Porter turns down D.C. United, signs new deal with Akron

Caleb Porter (ISIphotos.com)

Photo by ISIphotos.com

In a move that will surely come as a shock in MLS circles, highly-regarded University of Akron head coach Caleb Porter has turned down the job as D.C. United head coach after being offered the position just a day after Akron lost in the NCAA College Cup Final to Virginia in penalty kicks.

Multiple sources told SBI on Tuesday evening that D.C. United offered Porter the job on Monday, and after some soul-searching, Porter decided to stay with Akron. The University issued a press release announcing that it had signed Porter to a new five-year contract on late Tuesday.

"After reaching the pinnacle of college soccer this season, my vision will be to sustain the program for long-term success as one of the nation's elite programs," Porter said in the Akron statement. "This an exciting time for Akron Soccer and with upgrades to the facility on the horizon I am confident we have all the resources necessary to continue competing for national championships for many years to come."

So why did Porter pass on D.C. United?

Sources have told SBI that Porter had some reservations about making the jump from college to MLS at this point in his career (Porter turns 35 in February). There was also the desire to stay with Akron, a team he built from small team to national power, and make another run at an NCAA title after finishing this year undefeated before losing in penalties in the championship match. With most of the team's nucleus expected back, Akron would likely be considered a title favorite in 2010.

Where will D.C. United turn to next? Former Kansas City head coach and D.C. United assistant Curt Onalfo had been considered the most likely choice if Porter were not named head coach, but the search may be extended after D.C. missed out on its top target.

What do you think of this development? Surprised? Glad to see a coach stick by his school, or do you think Porter is making a mistake? Who do you see D.C. hiring next?

Share your thoughts below.

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58 Responses to Porter turns down D.C. United, signs new deal with Akron

  1. Hugo says:

    Damn… I was really excited for the new season as porter in charge…

  2. Charley says:

    sucks for DC, but I think it’s probably the right move for Porter.

    Stay in the NCAA for a couple more seasons, perfect your game a little more and then make the jump when you are ready.

  3. Matt Snyder says:

    It’s “good to be the king” as the saying goes, why give it up especially when you can “homestead” longterm in college….

    I think you go ONLY if you KNOW it is a really really good deal financially, and can live with the fact that there is a 50/50 chance you will be looking for a new job in 3-6 years. “Longterm” doesn’t exist in the pro ranks for coaches.

  4. RLW2020 says:

    i know many knock the NCAA but i am not complaining about a program that pushes out Zakawani and Teal in back to back years. Keep the prospects coming and maybe by the time he is 40 a team in the MLS will sign him, leaving decades to coach at the highest level in this country.

  5. RK says:

    UVa is the king.

  6. BellusLudas says:

    Smart move on Porter’s part. DC should get Williams back in the mix. Should have been him from the get go.

  7. Premature speculation says:

    Probably a good move for both parties. Porter has better job security (based on DCU’s revolving door of coaches) staying at Akron for 5 years and DCU doesn’t hire the flavor of the month from the college ranks that probably would have been over matched in the pro’s. Maybe in a few years if he has continued success he should look to jump to MLS but not this soon.

  8. What happened to the Indiana job that Porter was apparently offered?

    (SBI-Todd Yeagley looks to be getting that job from what I hear.)

  9. fischy says:

    Frack.

  10. Kyle says:

    I’m always surprised Jay Vidovich doesn’t get more looks as an MLS coach. Thank goodness he doesn’t, though.

    -deacon fan

  11. kofi_x5 says:

    Its great that he’s sticking with Akron. The powerhouse college teams with great coaches is super important to the development of the pro game in the US. I respect his decision 100%

  12. METROrevolutionF*CK DC says:

    he knows how lame dc united is. he’s a metro only kinda guy

  13. Gary says:

    Tough to know if it’s a good decision without all the facts.

    What’s his salary at Akron?
    What was DC offering (salary and decision making)?

    What do you think the answers to these are?

  14. Eric says:

    Gary, there was more to this decision than money, that’s for sure.

