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Big shakeup atop U.S. Soccer after World Cup qualification failure

Bruce Arena has officially stepped down as the United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) manager. It’s the first of what many fans hope will be numerous dominoes to fall after the national soccer team’s World Cup qualification disaster.

Arena was hired to right the ship after a poor start to World Cup qualifying under former manager Jurgen Klinsmann. Following a home loss to Mexico and a loss in Costa Rica, Arena was brought back into the national team fold with one clear directive. Guide the team through qualifying.

Arena, a former USMNT manager with a solid track record, was thought to be the best short-term fit to see the United States back to World Cup competition. His familiarity with the program and its MLS players made him a logical choice in the interim.

Then the USMNT failed in unbelievable fashion against world bottom feeders Trinidad and Tobago while watching Honduras and Panama wins eliminate the U.S. from the World Cup pool.

Fans were, uh, less than pleased.

With Arena out, the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) can look forward and begin what should become a complete overhaul of soccer in the United States. USSF president Sunil Gulati could be the next head to roll as the USMNT’s first failed World Cup run since 1986 prompts mass changes throughout the program.

Without meaningful soccer to be played for awhile, the focus is firmly on the future and long-term health of the sport here. Soccer has seen rapid growth in the United States, most notably visible in the rapid expansion of MLS and even the lower division professional soccer leagues, but this is a setback of unbelievable and unforeseen proportions.

It is expected Tab Ramos will head the team in the interim but this is just the beginning of likely sweeping changes.

Peter Vermes of Kansas City Sporting is one of many expected candidates for the long-term role of USMNT manager and will likely be considered a front-runner for the job if he is interested, but expect the USSF to reach far and wide in their search.

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