Following the sudden and unexpected departure men’s soccer coach Eddie Soto, questions arose surrounding the program’s future. The Athletic Department carried out a nationwide search for the next person to take the wheel of one of the most storied soccer programs in NCAA history. USF has won six national championships in its history and has produced eight Olympians and dozens of professional players.
On April 11, the future of the program became a bit clearer when the school announced that Leonard Griffin will become the sixth coach in program history.
Griffin grew up outside of Los Angeles, where he was a soccer standout at Littlerock High School. He went on to play collegiate soccer at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he won a national championship in 2002 and was named an NCAA All-American in 2003.
While playing for UCLA, Griffin also played for Orange County Blue Star, a now-defunct team in the Premier Development League. While playing for Blue Star, Griffin was teammates with German legend Jürgen Klinsmann. Klinsmann won the 1990 FIFA World Cup with West Germany and went on to manage a number of prominent teams, including the USA Men’s National Team from 2011-16.
After graduating from UCLA, Griffin was drafted 11th overall by the Chicago Fire in the 2004 MLS SuperDraft. He continued to play professionally for seven years, including stints with the Fire, the Portland Timbers and LA Galaxy among other clubs.
In 2013, Griffin shifted his focus to coaching. He became an assistant coach at UCLA, where he had won a national championship 11 years earlier. In his three seasons with the Bruins, they went 37-16-10, including two Division I NCAA Soccer Tournament appearances.
Griffin signed on as an assistant coach with the Portland Pilots program prior to the 2016 season. In his three seasons there, the Pilots went 33-16-6.
Griffin will take the helm of a Dons program that went 6-10-1 in 2018, a year after reaching the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2017. The Dons also said farewell to six seniors this past season.