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

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photo by Tony Quinn/ISIphotos.com

By FRANCO PANIZO

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."

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67 Responses to Porter discusses plans as U.S. U-23 coach

  1. downintexas says:

    As much as I would love to see Jozy and Shea in the olympics they are USMNT starters. Give some other kids a shot with the U-23s unless there is no one else

  2. leftcoastmetro says:

    Disagree. This is the 2nd most important global tournament and one the US has a reasonable shot at. Bring in Brek, Jozy, Gatt and everyone else who’s in form, plus one of Donovan/Clint/Howard as the over age player. Go for the Gold!

  3. JJ says:

    Disagree. Big games are priceless to a young player’s growth. I want to see our best out there and Jozy and Shea are it. Anytime it’s a tournament I say play your best team available.

  4. Khan says:

    The Klinsmann effect is taking over quickly and it sounds like Porter buys into the philosophy as well.

  5. wilyboy says:

    I love listening to this man. He doesn’t BS about process, (the way Klinsmann kind of has to) but makes it clear that he’s putting a team together, one which is balanced and designed to win. Hope he has enough time, because he knows what he’s doing.

  6. T says:

    Hope he brings some hard work ethic to the team.

  7. Timber Dan says:

    So when can we expect a “preliminary” Olympic Squad projection from you Ives?

  8. marco says:

    USA, fast track Zakuani’s citizenship. He was a monster at Akron, a bloody scoring machine. Shea and Zak on the wings.

  9. Rory says:

    With only two Concacaf Olympic births we better get the
    Stars on the qualifying team

  10. abc says:

    I’m sure Obama will get right on that…

  11. abc says:

    What’s interesting stuff… moving on, WTF is this about Home Depot Center capacity being limited to 15k for Galaxy’s first playoff game???? Something to do with an agreement with CSU Dominguez Hills?

  12. che cazzo says:

    that 15k cap was part of the agreement Galaxy made with CSDH when they built stadium.They agreed to cap weeknight games as to not make too much noise and bother students in evening classes. its absolutely ridiculous but they agreed to it in the contract with CSDH!!!

  13. Edwin in LA says:

    I wouldn’t waste 1 of the overage player slots on a goalkeeper, not saying Howard is a waste or that he’s not worhty, but when we have 2 young guys fighting to be the #3 or possibly #2 if Guzan keeps riding the bench, we need to have 1 of those young guys start in as many important competitive and official games as possible. Hamid should be the keeper for the Olympic game and Johnson the back up, MacMath could be a very good choice for 3rd if they can take 3 which I think they are required to take 3 keepers like in FIFA tournaments.

    I think with Jozy, Agudelo, Bunbury, Gyau, Wood, Doyle/Salgado, Ruelas, Kelyn Rowe, Shea, Gil, Lletget, Renken, Hurzeler, Morales, Williams, Johnson, Kitchen, Garza, Hernandez, Boss, Chandler, Sarkodie etc etc we have a great pool. Not to mention Adu and other potential guys to play in the Olypmics, maybe George John or Omar Gonzalez can be overage players? I do feel a Donovan or Dempsey would help?

  14. Edwin in LA says:

    They need to rework that contract, it’s BS, CSU Dominguez Hills got an insane amount of benefits from that deal, money, sport facilities, ties to pro soccer team that have since helped them earn Div II soccer championships, etc etc

    Although I really don’t get how this is possible? The return leg would be at home for the Galaxy, oh wait they’re doing this weird thing were they play the initial game on the weekend before Halloween and then the 2nd leg the following Wednesday & Thursday and the Conference Championships that following weekend, guess they’re trying to give FIFA room for the official FIFA date?

    I hope they make this one of the exceptions in the year, that place better have 30K as far as I’m concerned?

  15. abc says:

    That is absolutely ridiculous… why would the agree to such a thing?

    Who owns the stadium, I assumed the Galaxy did. Maybe they need to move…

  16. Edwin in LA says:

    Yeah it stems from the fact that they got the land from CSU Dominguez Hills. It was joint venture when you consider that entire complex is on land that belonged to CSU

  17. T says:

    Please refrain from unnecessary political comments on a soccer forum, thank you.

