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Players explain what makes Bruce Arena a “remarkable” coach

Altidore says “it’s no surprise” that Arena has the most wins of any MLS coach.

SOCCER: NOV 30 MLS Cup Playoffs - New York City FC at New England Revolution Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Bruce Arena became the winningest coach in MLS history on Saturday night when the New England Revolution defeated FC Dallas 1-0. In true Arena fashion, he didn’t speak much about himself in the post-game press conference.

Arena’s 241 regular-season wins are one better than Sigi Schmid’s total. The two men crossed paths regularly throughout their storied careers. There were times when they were colleagues and times when they were opponents. At one point Schmid was a neighbor of Arena’s son, Kenny.

Arena took a moment to speak about the man with whom he shared a few adult beverages.

“I have the greatest respect for him,” Arena told media. “He was a gentleman and really dedicated to the game and his players...It’s an honor to be associated with him.”

Arena admitted that breaking the record, especially at home, is “nice” before he recognized the players he has coached. He said, “If I had a bunch of lousy teams, I don’t think I’d have the record.”

While Arena didn’t want to talk about himself, Jozy Altidore and Andrew Farrell were ready to share a few kind words.

Arena was Altidore’s first professional coach as the two previously worked together at the New York Red Bulls. He explained that it’s “no surprise” that Arena has the record because “Bruce is a winner.” More than anything else, Arena knows how to manage a locker room.

“I think you see guys fighting up until the very, very last bounce of the ball,” Altidore said. “That’s a testament to the environment, the team environment that’s here. So, it’s a huge congratulations to him.”

Farrell has witnessed the magic of Arena first-hand. When Arena joined the Revs in May 2019, the team had only won twice in their first 15 games. The Revs seemed destined for the Wooden Spoon, but Arena got them into the playoffs. In 2021, the Revs won their first-ever Supporters’ Shield by setting a new single-season points record.

Farrell called Arena “remarkable,” noting all that he’s done for the Revs.

“He’s come in and changed what we’ve been doing here, and I think he changed it for the better a lot,” Farrell said. “A lot of things he’s done have helped us a lot on a personal level and on the field.

“He finds the best people and figures out how to make them work together, so that’s what he’s done. I think it’s cool to see it happen upfront and personal, and obviously congrats to him.”

Arena concluded his comments by looking towards the future, saying “Hopefully we can move forward and try to get this team better.”

The Revs want to capture the elusive MLS Cup and be the first-ever MLS team to win the Concacaf Champions League. Their campaign for the second objective resumes on Wednesday when the Revs host Pumas.

But first, the team took a moment on Saturday to celebrate Arena by having champagne and cake. Altidore accurately described the event with the final words of the press conference: “Champagne time!”