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Revolution place Bruce Arena on administrative leave amid allegations of ‘insensitive and inappropriate remarks’

Bruce Arena has been with the Revolution since 2019.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

Revolution sporting director/head coach Bruce Arena has been placed on administrative leave “pending a review into allegations that he made insensitive and inappropriate remarks,” according to a statement Tuesday from Major League Soccer.

Revolution technical director Curt Onalfo will take over as sporting director, and longtime Arena assistant Richie Williams will coach the Revolution when they meet Atlas FC in a Leagues Cup match at Gillette Stadium Thursday.

The Revolution advanced to the Round of 32 in the Leagues Cup with a 5-1 victory over Atletico San Luis last week. In MLS play, which will resume with a visit to Nashville Aug. 20, the Revolution (12-4-7, 43 points) are off to the best home start (10-0-3) in team history.


A statement from the team on Arena said, “The organization takes any allegations of workplace misconduct extremely seriously and is working closely with the League and fully cooperating with its investigation.”

Arena, 71, is MLS’s all-time winningest coach, holds the league record for MLS Cup titles (five, two with D.C. United, three with the Los Angeles Galaxy), and guided the US national team in two World Cups (2002, 2006) and to three Gold Cup titles (2002, 2005, 2017).

The Revolution hired Arena in May 2019, the team rallying from last place to a playoff spot. In 2021, the Revolution set a league record with 73 points, going 22-5-7 before being eliminated in the playoffs, as Arena was named Coach of the Year for the fourth time.

Arena, who signed a contract extension last year, holds MLS records for career wins in the regular season (262-178-131) and playoffs (35-13-7).

After playing as a goalkeeper at Nassau Community College and Cornell, plus an international appearance for a US visit to Israel in 1973 and a stint with the Montreal Quebecois in the National Lacrosse League, Arena was recruited to play for the Tacoma Tides by former Tufts star Dan Wood.


After the Tides folded in 1976, Arena was hired as University of Puget Sound soccer coach. The Loggers ended with a 5-7 record, the first of only three Arena losing seasons (8-9-1 in 1980 at the University of Virginia; 10-12-12 with the Revolution last year). The Cavaliers won five NCAA titles under Arena before he took over as D.C. United coach in 1996, MLS’s first year.

Doubling as US Olympic team coach, Arena guided D.C. United to titles in the first two MLS Cups (including 1996 at Foxboro Stadium), then lost in the ‘98 final. He then moved to the US national team, taking it to the World Cup quarterfinals in 2002, the best US finish besides a semifinal loss in 1930.

Returning to the national team in 2017, Arena failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, and he considered retiring. But after a year away from the game, he accepted the Revolution’s offer to take over after the team got off to a 2-8-2 start to the 2019 season.

Arena’s teams are noted for their attacking style, allowing players freedom to create offensively. Several of Arena’s collegiate players went on to professional careers. With the national team and in the pros, Arena helped develop youngsters such as Landon Donovan along with managing high-profile European stars such as David Beckham and Robbie Keane.

This season, the Revolution got off to a fast start, winning their opener for the first time since 2013. With Carles Gil leading the league in assists (12), the Revolution are proving to be among the league’s most potent offensive teams. They have scored nine goals in their last two home games, one short of the team record set in 2001.


Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at frankdellapa@gmail.com.