Bruce Arena, the all-time winningest coach of the U.S. men's national soccer team., loves hearing the national anthem before international sports matchups.
However, he doesn't like the presence of "The Star-Spangled Banner" ahead of club sports contests.
Speaking Thursday on ESPN's "Banter with Taylor Twellman," Arena said, "I question why we're playing the national anthem in professional sporting events in our country. ... I think it puts people in awkward positions. ...
"We don't use the national anthem in movie theaters, on Broadway, other events in the United States. I don't think it's appropriate to have a national anthem before a baseball game or an MLS game. But having said that, I want it understood, I'm very patriotic, but I just think it's inappropriate. And today, it's becoming too big of an issue."
Arena, currently the head coach of MLS' New England Revolution, is a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame. He led MLS' D.C. United before his first stint as the USMNT coach, 1998-2006, during which he guided the team to a quarterfinal berth in the 2002 World Cup and a group-stage exit in the 2006 World Cup.
Arena coached two more MLS teams, the New York Red Bulls and Los Angeles Galaxy, before returning to coach the national team in November 2016. Replacing Jurgen Klinsmann after the U.S. got off to a poor start in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, Arena oversaw the team that failed to make it to the sport's showcase event for the first time since 1986.
With an 81-35-32 mark in charge of the USMNT, Arena holds the program records for most games coached and most wins. He was on the bench for the team's CONCACAF Gold Cup championships in 2002, 2005 and 2017.
Talking about the anthem protests started by Colin Kaepernick in 2016 and continued by Megan Rapinoe and others, Arena said, "I understand why people are kneeling. We saw it with the (U.S. women's national soccer team), we saw it in the NFL. I think if they are respectful, it's appropriate. ...
"I would tell you this. I'm the most patriotic person you're ever going to be around. As the national team coach, at times, during the national anthem, I was in tears. Honored to represent the United States in World Cups and international matches. And I think playing the national anthem is clearly appropriate at those levels."
--Field Level Media