University of Akron soccer fans can watch former Zips coach Caleb Porter make his professional coaching debut on television.
Porter will coach his first Major League Soccer match at 7:30 p.m. Sunday when the Portland Timbers host the New York Red Bulls on ESPN2.
MLS kicks off its 18th season with six matches today and three matches Sunday.
There are 21 players in MLS with a local connection, including 20 that Porter coached during his seven-year tenure at UA. Four former UA players are on Porter’s roster in Portland: Ben Zemanski, Michael Nanchoff, Darlington Nagbe and David Meves.
Nanchoff said he has seen the same level of intensity in training from Porter as a pro coach when compared to his college coaching days.
When asked if he saw any difference in Porter’s personality, he said: “Honestly, no. We were talking about this amongst former Akron players. He is pretty much the same person on and off the field. That is nice to see. He is not trying to be something that he is not. He knows the game and who he is.”
Porter guided UA to six NCAA Tournament appearances and a national championship in 2010. Nanchoff was a member of that Zips team and said he is enjoying being reunited with his college coach and three former Akron teammates.
“This experience has definitely been great,” Nanchoff said. “It is always nice, no matter where you go, to recognize familiar faces, especially ones that have been your friends dating back to when you were in college. It is also an advantage because we know each other. ... I think it is a good thing for chemistry purposes.”
The Columbus Crew and Montreal Impact both have three former Zips. Ben Speas, Chad Barson and Wil Trapp are members of the Crew. Sinisa Ubiparipovic, Evan Bush and Zarek Valentin are members of the Impact.
Former Zips Steve Zakuani and DeAndre Yedlin are with the Seattle Sounders, Chris Korb and Perry Kitchen are with D.C. United and Blair Gavin and Scott Caldwell are with the New England Revolution.
Kofi Sarkodie (Houston Dynamo), Teal Bunbury (Sporting Kansas City), Darren Mattocks (Vancouver Whitecaps) and Dillon Serna (Colorado Rapids) are the other three former players who starred at UA under Porter and now make a living in MLS.
The final local connection in MLS is Josh Williams of the Columbus Crew. Williams is a product of Copley High School and Cleveland State University.
Zemanski and Speas are Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy graduates. Nanchoff is a Walsh Jesuit High School graduate.
Former UA player Anthony Ampaipitakwong is playing professionally in Thailand after playing in MLS for the San Jose Earthquakes.
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.