  15. KevDC says:

    congrats. you must be so proud.

  16. KevDC says:

    “Revolving door”? No coach has ever had less than three years at DCU.

  17. dudeinho says:

    do they still have timeouts in college soccer? and backwards counting clocks? last time i watched a championship match i saw that and turned it off.

  18. OmarVizquel says:

    As we all know well, there will be yearly MLS openings should the guy ever want to leave.

  19. J H says:

    Is it just me or does Caleb Porter look like he could be the older brother of Clint Dempsey?

  20. Ron says:

    Its just you.

  21. DC Josh says:

    So no Porter anymore, he can remain a zipper. Can we please hire Onalfo and move on?

  22. Beckster says:

    Agreed. Just sign Onalfo with Olsen as an assistant and get on with it. Hope we don’t go down to South America and look for a coach and some more players.

  23. john says:

    This incident confirms Porter lacks the courage of his talents.

  24. JoeW says:

    1. One of the realities (that Ives and others have pointed out repeatedly) is that the top college coaches with big-name programs get huge bucks AND tremendous job security and it isn’t a 12-month job. If you’ve got a family or you don’t want to be jetting down to honduras on off-says to scout a backup left-back, then college with a successful program can be great and it’s really tough for MLS to compete with that.

    2. I’m not a big fan of hiring college (or foreign coaches) b/c I think a successful MLS coach benefits from so much knowledge and history and arcane trivia about what it takes to work in the league. That said, there are exceptions. Porter would have been an intriguing one. Don’t know if he would have worked out or not but from the league’s rep (where there are always complaints about “recycling”) it would have been interesting.

    3. I wish Porter the best with the Zips. There is nothing wrong with having good coaches in college who crank out good talent and play an attractive game and he’s part of that mix. I suspect that DCU will now go with Onalfo. He had a fabulous rep when he was here at DCU and was a de facto interim coach at one point. The biggest reason Payne didn’t consider him for an opening was his age/lack of experience. I don’t think DCU views the KC record as a defining statement about Onalfo’s ability as a coach. Wise? We’ll see.

    4. I’m still surprised that Richie Williams continues to receive so little enthusiasm from various GMs/Presidents. Does he urinate on the potted plant in the President’s office when he comes in for the interview or paw the Owner’s teenage daughter? This guy should be on everyone’s short list. He’s been an assistant for a wide range of coaching styles, he knows MLS, he’s gotten out of 2 train wrecks and put the train back on the track and in the right direction.

  25. Disappointing to hear.

  26. cj says:

    Ives, did he really turn down the job or was it really offered to him? I think he is a tremendous young coach who is a good recruiter but to make a jump to the pros after only coaching for 4 years as a head coach in college is a bit of a stretch. The guy is only 35.

  27. Josh D says:

    D@mn! I was really excited to see a young coach come in during, I hope, DC’s rebirth. After a stagnate few years (don’t think the Open Cup is good enough when compared to our league standings), we need something fresh. Onalfo isn’t the answer for a team needing revitalization. I’d take Williams but our board will probably now go for the steady move with transfers under way and a draft coming up.

    Disappointed but we’ll be waiting for him when he leaves Akron!

  28. MexicanBlueFish says:

    He´s not ready. A good coach knows when people are ready.

  29. Blitzkrieg says:

    So you completely discount the college game because the clock is kept differently? Says many things about you … all of them bad.

  30. Blitzkrieg says:

    This incident confirms Porter is bright and makes good career decisions.

  31. RRJW says:

    Unlike DC United, Akron is about to get a new soccer stadium. It has a chance to be a destination program outside the ACC, which is nice.

  32. Bryan says:

    As a Crew fan that grew up in Akron, I love seeing the success and the program that Porter is building. Glad to see him stay, but must say that I’m surprised…

  33. Onalfo in DC? It’s a perfect match! Neither seems to be able to live up to expectations.

  34. K Bone says:

    Well, according to one guy on another post, Akron is apparently about as good as United, so it makes sense that he’d want to stay. I believe the direct quote was that if Akron was in MLS, they wouldn’t finish last. Based on that “logic”, United would be a step sideways…

  35. Section 210 says:

    You must be kidding. It is bad enough that Onalfo is still in the mix. The last thing that DCU needs is another of these mediocre retreads.

