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The United States has an Olympic soccer coach. An under-20 national team coach, too, and both are big names.
U.S. Soccer on Thursday announced that University of Akron head coach Caleb Porter, one of the finest minds in the American game, will serve as U-23 coach, taking the Americans through Olympic qualifying and, the hope is, to next year's London Games.
Former U.S. national team star Tab Ramos is the new U-20 coach.
The hires are among the most significant in the young Jurgen Klinsmann era, and they make a statement by bringing new blood into U.S. Soccer's top tier of coaches.
Porter, 36, a former Indiana University standout who played in four league games in three Major League Soccer seasons with San Jose and Tampa Bay, has built Akron into the nation's premier men's soccer program. The Zips are 100-15-12 mark in five-plus seasons under Porter, including a 10-2-2 record this year, and won the NCAA title last year after falling to underdog Virginia on penalty kicks in the 2009 final.
He has developed a dozen players for MLS in that span, including Seattle's Steve Zakuani, Sporting Kansas City's Teal Bunbury, and Chivas USA's Blair Gavin, Ben Zemanski and Zarek Valentin.
“I am honored and feel extremely privileged to be given this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to lead the U.S. under-23 national team,” Porter, who will continue as Akron's coach, said in a U.S. Soccer news release. “I'm eager to start the process of putting the pieces together in preparation for Olympic qualifying in March.”
Ramos, 45, who moved from his native Uruguay to New Jersey when he was 11, is one of the finest players in U.S. national team history, starring in the 1990, 1994 and 1998 World Cups and playing for clubs in Spain and Mexico before wrapping up a 14-year pro career with the MetroStars, now the New York Red Bulls. He was the first player signed by MLS in 2005.
Ramos was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2005, his first year of eligibility.
A top youth coach in New Jersey whom Klinsmann used as an assistant coach in his initial games as U.S. boss, Ramos made 81 international apperarances in 12 years with the national team.
“It is an honor for me to once again be representing the United States,” Ramos said in the release. “After ending my playing career, I've been working extremely hard to develop as a coach. I have had the opportunity to work with the youth national teams with some great coaches, and now I look forward to contributing in a much bigger way.”