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Arena May Become U.S. Soccer Coach

August 14, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Bruce Arena, coach of D.C. United of the Major Soccer League, is the leading candidate to replace Steve Sampson as coach of the United States national team, The Washington Post and USA Today reported in Friday’s editions.

According to the newspapers, Arena, 46, has the backing of U.S. Soccer Federation president Alan Rothenberg, who’ll leave his post Aug. 23.

Rothenberg has said he wanted to have a coach, preferably with international experience, in place before he left office. But he altered that stance since meeting with Arena on Aug. 2 and now backs the American-born coach over three others said to also be in the running.

Arena’s international experience is limited to coaching the United States’ under-23 team in the 1996 Olympics.

Sampson quit as coach of the national team after the United States finished last among 32 teams in the World Cup earlier this summer.

``I think the world of Bruce Arena, but it’s premature to make a comment on the selection of the coach. We are still studying the issue,″ Rothenberg told The Post.

Arena coached D.C. United to the first two MLS championships.

``I’m interested,″ Arena told The Post. ``But I think at this point in time, there would still be a lot of points to be discussed related to the position. I have what I feel is an excellent job. ... I’ve talked to a fair number of people in U.S. Soccer who have been very nice. I’ve concluded that, whether or not this works out or doesn’t, it’s been a good experience.

``I want to do right not only by U.S. Soccer, but also for myself. Maybe this isn’t right. ... I don’t have enough information to make a decision.″

The Post, citing an unidentified source, reported that Arena likely would be offered a two-year contract with two option years or a one-year deal with multiple options. Arena said he would prefer a four-year contract.

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