MLS and college soccer have been intertwined since the league’s inception in 1996. Thousands of players have navigated the path successfully from college to MLS, with many going on to enjoy lengthy careers and win numerous trophies as professional.
A handful of those collegiate stars, after stints of varying length and impact in MLS, have jumped into the coaching ranks via one route or another. With the college season starting this weekend, here’s a look at some former MLS players currently in charge of college programs across the country:
Todd Yeagley, Indiana (Columbus Crew, 1996-2002)
One of the most accomplished players to transition into the collegiate coaching ranks, Yeagley has helped rebuild the program his dad, Jerry, steered for 30 years. He made more than 100 appearances in midfield and defense for the Crew.
Jamie Clark, Washington (San Jose Clash, 1999-2001)
The Scottish defender enters his first season as the coach of Washington, taking the job after a successful stint at Creighton. Played consistently his rookie year for the Clash back in 1999 before injuries forced him into early retirement.
Jorge Salcedo, UCLA (LA Galaxy 1996, Columbus Crew 1997, Chicago Fire 1998, Tampa Bay Mutiny 1998-99, LA Galaxy 1999-2000)
A league original, Salcedo was a journeyman during his five years in the league, playing for four different teams. In 1999, he was traded back to the Galaxy in exchange for current FC Dallas captain Daniel Hernandez. He picked up a few caps for the US men’s national team along the way and, after retiring, transitioned into an assistant coaching role before becoming head coach in 2003.
John Kerr Jr., Duke (Dallas Burn 1996, New England Revolution 1996-97)
Kerr came to MLS after a playing career with stops in France, England and Ireland, and joined the Burn for the league’s inaugural year. After playing 12 games in Dallas, he was traded to New England, where he played out the rest of the 1996 season and all of 1997 before being waived in November. Kerr has been at the helm at Duke since 2007.
Caleb Porter, Akron (San Jose Clash 1998, Tampa Bay Mutiny 1999-2000)
Injuries limited Porter’s pro career, as he only made four appearances - all for the Clash - across three MLS seasons. Porter (pictured above) has steadily built Akron into one of the most prominent programs in the nation, and is looking to lead the Zips to a second straight national title this fall.
Kris Kelderman, Wisconsin-Green Bay (D.C. United 1996-97, Miami Fusion 1998, New England Revolution, 1999)
The Wisconsin native took the head coaching job back home in May of this year after serving as an assistant for George Mason, the Kansas City Wizards and D.C. United. He played four seasons in MLS, and won two MLS Cups with DC back in 1996 and 1997.
Clint Peay, Richmond (D.C. United 1996-2000)
The defender spent four seasons at D.C. United and won three MLS Cups before transitioning to a series of assistant coach roles at Davidson, George Mason and Georgetown. He was appointed head coach at the University of Richmond in January 2009 and is entering his third season in charge.
Paul Holocher, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (San Jose Clash 1996)
Another Clash pick in the inaugural draft, Holocher only played four games in the first season before getting waived in April 1997. After a head coaching stint at UC Santa Cruz, he took the Cal Poly job back in 2006.
Chaka Daley, Providence (New England Revolution 1999)
While working as an assistant in Providence — his alma matter — Daley signed with the Revolution in June 1999, appeared in two games and was released at the end of the season. A year later, he became head coach at Providence and is looking to compete in the Big East this fall.
Kevin Grimes, California (San Jose Clash 1996)
A former US national team player, Grimes was 29 when MLS began and was selected by the Clash in the inaugural player draft, but was waived right at the start of the season. After two years as an assistant at his alma mater, SMU, in the late ‘90s, Grimes took his current job prior to the 2000 season and is entering his 12th year in charge at Cal.
Mike McGinty, St. Louis (D.C. United 2002)
A goalkeeper drafted at the start of 2002, McGinty was a Supplemental pick who never started a game in goal for DC. He took over at St. Louis University in 2010.
George Gelnovatch, Virginia (D.C. United 1996)
The successor to Bruce Arena at UVa, Gelnovatch joined D.C. United for a brief loan stint at the tail end of his playing career and appeared twice in 1996.
Assistant Coaches: Aleksey Korol, University of Illinois at Chicago (Dallas Burn 2000-01, Chicago Fire 2002); Craig Waibel, Michigan (Colorado 2000, LA Galaxy 2001-02, San Jose Earthquakes 2003-05, Houston Dynamo 2006-10); Chris Gbandi, Connecticut (FC Dallas 2002-07); Bo Oshoniyi, Penn State (Columbus Crew 1996, Kansas City Wizards 2000-06); Brian Maisonneuve, Indiana (Columbus Crew 1996-2004)