  18. jmac says:

    Is Porter coaching both Akron and the U-23s?

  19. downintexas says:

    @JJ and leftcoast

    Normally I would agree with you all. But if olympic qual. and Olympic games interupt 1st team play then they need to stay with the 1st team. Klinnsi is still trying to get his system to work. In order for it to work you need all the pieces playing together as often as possible. WC qual. is right around the corner. We have to get some of the kinks out before then.

  20. downintexas says:

    Yes

  21. Andrew says:

    I hope Luis Gil is put on this team.

  22. Edwin in LA says:

    I second that, I think that kid may be the key to our national teams future, more so for the cycle leading up to and in the World Cup 2018 when maybe Donovan, Dempsey and for sure Gooch and Boca won’t be around.

  23. abc says:

    WTF? That wasn’t a political comment, it was a comment on how the US government doesn’t “fast track citizenship” for athletes. See Andy Najar. Obama just happens to be president at this time.

  24. Louis Z says:

    I don’t know, a qualifier should have more weight than a friendly. The trump card here is for those that are starting in league games, coaches don’t have to release them.

  25. Paul Thomas says:

    Eh? I think you’ve confused the men’s and women’s games.

    The Confederations Cup is, for men, a significantly more important global tournament than the Olympics.

    (Not that I disagree with the sentiment of trying to build the best team possible.)

  26. Paul Thomas says:

    FIFA qualifiers are not played in July. There’s essentially no risk of overlap between Olympic and WCQ games.

  27. Paul Thomas says:

    Really?

    I’m only reading the soundbites, obviously, but this:

    “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.”

    doesn’t make it sound like the team is “designed to win” to me. Sure sounds like they’ll play a worse (but “higher ceiling”) player over a better one if it’ll supposedly help with “developing” him.

  28. Jamie Z. says:

    It wasn’t an “unnecessary political comment,” it was a lighthearted joke. Deep breath. Exhale.

  29. Lost in Space says:

    By 2018 Donovan, Dempsey, Gooch, Boca, Goodson, and many of the players in the current US player pool will be retired from international play. I wouldn’t be supprised if 2 of your 4 players weren’t on the 2014 WC squad.
    By 2018 we should expect there to be something like 40% or less from the current squad. Only players currently 22/23 or younger will likely be in contention for the 2018 WC.

  30. primoone says:

    No offense to recent collegiate athletes however, I hope I don’t see more than 3-4 of them on the final Olympic roster.

  31. abc says:

    Even that would be too high considering the number of US-eligible players we have from decent leagues in Europe (primarily Bundesliga) and of course MLS. Guys like Luis Gil, who is only 18 but already contributing to one of the better MLS teams at RSL, are nowhere near sure things to make this team, same with Fabian Hurzeler who is for Bayern Munich U-23s. How could ANY American college soccer player be above guys like that?

    0-1 college players, if there is someone exceptional at a position of need, TOPS.

  32. abc says:

    He didn’t say “for the US” and for many countries (especially non-elite European ones that have no chance of making it to the Confederations Cup) the Olympics are the bigger deal. In any case, at worst it’s one of the big four tournaments each cycle that we should care about, although I too would rank it third (ahead of the post-WC Gold Cup).

  33. abc says:

    FYI, just one person’s guess, but the extremely knowledgeable Brian Sciaretta at Yanks Abroad does not have Luis Gil on his 18 man Olympic roster…
    It could go either way, but he’s definitely in that 15-23 range so it will be a close call.

  34. Sorry, Jozy will be sleeping & too tired to show up on time for the olympic games…oh wait….sorry he believes he’s training that way….what a waste….million dollar talent with a ten cent head

  35. just like he did for his aunt living here illegally?

  36. biff says:

    Totally agree with that sentiment. Shea, Jozy and especially Chandler are highly qualified professional players and starters on the USMNT and should not be taking spots on the Olympic team from young players in need of international experience. Agudelo is a different story. He is not a club starter and has not yet done anything to prove he deserves a regular spot on the USMTN. It is time for him to be left off the USMNT roster and put on the Olympic team to finally either prove himself–or not. I do not understand why Klinsmann keeps selecting him for the team and putting him on the field in the second half. I hope in November he is on the U-23 team and experienced forwards, such as Chris Rolfe, are given a chance to win a spot on the USMNT.

