On March 2, 2012, Ken Arena became the fifth head coach in the history of FIU men's soccer. In just one season, Arena has already made strides in rebuilding the storied Panther soccer program. After leading FIU to its most wins since 2005 in his first season at the helm, he brings in a 2013 recruiting class that’s featured on TopDrawerSoccer.com as one of five classes in the country with tremendous potential.
Arena led the Panthers to an 8-8-2 mark during the 2012 campaign, the most wins since FIU also posted eight during the 2005 season. The Panthers, who outscored their opponents 28-26 in 2012, return their top two goal scorers in Quentin Albrecht and Colby Burdette. As sophomores last season, the tandem combined for 17 goals and seven assists. Albrecht was a Third Team All-South Region selection and was also named to the All-C-USA Second team.
"We are excited to hire a coach of Kenny Arena's caliber," FIU Executive Director of Sports and Entertainment Pete Garcia said. "He has experience in the collegiate, professional and international ranks and will raise the level of success here at FIU. We look forward to seeing him return our men's soccer program to national prominence. We expect nothing but great things for the team's future."
Arena, a former Major League Soccer player and University of Virginia standout, spent four seasons as an assistant coach for the UCLA Bruins from 2008-11. During his time at UCLA, he helped lead the Bruins to three Pac-12 titles, three NCAA quarterfinal appearances and a 2011 College Cup appearance. With the Bruins, he was responsible for player development and recruiting. Under Arena, the Bruins produced 35 All-Pac 12 selections, two Player of the Year honorees and two Freshmen of the Year, as well as, 11 MLS draft picks. Prior to his time at UCLA, Arena was an assistant coach at George Mason in 2007 and a volunteer coach for the University of Virginia in 2006.
"Kenny is a very, very good young coach," University of Virginia Head Coach George Gelnovatch said. "I think it's a fantastic hire for FIU. He's one of the hardest-working guys in terms of recruiting. I see him everywhere. He has also done a very good job coaching with the LA Galaxy Academy U16 Team."
As head coach of the U16 LA Galaxy Academy Team, Arena led his squad to the 2010-11 USSDA National and SoCal Division championships, as well as the 2011 U-17 MLS Generation Adidas Cup. Those three championships were the first in club history. One of Arena's academy players became just the second homegrown player ever to sign with the LA Galaxy.
"Kenny Arena is one of the finest young coaches in the United States," Former U.S. National Team Head Coach and Current Egyptian National Team Head Coach Bob Bradley said. "He possesses tremendous soccer knowledge and has a real passion to teach the game. Kenny will provide great leadership for FIU soccer."
Arena was responsible for player development, recruiting and scheduling at George Mason in 2007. At Virginia in 2006, he helped the Cavaliers advance to the NCAA Semifinals, where they lost to UCLA. In addition, Arena had been training and coaching club teams in the Virginia area since 1998.
Arena played three seasons in Major League Soccer, spending 2003 and 2004 with the NY/NJ MetroStars and the 2005 season with DC United. In 2002, Arena was a member of the U.S. U-23 National Team and was also a member of the U.S. U-20 National Team from 2000-2001. He played in the 2001 World Youth Championships in Argentina, scoring a goal against the Ukraine.
At the University of Virginia, Arena started in 65-of-78 games at midfield from 1999-2002, totaling 24 career points off seven goals, three of which were game-winners, and 10 assists. He earned all-conference honors as a senior and was twice named to the VaSID All-Virginia team.
Arena's father, Bruce, is currently the general manager/head coach of the 2011 MLS Champion Los Angeles Galaxy and was the head coach of the U.S. men's national team from 1998-2006. He coached championship teams with DC United and at the University of Virginia.
"FIU has hired one of the outstanding young coaches in college soccer," Bruce Arena said. "I think he's going to do an outstanding job building a program at FIU and I see nothing but great things ahead for the program and Kenny as well."