to-back championships in 2011 and 2012. He has a regular-season record of 82-46-44 and has led the team to first-place finishes in the Western Conference in three of the last five seasons.
The Galaxy also won the Supporters’ Shield, symbolic of the MLS team with the team with the best regular-season record, in 2010 and 2011.
“I don’t know that it’s a big surprise,” Klein said of the extension. “Obviously look at what he’s done since he came here in 2008. And we wanted to make sure he could continue to do that.
“He’s the best coach our game has seen in this country, and we’re thankful he’s part of the Galaxy.”
Arena called the new contract “a great honor” and said he plans on being in Los Angeles for quite some time.
“I plan on retiring around 99,” he joked after training Thursday. “I think this is the best place to be in this country. I’m pleased with the opportunity to continue with the Galaxy.”
Arena was the first coach in MLS history to win four MLS Cup titles and has been named MLS Coach of the Year three times. He is a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame and is the all-time leader in victories among coaches of the U.S. men’s national team. He led the U.S. to the World Cup twice, including a quarterfinal berth in 2002 in Japan/Korea.
The Galaxy’s Landon Donovan, who was a member of that historic 2002 team, said Arena’s new deal “was well-deserved” and added Arena’s impact on the Galaxy almost was immeasurable.
“I don’t think you can overstate what he’s done since he got here,” he said. “We were arguably the worst team in the league. I think now I might be the only player left from that first group he inherited.
“He’s got so many good qualities. He has a real eye for talent, he knows how to mange players well and tactically he’s a good coach. You get one or two of those qualities you’re happy, but when you get all of them you’re going to have a very successful coach.”
Added Klein, “You look at our success over the past whatever it is, four or five years. To be able to continue that and be able to keep a core together, to be able to talk about some of the same things going into 2014 is almost unheard of in our league.”