  37. Tim F. says:

    Caleb Porter is a great coach; this is going to be fantastic.

  38. Edwin in LA says:

    Um maybe that’s why I said maybe won’t be around, because they will have retired from either International play or from Soccer altogether???

  39. that one would be an unnecessary political comment. Totally valid to point out that the US doesn’t fast-track athletes. It’s not a political thing they just don’t do it.

  40. Is that the plan going forward or is he going to resign from Akron after the season to run the U-23s?

  41. wilyboy says:

    Give the man some credit.

    We’ve got some truly talented, but often ego centric players who don’t quite know need to be molded to a strategic plan. It’s too late to develop anything but strategy, work on first touch and chemistry. He wouldn’t be hired if he didn’t know how to make players perform better, and the idea that he can’t choose talent flies in the face of his record (Zakuani, Nagbe, Kitchen, Valentin, he knows how to pick ‘em AND train them).

    If development is a curse word to you, chillax. Porter knows that if he succeeds at this level in a significant way, he’s being groomed for the big time.

  42. robert daniels says:

    Funny when the comments are anti republican and/or tea party then fair game, but someone say something about the messiah…

  43. Predicto says:

    Agree – his quotes are straight & clear without the filler.

  44. robert daniels says:

    I’d like to see him do more with his club team like the likes of gatt and wood before we give him a starting role with the u-23′s though I agree with you guys he is the future, just let him earn it.

  45. Yaznasty says:

    Porter is a half season into a ten year contract, I don’t believe he will be leaving Akron just yet.

  46. GW says:

    I guess you’d have to ask JK how he sees the Olympics.

    If he already has his eye on three of four players ( Mixx, Gatt, etc.) who may be featuring in the USMNT very soon then it makes sense to have one or two young vets around like Adu, Jozy or whoever to let MIxx, Gatt and the others experience what the big boys expect. That, supposedly, was one of the ideas when they sent in McBride last time.

    On the other hand, if JK is looking at it more to give much needed international experience to the players and, don’t forget, Porter, then maybe only a guy like Agudelo gets in there. It can’t hurt to push him and see how Agudelo responds to a little pressure to lead.

    And if this is an audition for Porter as the second member of the father,son and holy ghost troika as has been suggested elsewhere, then this could well be the basis of the team he eventually takes over.

    I suspect JK sees it as a combination of both those things.

    It’s all good.

  47. GW says:

    “doesn’t make it sound like the team is “designed to win” to me. Sure sounds like they’ll play a worse (but “higher ceiling”) player over a better one if it’ll supposedly help with “developing” him.”

    You may be making too much of it.

    This sort of decision, ” Tommy is a better player right now but Eddie has a much greater upside” happens in all sports all the time. The only time you don’t run into it is when you get into knock out, play off sudden death situation where there is no tomorrow.

    College coaches, like Porter, in particular, have to think about “Do I play the senior who is better or do I give my hot shot sophomore the experience?”

    Which may be why Porter’s experience is helpful here.

  48. The Zips says:

    “Death by a Thousand Passes”

  49. GW says:

    U-23 jobs are basically part time employment.

    I doubt Porter is getting rich off of this.

  50. Grant says:

    Anyone know when qualifying begins for the Olympic team?

  51. Alex G says:

    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.

  52. Northzax says:

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

  53. Cromulent says:

    O has to take care of family members first.

  54. Paul Thomas says:

    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.

  55. OC says:

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

  56. OC says:

    +1 Great post

  57. Jackal says:

    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.

  58. pd says:

    and they haven’t earned a shot at an olympic medal?

  59. Juan from L.A. says:

    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.

  60. Aaron in StL says:

    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

  61. Brian says:

    oh shut the f*ck up

  62. Ryan in NY from NC says:

    I think the concern is more about time and less about money.

  63. Paul Thomas says:

    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.

  64. Paul Thomas says:

    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).

  65. Paul Thomas says:

    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.

  66. GW says:

    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.

  67. Matt says:

    When asked what Porter’s uniform philosophy would be, he said “I’m for them.”