In his search for future American talents, Jurgen Klinsmann has cast a wide net, from MLS to Germany to Mexico. Now, he’s hired the man responsible for making Akron, Ohio the leading hot spot in the production of future American stars to lead the Yanks to Olympic glory.
Under previous head coach Ken Lolla, Akron was already a strong program, but after the appointment of former San Jose Clash and Tampa Bay Mutiny player Caleb Porter, the Zips became a powerhouse, despite their geographic isolation from traditional college hunting grounds like southern California and northern New Jersey.
Under Porter, Akron proceeded to rain all over everybody else’s parade, winning five straight Mid-American Conference regular season five times in a row, the Conference tournament four times in a row (runner-up his first year in charge), and after losing the 2009 final on penalties, taking the 2010 National Championship.
Armed with more than just on-field success, Akron alumni have become coveted assets at draft time, thanks to Porter’s system, which encourages intelligent, technically skilled possession soccer (see above video), also known as “that thing Jurgen Klinsmann has been trying to teach the US National Team to do.” Of the first eight picks in the 2011 MLS draft, five were Akron players. One of Porter’s former players, Teal Bunbury, has gone on to play for the USMNT at senior level.
All of which means the “rubber city” (population just a hair under 200k) is basically America’s answer to La Masia or the Ajax youth system. And 36 year old wunderkind manager Porter is kind of like the American Andre Villas Boas (although he’d probably be nicer to Nando Torres).
So it was little surprise when Klinsmann named Porter the US Under-23s coach to lead the charge for Olympic qualifying. Porter’s philosophy fits right into Klinsmann’s vision of having all levels of the American developmental structure working in sync.
And if anyone doubted his intelligence, just remember that he turned down the opportunity to coach the 2010 D.C. United team. Curt Onalfo still can’t show his face in the capital after that disaster.