Current Akron coach Caleb Porter has been hired to coach the U.S. Under-23 team, otherwise known as the Olympic team, on Thursday, according to an official release. The hiring was first rumored on Wednesday. Porter will retain his position at Akron, where he has become one of the most successful college coaches -- going 100-15-12 in his six years -- culminating with the school's first ever national championship last year. At the same time, U.S. Soccer also announced that Tab Ramos has been hired as the U20 coach.
"We are excited to have Caleb join our youth National Team staff," U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said in a release. "Still early in his career, Caleb has been extremely successful and has demonstrated the ability to mentor and develop young players. A proven winner, we believe he will do a great job of leading our Under-23 Men’s National Team as they look to qualify for the Olympic Games next summer."
The hiring of Porter has already been seen as a somewhat controversial move by some and a stroke of genius by others. As a U23 coach, Porter will have plenty of professionals under his tutelage, but he has limited experience working with current pros as either a player or coach. He played just four games at the MLS level and has never coached there.
His credentials as a coach of college players, though, are stellar. In six years at Akron, he has turned the Ohio school into one of the sports power players. In the last three years, Akron has sent 11 players to MLS, including eight of whom were among the first 10 picks of their respective SuperDrafts. Last year, five of the first eight players selected were from Akron.
Clearly, Porter is adept at coaching pro-quality talent.
Whether or not that translates to coaching actual pros is another thing entirely. Former Akron players such as Darlington Nagbe, Perry Kitchen, Zarek Valentin, Kofi Sarkodie and Teal Bunbury are just some of current pros who should be available for selection to Porter's 2012 Olympic team and it would make sense for him to bring in players with whom he already has respect. It remains to be seen if the Jozy Altidores and the Mikkel Diskeruds of the U.S. player pool -- guys who never played in college -- will be as open to his coaching style.