Caleb Porter calls him his right hand man, but starting in December, Jared Embick will be a man on his own.
Last week, Akron turned over the keys to the castle to Embick after a nation-wide search to find Porter’s replacement led back to the Zips bench.
Porter, who is moving on to coach the Portland Timbers in MLS at the end of this college season, hired Embick, the current associate head coach for the Zips, after Porter’s first season as a head coach at the Ohio school. Six years later, the coaching brain trust has put into practice a visually pleasing style of play that transgressed the typical bruising college game.
Now with Embick taking over the reins, he is reassuring Akron fans that nothing is going to change with a new leader.
“The playing style will remain the same,” Embick told TopDrawerSoccer.com over the phone on Wednesday. “The goal is to continue to improve on it. We will continue with the same formula of going overseas and observing the best clubs.”
Embick and Porter, as part of the adidas International Training Program, have spent a considerable amount of time in Spain recently with a trip to Madrid in 2011 and a stop in Barcelona and Bilbao in 2012.
Those trips have helped both men continue to improve on the “death by 1000 passes” philosophy the Zips made famous over the years.
“The expectations are here year in and year out. We are #2 in the nation this week, and it is not a big deal around here. They expect you to be one or two,” Embick said about the biggest challenge of taking over at Akron. “It is difficult, but we are going to keep it going.”
The Zips are used to losing players in the offseason, as it has been a hotbed for MLS scouts over the years. This offseason is not expected to be any different with four senior starters and a couple of Home Grown targets expected to make the leap to MLS in the offseason.
“We did a good job forecasting what might happen,” Embick said. “There are some guys who may or may not go depending on how the season ends . . . you never know for sure. We have been through it so much. The plan is in place.
“No one on the team likes to think about this, but as a coach, you have to keep it in mind.”
The day when it reads Head Coach Jared Embick on his door is still in the distance, and that is fine with the humble leader who is mainly focused on how to end this season with another title and raise expectations even more.
“We control our own destiny in terms of a top four seed [for the NCAA Tournament],” he added about this season. “With our crowd and the AK-Rowdies student group, we will have the best path to the Final Four.”