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Wednesday, 3 April, 2002, 09:24 GMT 10:24 UK
Arena shuns the beautiful game
Bruce Arena watches his side during their World Cup qualifying match against Costa Rica in April last year
The American coach remains optimistic after the draw
The notion of the beautiful game wears thin with USA coach Bruce Arena.

For the 50-year-old from Brooklyn, winning is all that matters... even if it means winning ugly.

That theory, which has taken the States to their fourth consecutive World Cup, shows no signs of changing when the tournament starts in June.

Bruce Arena profile
DOB: 21/9/51
Born: Brooklyn, NY
Appointed: October 1998
Home: Fairfax, Virginia
"These games are very intense and are rarely played beautifully because they mean so much," Arena said of the tournament.

"The focus is results. There is just too much at stake to worry about how the game looks."

Arena, capped just once as goalkeeper for the national side in their 2-0 defeat to Israel in 1973, replaced Steve Sampson as head coach.

He took the post after three years in charge of Major League Soccer side D.C. United having coached the American Olympic team in 1996 and later the under-23 national side.

Three-and-a-half years into the job, the senior squad are getting used to his alternative approach.

Marcus Hahnemann, Reading's American goalkeeper, is clear on where his stance differs from Sampson's.

He said: "In the past, if you played in Europe you were in. That has changed under Bruce and he is picking more and more domestic players."

No World Cup win

When the USA's squad is announced, Arena expects a 50-50 mix of European and American-based players.

Players like Blackburn's Brad Friedel and Bayer Leverkusen's Frankie Hejduk are tipped to line up with MLS stars Josh Wolff and Brian McBride.

But whatever the combination, Arena is under no illusions about his side's chances against the likes of France and Argentina, his picks to win the World Cup.

"I don't think there is a "plan" to win the Cup by 2010," he confessed.

Marcus Hahnemann in action for Rochdale, where he is on loan from Reading
Hahnemann is well aware of Arena's fresh approach
"The competition is very competitive and every team wants to win so I don't think you can set your goals that high."

The footballer Arena believes will shine at the tournament is French midfielder Zinedine Zidane, a player his side are unlikely to face before exiting the tournament.

A very real obstacle, however, is Zidane's Real Madrid club colleague Luis Figo, Portugal's playmaker and one of the USA's group D opponents.

Concerning the Cup draw which sees them face the Portuguese, South Korea and Poland, Arena added: "I was quite relieved. The draw gives us some optimism."

However he has warned his players: "The joke among some people is, 'Portugal is already celebrating'. Some people believe Portugal has an easy run out of our group."

Joking aside, Arena's win-at-all-cost approach has failed to rub off on his players consistently in qualification.

His side started strongly in the Concacaf group only to temporarily slip out of contention with a hat-trick of defeats to Mexico, Honduras and Costa Rica.

They eventually qualified behind the Mexicans and Costa Ricans and a busy spring programme has hopefully set up Arena's men for a strong showing in the summer, be it beautiful or ugly.

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GROUP D
  P GD PTS
SOUTH KOREA 3 +3 7
USA 3 -1 4
PORTUGAL 3 +2 3
POLAND 3 -4 3

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