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Cipriani, Ryan Johnson Named FGCU Assistants

Published: March 30, 2017

FORT MYERS, Fla. – A former volunteer with the program and a talented professional player with international experience is what FGCU men’s soccer head coach Jesse Cormier has in new assistant coaches Sheldon Cipriani and Ryan Johnson, who began their tenures with the Eagles this week.

Cipriani re-joins the Green and Blue after serving as a volunteer assistant coach on the 2014 team which won ASUN regular season and tournament titles and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. A native of Trinidad and Tobago, Cipriani was most recently a United States Soccer Federation Development Academy Director, coaching Boys U13 through U18 with the Florida Rush Soccer Club in Orlando.

Johnson played professionally from 2006-16, spending seven of those years in Major League Soccer with Real Salt Lake, Chicago Fire, San Jose Earthquakes, Toronto FC and the Portland Timbers. His last MLS stop in Portland was arguably his most successful as the forward led the perennially-successful club with a team-best 10 goals en route to a 1st-place Western Conference finish in 2013. Internationally, Johnson has 40 caps with the Jamaica National Team and has tallied eight goals.

“It’s exciting for our program to welcome such a great person and coach. His approach is always in the spirit of the development of the player both as a tactician and technician. He always considers the bigger picture of helping mentor young men to become better, stronger people to achieve both collective team success and personal full potential in life. It’s a great honor and privilege to have such a knowledgeable, spiritual partner on this project and shared journey.”

“This hire is an excellent one for our program not just because of who Ryan Johnson is and what he has achieved as a player professionally and internationally, but also because of RJ’s drive to be a great young coach. He has an eagerness to give back to the game and impart his life’s work and professional experience into our student-athletes at FGCU. It’s also personally rewarding to have one of my former recruits and student-athletes come full circle to become a collegiate coach and mentor after a successful collegiate and professional playing career.”

Cipriani brings a wealth of coaching experience from the youth, amateur and collegiate levels throughout the state of Florida. In addition to his time with FGCU, he served as USF’s Director of Satellite Camps from 2010-12, overseeing the day-to-day operations of the camp and planning all sessions.

From 2014-15, Cipriani was the head coach of the Lee County Strikers in Fort Myers. That came on the heels of an eight-year tenure as the Director of Coaching and Player Development with the Gainesville Soccer Alliance.

Cipriani has served as a head and assistant coach in the Premier Development League – the top men’s amateur soccer organization in the United States. Cipriani was the head coach of VSI Tampa in 2013 and has had stints as an assistant coach with the Ocala Stampede in both 2012 and 2014. Cipriani helped guide the Stampede to a conference championship in their inaugural season in 2012, and a national semifinal appearance in 2014.

A 1994 alumnus of Coker College (Hartsville, S.C.), Cipriani graduated with a degree in Business Management and was named an Academic All-American.

“I’ve very grateful to coach Jesse for giving me the opportunity to work at FGCU,” said Cipriani. “I’m looking forward to carrying on a great tradition with this program which has already been built and also continuing to add to it.”

While Cipriani will be re-joining the Eagles, Johnson and Cormier will be re-uniting as Cormier was an associate head coach at Oregon State during Johnson’s freshman and sophomore seasons in 2002 and 2003. Recruited across the nation by Cormier, Johnson – a native of Jamaica who grew up in the Boston area – finished his career with the Beavers in 2005 with 18 goals and 30 assists for 66 points in 76 matches.

Johnson was selected 26th overall by Real Salt Lake in the 2006 MLS SuperDraft before being traded to the Chicago Fire later that summer. After stints oversees, Johnson returned to the MLS with the San Jose Earthquakes for the 2008 season. In 2009, Johnson was named the team MVP and its golden boot recipient after leading the Earthquakes in goals with 11.

Midway through the 2011 campaign, Johnson was traded to Toronto FC and made a profound impact, scoring 11 goals in just 12 matches. He followed that performance up with a dozen goals and five assists as he started all 31 games for Toronto FC in 2012 before landing with the Timbers for his final MLS season in 2013.

He started all four matches of the 2012 Canadian Championship, leading Toronto FC to a fourth-straight Voyager’s Cup and in the process was awarded the George Gross Memorial Trophy as the championship’s best player.

Johnson made his international debut with the Jamaican National Team in a friendly against the United States in 2006. He scored his first national team goal in 2010 against world power Argentina, and continued his strong play throughout 2010 and 2011, securing the game-winning goal versus Costa Rica and winning the Caribbean Cup with Jamaica. During the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup, Johnson was the team’s second-leading scorer. He participated in nine 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers for Jamaica, including a goal opposite Guatemala.

“I’d like to thank Jesse for allowing me this great opportunity,” Johnson said. “It’s nice to be reunited with someone who originally recruited me to college and then coached me. I’m excited for this next step in my soccer career, and I’m looking forward to getting started working with all of our student-athletes.”

Johnson and Cipriani will be joining Cormier – the former head coach at Vermont for 13 seasons and coming off an NCAA Tournament Second Round appearance of his own with the Catamounts – as FGCU looks to continue to ascend nationally.

“We are all grateful to FGCU and Athletic Director Ken Kavanagh and his administration for the amazing opportunity for us to come together, lead this amazing program and be a functioning unit of a truly special higher learning environment,” Cormier added.

FGCU reached record heights this past season as the Eagles secured a program-record 14 wins as part of a 14-4-3 overall record, a program-best 10-game winning streak in the middle of the season and a national ranking for the final nine weeks of the year, including a program-high #11 showing in the NSCAA Poll on Oct. 18 and a #20 final ranking – the highest in D-I history of any program at FGCU.

The Eagles advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in six seasons of eligibility courtesy of another ASUN Championship, and broke through to the Second Round for the first time after defeating USF in penalty kicks. The Green and Blue eventually fell just short in double overtime – while playing with only 10 men – against a North Carolina team which played in the College Cup.

For up-to-the minute information and a behind-the-scenes look at the FGCU men’s soccer program, follow on Twitter @FGCU_MSoccer, Instagram @FGCU_MSoccer, Facebook /FGCUMSoccer and YouTube /FGCUAthletics.

Jesse Cormier was hired in January 2017 to become just the 2nd head coach in program history. The head coach at Vermont for the previous 13 seasons, Cormier won 14 games with the Catamounts in 2016 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament Second Round. During his time with Vermont, Cormier guided the program to the America East Tournament in 12 of 13 seasons, making five title game appearances, winning two tournament crowns, claiming a regular-season championship and advancing to three NCAA tournaments, including a pair of Second Round appearances. Cormier has a 114-89-47 (.550 winning percentage) overall record as a head coach.

FGCU Athletics sponsors events throughout the year to benefit the FGCU Campus Food Pantry ( and the Harry Chapin Food Bank (, FGCU Athletics’ charities of choice. For more information, including how to make a contribution, please visit and utilize the hashtag #FeedFGCU to help raise awareness.

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