U.S. Youth National Teams

Porter discusses plans as U.S. U-23 coach


photo by Tony Quinn/ISIphotos.com


The Caleb Porter era is underway.

A day after being named head coach of the U.S. U-23 men's national team, Porter held a telephone conference to discuss his new role, plans to qualify for the upcoming Olympics and what he wants to achieve.

"My goal, my priority is to win. You have to win," said Porter. "I want this group to qualify and then I want to have a good performance in the Olympics. But at the same time, even though results are important, it's also equally as important that we move U.S. Soccer forward by developing players and coming up with a uniform philosophy within the organization."

Porter repeatedly stressed that he is already fully invested in his new job despite him also being in charge of Akron University's team.

He also opened up about the style of play that he's planning on implementing with the U-23 team, and it will resemble what Jurgen Klinsmann is doing with the senior national team.

"Philosophically, we're all on the same page. That's one of the great things," said Porter. "I've had several conversations already with Jurgen, in person, on the phone, through email. He's a guy that's going be open to communicate with all these national teams. He wants his vision to trickle down. I think it's very important to have it that way."

That means that we can expect Porter's squad to be a possession-oriented team that doesn't wait to react.

"We're not naive. We don't feel like we're going to throw the ball out tomorrow and play like Spain, but we do want to play a proactive approach," said Porter. "We want to, if we can, possess the ball and I think there has to be an emphasis on the attack, but we also don't want to lose the things that make the U.S. special. Our fight, our spirit, our defending, and all the things that have been a trademark in this country."

Chief Executive of U.S. Soccer Dan Flynn was also on the call, and he discussed the process to hire Porter and U.S. U-20 head coach Tab Ramos. Flynn said interviews were conducted by he, Klinsmann, (U.S. Youth Technical Director) Claudio Reyna and (USSF President) Sunil Gulati. Candidates for the two positions were both domestic and international, though Flynn wouldn't name who the others were.

Flynn was asked about the timing of the decision to hire Porter, and if it makes it more difficult for the 36-year-old coach, seeing as how Olympic qualifying begins in little over four months.

"With the change in the men's national team, that probably forced us to slow the process down a little bit, make sure that we wanted to start from the top down and have our U-20s and U-23s and the men's national team connected," said Flynn. "So while it may seem like a short window, we're pretty comfortable and Caleb understands the pool of players. I know he looks at a lot of tape and follows (MLS) quite heavily. 

"Our former U-20 coach Thomas Rongen did a lot of identifying of players around Europe, so it isn't like we weren't building for this. In fact, a lot has been done and allows us to go very quickly."

Porter will have to get things done quickly in order to get a team prepared for Olympic qualifying in March, especially considering that he won't be with the U-23 team for its first camp in Germany next month due to Akron still being in season.

Making that task tougher for Porter is that he likely will not get a complete pool of players to choose from. Klinsmann already relies on youngsters such as Jozy Altidore and Brek Shea, and that could continue to be the case. It just all depends on if Klinsmann wants to keep the Olympic-eligible players on the senior side or if he wants them contributing to the U-23 team.

"He is completely supportive of me and the job I need to do, he wants to help me. Yet I don't expect to get guys that are with him," said Porter, "guys like Jozy Altidore and Juan Agudelo and Brek Shea and other guys that are performing well with him, I don't expect to get them at every camp, and probably won't get them until the summer.

"But that will be his decision. I just know that I need to prepare the rest of the pool in case I don't get some of the guys, in case they aren't available, and so my task right now is to look at the guys that I don't know about, first and foremost, to get a look at some new guys and see what they can do with the group and see if they are guys that can help us moving forward."

  • Alex G

    I have a question for the soccer by Ives bloggers, since I´ve been living in Mexico for a decade I really don´t now what is the current level of acceptance soccer has among the general U.S. population, a friend that lives in NY says Americans still don´t care and that´s the reason we suck at the sport. I know we don´t suck that much and I don´t want to make any assumptions, so that´s why I ask, give me the real perspective. Thanx.

    BTW Caleb is great.


  • Northzax

    Yep. On weekdays they are limited to 15k, otherwise there’d be no parking for students (the school has ton of night classes)


  • Paul Thomas

    All this talk about “strategic plans” is psychobabble. It has no application to the real world, where players basically are who they are.

    American players are going to continue to play like past American players because, when it comes down to it, a few top-down edicts from USSF will have zero impact on how the people who really shape play style– their peers– play.

    The job of a soccer coach is to pick the best possible talent and develop a game plant that fits that talent. In certain sports you can make up for lack of talent with gimmicks and schemes (eg college football), but soccer is not one of them.

    If Porter is actually good at picking out talent and is allowed to do so, then the results should be good. If he’s forced to pick mediocre-but-young players in the hopes of “developing” them into some new “national style”, though, it’s going to be a fiasco.


  • OC

    The Confederations Cup can only be called important to your national team if your national team is actually in it :(


  • Jackal

    I don’t really know about that maybe I’m from Cali and it seems different but where I go to College there is as many soccer jerseys (MLS and European players) as there is football and basketball jersey. It’s become fairly popular even though there are going to be people who are going to say otherwise. Is it as popular as the 3 major sports no it not but more popular then 3-4 years ago, sure is. In another 5-10 years if we do well at the Olympics and 2014 I’m pretty sure it’s going to get even more popular.


  • Juan from L.A.

    The Olympic qualifying is the toughest of all the qualifying in the region. I don’t have high hopes on this. Mexico is way ahead and has a more talented pool, while Costa Rica and Honduras already has three-four steps ahead in preparation. Also I’m not sold on Porter. Let the criticism begin, but not that I was of the first to realize and say that we would have trouble in the U-20 and Gold Cup and look at those results.


  • Aaron in StL

    Love the hiring of Porter and Ramos. Jurgy is all about development, good to see young coaches getting chances to grow. That’s how we start the export process there


  • Paul Thomas

    Uh, only two teams are in the World Cup final, but I’d say that game is pretty important. Ditto with the Super Bowl.

    Being an exclusive, hard-to-qualify-for event makes good performance at that event more valuable, not less.


  • Paul Thomas

    It’s a niche sport, like hockey. Football, baseball and basketball are far more popular. However, it’s no longer the case (usually) that liking soccer will get you sneered at, which is substantial progress (because even if only a tenth of the population is into the sport, plenty of countries with populations of 30 million can do very well at the international game).


  • Paul Thomas

    Eh, any time your qualifying process goes through a single must-win game, it’s going to be “harder” for the more talented teams to qualify than it would be if it was determined through a process that involves more games (like the Hexagonal for the main World Cup).

    In a single-elim knockout competition, who qualifies is pretty much a crapshoot.


  • GW

    The way these things work, like Coach K still coaching Duke while coaching the Olympic basketball team, is the time management issue is on Porter.

    If Akron had a problem with it, I’m pretty sure they could have stopped it.

    Porter is an adult.


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