Kitchen, Korb face off with their college coach
There is something about playing under Caleb Porter that never quite leaves you.
Perry Kitchen and Chris Korb will both face their college coach for the first time when D.C. United hosts the Portland Timbers on Saturday. Their connection with the man that led them at Akron, on both a personal and tactical level, is striking evidence of why he's considered one of the best young coaches in American soccer.
"He's just a guy you want to play for," said Kitchen, who played under Porter, 38, for one year at Akron and as a member of the U.S. under-23 team that missed the Olympics last year. "He's a players' coach. He wants to win so bad and sometimes he's like one of the guys. When we lose, he's just as pissed off as we are. He really cares about the guys, and when you see a coach that cares that much, it can light a fire under you and drive you."
|Timbers at United|
|When » Saturday, 7 p.m.|
|Where » RFK Stadium|
|TV » CSN|
Kitchen and Korb were both part of Akron's first national championship in any sport in 2010, the peak of a seven-year run that Porter finished with a 123-18-17 record. His .832 winning percentage is the fifth-highest all-time in collegiate soccer.
Korb was with Porter for the first four of six straight NCAA tournament appearances.
"As soon as you meet him, he's kind of an intense guy," Korb said. "Without him, I don't know if I'd be in MLS, so I owe a lot to him."
Akron's championship season was even more special because the year before, Porter guided the Zips to an undefeated season (23-0-1) but fell short of a national title against Virginia in a penalty shootout. It was enough to attract the attention of D.C. United, which tried to lure him to Washington. Instead, he waited another three seasons before making the leap to Major League Soccer.
In Portland, Porter has been matched up with one of the league's most passionate fan bases. He's also delivered right away, with the Timbers (4-1-7) arriving in Washington with a league-best 10-game unbeaten streak. He's got three former Zips on his roster -- Darlington Nagbe, Ben Zemanski and Michael Nanchoff -- and has coaxed a breakout season from former United first-round pick Rodney Wallace (three goals, two assists).
He's also brought his fearless attacking 4-3-3 formation with him across the country, a playing style that isn't expected to surprise D.C. United (1-8-2), which is hoping end a nine-game winless streak after snapping a seven-game losing slide last week.
"He's a guy that his teams want to be on the ball," Kitchen said. "They want to dictate the rhythm of the game. They want to be in possession. They want to possess the ball in your half of the field. He'll say they want to suffocate their opponents with pressure, ball movement and chances. ... I know what he's thinking right now. It's a great opportunity, and it'll be great to see him again."
United announced it will host Mexican club CD Guadalajara, also known as Chivas, in a friendly at RFK Stadium on July 12.