If Caleb Porter proved anything, it’s that the college game’s coaching ranks are stocked with coaches capable of making the step to the pros.
Porter wasn’t the first former college coach to win an MLS Cup in 2015. Former Virginia coach Bruce Arena has done it multiple times with D.C. United and the LA Galaxy. Bob Bradley coached Princeton for 11 years. Bob Gansler led Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the 80’s. Sigi Schmid (UCLA) and Steve Sampson (Santa Clara) also started in the college game.
But Porter represented a modern departure. He was the first of a younger breed to emerge from college and stamp his mark on the pro game, and he did it emphatically. It hasn’t exactly opened the floodgates for college coaches to join the league behind him, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other worthy coaches toiling in the college game.
These are my five most exciting college coaches who, by my estimation, would hit the ground running in MLS. Whether by dint of coaching style, winning mentality or personnel savvy, all five have the stuff to follow in Porter’s footsteps one way or another. And, in some cases, perhaps even surpass him.
Note that I’ve compiled this list irrespective of personal ambition. Some (maybe all) of these coaches could have zero desire to join MLS down the road. But that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be smashing successes at the next level. And to head this off at the pass, no, I did not include Sasho Cirovski. The man is as ingrained on the eyelids of the college soccer landscape as the programs themselves. If Cirovski ever left the college game for MLS, I’d be the most surprised man in the country.