  36. zenabi says:

    after watching firsthand the education of Hyndman at fc dallas, a coach with much deeper experience, I would say he did the right thing. hyndman just figured it out after 1.5 seasons. true, arena made the move but that was early in mls, plus the bruce is a unique fellow. a 35 year old coach at dc isn’t going to have a strong locker room presence, especially when things get rough.

  37. Bill says:

    My biggest knock on akron has been their scheduling–or lack thereof. but i’ve heard they are traveling to both UNC and Wake Forest next season. touche’ mr. porter, the college game is happy to have you.

  38. MVK says:

    “I don’t think DCU views the KC record as a defining statement about Onalfo’s ability as a coach. Wise? We’ll see.”

    From a KC supporter: its not so much the record but his in game decisions and where he puts people. Lets not kid anyone, the midfield was/is horrible in KC, but Onalfo screwed up everything around the midfield as well. Be ready for calls never going your way if he is the coach as well, he belittles officals constantly and in turn always ended up on the short end of the stick.

  39. Will says:

    why not just hire richie williams???

  40. Didier says:

    Doesn’t seem that surprising. I mean, his quotes never seemed like he was interested in leaving. He is 34 years old and has a great thing going for him in Ohio. A job at D.C. United would not last for more than a couple of years. He still has plenty of time to move up to the professional ranks.

    Props to him for following his heart here.

  41. madmax says:

    Told reporters he wasn’t ready to step down.

  42. DC Josh says:

    What do you think of United re-structering Emilio’s contract?

    My opinion is if they can cut it by 50% I wouldn’t mind keeping him, but don’t think he is going to give his all every game. We need to bring in some young guns this year and begin to transition from our aging roster. It wouldn’t hurt to let him go and at least bring in a young buck for a couple 100k ala Fredy Montero.

  43. DC Josh says:

    Agree, he would be under a ton of pressure in DC.

    I think the main concern he had was abandoning his players. He really seemed to have a connection with his players, and didn’t want to leave them.

    He’ll certainly be in the MLS after his contract is finished, unless somehow Akron falls off the map. It’s great to have a coach of his caliber at such a young age.

  44. Xander Crews says:

    Whatever, Bill. Akron plays anyone, anywhere. All you have to do is look at the ACC teams’ schedules to see they won’t stray far from home, if they ever do. Virginia played five games away from Charlottesville this year prior to the post-season, and two of those were a season opening tournament in Washington.

    (This trend extends far beyond soccer, by the way. ACC teams won’t leave the comfort of Tobacco Road to play anyone in lacrosse, bypassing games against northern powers like Syracuse and Cornell)

    ACC schools think they’re that good? Let’s see them go TO Akron.

  45. DC Josh says:

    Always gotta take jabs don’t ya.

    Salt in the wound.

  46. DC Josh says:

    He was just speaking of the depth of teams in ACC compared to ?MAC?

    It’s like the NFC West and NFC east (of last year).

    It would be interesting to see what Akron’s record was if they were in the ACC.

  47. Dennis says:

    Glad to see a coach, who told recruits they would have a chance to win a national championship, stand by the implied commitment that made. I would not be surprised if he has the best recruiting classes in college soccer in the next few years. Both parents and teenagers appreciate honesty more than you might expect. That means he should be able to get more extremely talented forwards and midfielders. Also, I would be surprised if the Zips don’t have a tougher schedule next year (and after).

    From a personal, lifestyle point of view, it is a no-brainer. How many MLS coaches have longevity (5 years with one team)? New England kept Steve Nicol, any others? Even Sigi Schmidt and Bob Bradley have been fired and Arena is on his 3rd team.

