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U.S. Soccer was 'on the verge of bankruptcy' in 1998 - Bruce Arena

SAN DIEGO -- U.S. Soccer was "on the verge of bankruptcy" in 1998, Bruce Arena said on Saturday, though he believes the sport has "grown tremendously" in the country since his first tenure as coach.

After leading the U.S. from 1998-2006, Arena was rehired in November to replace Jurgen Klinsmann, who was fired after five years in charge.

Arena said the U.S. Soccer Federation has undergone some important changes in the intervening 10-plus years since he last held the job.

"The federation has grown in leaps and bounds," Arena said on the eve of his first game since retaking the job, a friendly against Serbia (4 p.m. ET, ESPN2/WatchESPN).

"When I started in November of 1998 we were on the verge of bankruptcy. I don't know if I'm allowed to say that, but we were. We can probably buy everyone a cup of coffee today and not have any problems.

"The national team program is supported much better. Both the men and women are well supported. We've made progress in our programs."

Arena also said he believe the sport in the U.S. has changed dramatically for the better over the past decade.

"In terms of the sport in our country it's grown tremendously I think," he said. "The national team is much more recognized. The sport on the professional level has grown. The players are more experienced.

"We're beginning to see somewhat of a culture that you see elsewhere around world, where there's a little bit of pressure on the team, the players, the coaches, be successful. That's part of the growth of the sport."