Bruce Arena: Jurgen Klinsmann had positive impact in growing U.S. Soccer

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -- United States coach Bruce Arena believes Jurgen Klinsmann, the man he replaced at the U.S. helm late last year, had a positive impact on the national team program.

Klinsmann's controversial five-year reign ended when he was fired in November following back-to-back World Cup qualifying losses to Mexico and Costa Rica in November. It was the first time the Americans had dropped the opening two matches of the final "Hexagonal" round of qualifying, leaving the U.S. last in its six-team group and in danger of not advancing to the main event in Russia next year.

Klinsmann, who was also named U.S. Soccer's technical director in 2013, failed to deliver on his early promises to remake the historically scrappy, defensively sound U.S. into a more free-flowing, attack-minded team. The U.S. under-23 team also failed to reach the Olympics twice during his tenure, and his unorthodox methods wore on his players.

But Klinsmann also got the Americans out of perhaps the toughest four-team group at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, and he left with the second-highest winning percentage of any U.S. coach -- his mark of 63.8 percent trails only Arena, who won 65.8 percent of his games when he previously led the squad from 1998-2006.

"Everyone has their way of doing things; I think the people that followed me after 2006 -- Bob Bradley and Jurgen -- they've done a very good job of growing the program," Arena told ESPN FC on Thursday in a wide-ranging interview before Friday's friendly match against Jamaica.

Arena, who led the LA Galaxy to three MLS Cups and four title-game appearances between his U.S. stints, said he hasn't spoken to his predecessor since the switch was made.

"I haven't had the chance," Arena said, adding that he had been in touch with Bradley, his former assistant with the University of Virginia, at D.C. United and with the U.S. at the 1996 Olympics.

But he said that Klinsmann successfully challenged the federation to devote more resources to national teams at various levels. He also suggested that the U.S. benefited from the former German World Cup-winning striker's global profile, echoing something USSF president Sunil Gulati said shortly after Klinsmann was dismissed.

"I think it's grown in stature," Arena said of the national team program. "I think it's grown in support, and that's big. He convinced U.S. Soccer to do more things to help grow the program that I think I wasn't able to achieve, or what Bob was able to do."