    College soccer is NOT about being a feeder system for MLS, and it should not be. If MLS wants a feeder system, MLS should finance it. The pros in europe do that and of course, FIFA had to instill some rules to prevent the teams from casting a wide net and then simply discarding young men without any skills (other than soccer) if they failed to make it to the next level. At least college soccer is honest in its role, it provides what is generally a good education and the chance for players to compete in a game they love. Colleges will never recruit many players who may not make it academically, at least not if those players cannot provide a box-office draw to offset the cost of running the program. With the cost of a “full-ride” at almost any school in excess of $20,000 (and 9.9 full-rides) it is clear no soccer player satisfies the box-office draw criterion.

    Good for Porter. DC should get it over with and hire Williams.

  48. K Bone says:

    Actually yes, ACC schools are that good, and they can prove it. I believe they had 3 out of 4 teams in the semis the past two years, and UVA did of course win the whole thing this year. Are you saying they aren’t that good? However, I do find your comment about the away games interesting. I looked at their schedule, and they actually played six away games, but I agree, that is pretty crazy. But I guess if teams are willing to travel to them, why wouldn’t you agree to play a home game? It’s not like it’s hurting their chances for a championship…

  49. Beckster says:

    DC Josh, I’d be in favor or United re-structering Emilio’s contract. a 50% pay cut seems appropriate. He still scores more goals a year than most strikers in MLS and that is worth keeping around. If we cut his salary in half, don’t have the Gomez, Olsen and maybe some other higher paids, we will have the money to go out and try to get some stronger talent.

  50. Plug 713 says:

    I agree with the comments from Dennis. It looks like Caleb Porter is a class act; he will have other offers from MLS teams in the future. DC United are a mess right now, anyway. I let my season tickets go two seasons ago and don’t regret the decision. The front office has lost the script. Porter probably sees that and factored it into his decision-making process. No new stadium, bad decisions concerning personnel (releasing Brian Carroll and Bobby Boswell; signing the latest South American mystery player of the month), and now looking at Curt Onalfo as the new head coach all serve to highlight just how much trouble the franchise is in. Kevin Payne needs to get a grip.

  51. JoeW says:

    I’ve heard two stories: that Porter said he’d talk to DCU and then changed his mind and signed the new contract with Akron and that DCU made him an offer and he turned them down and signed with Akron.

    As for paying Emilio 50%–what a crazy idea. Paying Emilio 50% of his 2009 salary still makes him a DP player. Why cut him 50% in that case since he still has the same cap hit and still ties up your DP slot? You either cut him to below DP status (say….$250k) or you pay him DP money more or less or you let him go (which is what I think will happen).

  52. GM says:

    Ray Hudson left after two years, but you are right that “revolving door” is an overstatement.

  53. kevin says:

    word blitzkrieg

  54. Jeremy says:

    Porter answered Ives’ question already [Read closely]: “…with upgrades to the facility on the horizon I am confident we have all the resources necessary to continue competing for national championships for many years to come.”

    Ahem. Translation: I’ve been to DCU’s irredeemable, soulless megadome and saw my own professional grave.

  55. modernsimian says:

    As a Galaxy Supporter and MLS supporter since 96′ this year more than any other year proved that DC should definitely look for someone that knows the league. We proved in LA that bringing in a “Big Name” coach like Gullit was utter suicide, not to mention having an idiot like Lalas calling the shots. Bruce Arena is living proof that experience in the league and it’s unique workings is everything in MLS. Maybe Onalfo would good for DC instead of someone that has no prior MLS coaching experience and has very little time to acclimate and have a proper squad for the 2010 season.

  56. carol says:

    I agree about Richie!! He does not urinate on the potted plants or paw anyone’s daughter. Kevin Payne is just being dumb!
    Richie would work his ass off for the team! Players already respect him!!

  57. Johnny says:

    This incident suggests that Porter thinks of other people as opposed to just himself. He is a man of honor and is fulfilling his word and obligations to the University and his players. The goal is still a National Championship.

    It is nice to see a coach with such outstanding character. His teams professionalism is a reflection of him.