|Previous College:||Stanford, 1981|
Steve Sampson, former manager of the United States Men's National Team and Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Galaxy, is in his fourth year as head coach of the Cal Poly men’s soccer program.
Sampson’s historic first season in charge in 2015 – during which Cal Poly matched a program record with 11 victories and reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time in seven years – sparked a three-year run in which the Mustang program has produced 23 victories, 14 All-Big West Conference selections, three Major League Soccer SuperDraft selections, seven players signing professional contracts, a 16-5-4 record at home inside Alex G. Spanos Stadium and just one defeat to rival UC Santa Barbara in six meetings.
The 2017 Cal Poly squad, which closed the season with a 4-1 home victory versus UC Santa Barbara, matched a program record by winning five successive matches from Sept. 10-28 and set a new program mark by allowing just 70 shots on goals. Two years ago, Cal Poly handed No. 6 UCLA a 1-0 defeat inside Spanos Stadium.
Aside from reaching the 2015 NCAA Tournament and winning 11 times, Sampson’s initial season on the Spanos Stadium touchline produced a high of No. 20 in the NSCAA Division I Poll and a program record eight All-Big West honorees.
Among the seven players to have signed a professional contract under Sampson, defender Kip Colvey (currently with Colorado Rapids) – selected 49th overall in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft – became the first former Cal Poly player to appear in a FIFA tournament when competing for his native New Zealand at the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia. Forward Justin Dhillon, meanwhile, won the 2017 Golden Boot honor as top scorer with LA Galaxy II.
One of the most accomplished coaches in the history of American soccer, Sampson managed the United States at the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France and directed LA Galaxy to the 2005 Major League Soccer Cup title. Among other notable assignments during more than three decades of coaching and teaching, Sampson has served as the Costa Rica Men's National Team manager (2002-04) and as an assistant with the United States Men's National Team for the 1994 FIFA World Cup after also directing Santa Clara to an undefeated record during its NCAA Division I national championship run.
Sampson, who has enjoyed coaching success at every level between junior high school and the international game, arrived at Cal Poly in December 2014 from the Camarillo-based Eagles Soccer Club, where he served as the executive director and technical director overseeing 44 youth teams and nearly two dozen coaches. Sampson also serves as president of Global Sports Institute, which operates the Steve Sampson Soccer Academy and serves as a soccer consulting agency.
Fluent in Spanish, Sampson has served as an on-camera analyst for Time Warner Cable Deportes (Southern California) and Televisa Deportes (Mexico) for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, 2012 UEFA European Championship, CONCACAF World Cup qualifying matches and various international friendlies. He joined Fútbol de Primera radio as a color commentator for the 2016 Copa América Centenario in the United States and 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. He remains the only American-born person to have served as a soccer analyst on Mexican television.
Named LA Galaxy manager on Aug. 18, 2004, Sampson directed the club to that year's MLS Western Conference finals. A year later, Sampson became just the third manager to guide a club to both the MLS Cup and the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in the same season.
As the Costa Rica Men's National Team manager (2002-04), Sampson led the country to the second round of CONCACAF World Cup qualification in 2004 and the 2003 UNCAF Nations Cup championship (a competition for Central American countries). Also serving as technical director for all of the country's national teams, Sampson helped Costa Rica qualify for the 2004 Olympic Summer Games and the 2003 FIFA U-17 World Championship in Finland.
With his Costa Rica managerial appointment, Sampson became the first American-born coach to manage a national team outside of the United States.
From 1999-02, Sampson served as the technical director for California Youth Soccer Association South, overseeing the selection and development of youth players in the largest association in the United States (Cal South features more than 100,00 registered players). During his time with Cal South – which regularly placed players on Olympic Development Program sides and youth national teams – the organization produced seven national championships.
Appointed interim manager of the United States Men's National Team in April 1995, Sampson immediately led the Americans to a fourth-place finish at the 1995 Copa America, a run that included a 3-0 romp past Argentina. Promoted to the full-time managerial position, Sampson then helped the United States qualify for an unprecedented third successive World Cup Finals appearance with the Americans losing just one match during the qualification process.
On the way to the World Cup, the United States topped Brazil 1-0 in the 1998 Gold Cup semifinals, a victory that helped Sampson become the only American manager with victories against both Brazil and Argentina in competitive play.
With the United States, Sampson created the "El Equipo para Todos" campaign to promote and help recognize the men's national team as "Everyone's Team" in Hispanic communities. Through this endeavor, his managerial positions with the United States and Costa Rica national teams and his continued work on Spanish-language television, Sampson remains one of the more recognizable coaching figures in North, Central and South America.
Sampson's tenure with the United States Men's National Team began in 1993, when he was named an assistant coach on Bora Milutinovic's staff in preparation for the 1994 World Cup in America. With Sampson on the bench, the United States reached the knockout phase of the World Cup for the first time since 1930, losing 1-0 to Brazil in the round of 16.
In the buildup to the 1994 World Cup, Sampson served as the vice president for competition on the organizing committee and as the Chairman of the United States National Team Committee.
As head coach at Santa Clara (1986-90), Sampson compiled a 64-19-19 record with the crowning achievement coming during the 1989 season as the Broncos finished 20-0-3 en route to capturing the first and only NCAA Division I title by a men's program in university history. For his coaching efforts, Sampson was named both NSCAA and ISAA National Coach of the Year and West Coast Conference Coach of the Year. Sampson, who enjoyed four winning seasons in five years at Santa Clara, also directed the Broncos to the 1990 NCAA Tournament.
No stranger to NCAA Tournament success, Sampson – prior to his five seasons at Santa Clara – was an assistant coach with UCLA and helped guide the Bruins to the 1985 NCAA championship.
A competition director and outlying site coordinator for the football tournament at the 1984 Olympic Summer Games, Sampson was also an assistant coach at Foothill Junior College (Los Altos, Calif.), where he helped the Owls to the 1980 and 1981 state championships.
Sampson earned his master's degree in education from Stanford and a bachelor's degree in human performance from San Jose State.
Sampson and wife, Sheri, have three children: Brandon, Emily and Trevor.