U.S. Under-23 national team Caleb Porter is one of the most highly-regarded young coaches in American soccer, and his appointment to lead the United States through Olympic Qualifying didn't come as much of a surprise to those familiar with his success at the University of Akron.
Porter is ready to face the biggest challenge of his young coaching career this month as he leads the United States through CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying (which kicks off tonight against Cuba at 9pm on Universal Sports Network/Mun2). He isn't just expected to lead the team to Olympic qualification. Porter is also being expected to help the team maximize the potential of one of the most talented American youth national teams in recent memory.
Porter isn't shying away from the responsibility, and isn't afraid to say he's confident his attacking soccer philosophy will succeed with the U.S. Olympic Qualifying team. In this Fox Soccer interview, Porter goes into detail about the origins of his coaching style, his confidence in his system, as well as his disdain for defensive soccer. He firmly believes in using possession soccer and high-pressure defending to overwhelm opponents.
Be sure to give my Fox Soccer story a read. You can find more from Porter on a wide range of topics, from more insight into his coaching philosophy to his decision to turn down the chance to coach D.C. United, to the criticism college soccer faces, after the jump:
MORE FROM CALEB PORTER
ON THE STYLE OF SOCCER HE TEACHES
"I’m a guy that never wants to go into a game and sit back and wait and worry and wonder and hang on,” Porter said. “I want to go at teams and I want my players to be confident when they go onto a field."
“I want them to be creative. I want them to have the ball."
"It’s built around possession of the ball and ball retention. Approximately 75 percent of the time the team with more possession wins the game."
"It’s not a style that’s hard to get guys to buy into, everyone wants the ball. What’s hard is getting them to be effective with it."
"We have a lot of technical players and I think by encouraging them to play you’ll see their technical qualities and creativity come out even more than you may even realize with some of these guys.
"I don’t think you have to have 11 guys that are world class to do it,” Porter said. “If you can coach it the right way, and if you can get your players to buy into playing one and two touch, and work on movement and combination play, and buy into pressing, it can be done."
ON THE ORIGINS OF HIS STYLE OF PLAY
"I’ve always liked pressing. When I was at Indiana (University) we were always a pressing team and I always felt like that’s why we're so confident as a team. It gives you a spirit and belief that when you press and disrupt an opponent."
"I start watching Barcelona three or four years ago and really, really studying them and it was like the a-ha moment. I thought in my mind that I wanted to put out a style that was pressing, but also attack-oriented with a lot of rhythm and creativity, and Barcelona was playing a perfect version of that.
"It’s the possession and the pressure, the combination of the two. Obviously they’re very talented too."
ON HIS STYLE'S SUCCESS ON THE COLLEGE LEVEL
"I implemented that philosophy at Akron and some people thought it was probably too ambitious for college soccer. Here we are, trying to play the beautiful game and playing hybrid systems and build out of the back and use my goalkeeper. Hopefully I’ve proven it can happen."
"It develops players and it's hopefully a way of doing things that can help grow the sport in this country."
"I won championships at Indiana, and so for me when I went to Akron it wasn’t going to just be good enough to win championships. I wanted to win in a way that would actually raise the bar and develop players, grow the sport and get other college coaches to follow our lead and see that you can win in college soccer with an attractive, attack-oriented approach."
ON HIS COACHING FUTURE AND TURNING DOWN D.C. UNITED
“There will be a time when I go into the pros,” Porter said. “It’s just the timing wasn’t right. You get one chance to make that jump and I’m in a fortunate position where I don’t need to make that jump unless I feel like it’s the right place and the right time.
"Right now I really enjoy what I’m doing at Akron. It’s a great job and I’ve got a lot of people that appreciate what I do. I also feel like I’m an ambassador for college soccer, to help continue to groom and develop kids who aren’t quite ready to go to the pros.
“I’m not unrealistic to think that in the next four years college soccer is going to be exactly the same,” Porter said. “I think eventually things will change and when it gets to that point then maybe it’ll be time for me to change.”
ON THE CRITICISM COLLEGE SOCCER FACES
"I understand why there's criticism, because of the rules, and to be honest with you a lot of the rules I don’t like. I feel like the game’s the game. It’s funny because I don’t even know some of the rules that allow you to sub because I don’t even sub. I try not to."
"I try to run my program in a way that’s as pure to the real game as possible. I think that’s a reason why a lot of our guys move on to the pros, because they’re prepared to be pros."