American soccer needs more Caleb Porters. The 34-year-old head coach of the University of Akron’s men’s soccer team is a winner. Period. The 2009 Zips matched the longest single-season win streak in NCAA history, but Akron lost the national championship game on a penalty kick. “We’re not going to celebrate [the season] as monumental,” Porter told his team afterward. No banquets. No parades. “Programs that do that are programs that think it’s never going to happen again.” Porter even turned down a job as head coach for Major League Soccer’s D.C. United and re-upped with Akron through 2014. Here’s what he learned along the way.
> People in this country, they want to win. ... Initially, we couldn’t compete with the rest of the world. The general fan had a hard time with that.
> If you understand the game and can appreciate the skill, then you just get it, and you watch it, and it just warms your soul. It is a beautiful game.
> We’ve recruited 12 honors students in the last four years. I don’t buy the fact that you can’t do both.
> Some of the best games I’ve ever watched have been 0-0.
> A winner is someone who, each and every day, tries to become the best that they can be. It seems like a very simple thing, but I think very few people do that.
> Ultimately, the most important thing is the team.
Akron is a finalist for the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission’s Collegiate Athlete of the Year award, which will be handed out Feb. 3. clevelandsports.org