Pictured: Stanford assistant men’s soccer coach Charles Rodriguez (Photo courtesy of Stanford Athletics)
By SAM McGAW
When Charles Rodriguez was around 13 years old, he told his dad he wanted to be a soccer coach when he reached a point he couldn’t play the sport anymore.
On Friday, the Franklin native and Father Ryan alum will coach Stanford (17-2-2) against Akron (18-3-2) in the semifinals of the men’s soccer College Cup in Philadelphia.
“I love coaching and the relationships you can build and how you’re impacting young people’s lives,” said Rodriguez, who graduated from Father Ryan in 2008. “It’s something I wanted to do. For one, it was a sport I absolutely loved and started at a very young age. Then, I thought it was something I could be successful at.”
Rodriguez arrived at Stanford as a volunteer assistant coach in April of 2016, and he was promoted to a full-time role this past February. Last year, the Cardinal captured their second straight national title.
Before he jumped into coaching, Rodriguez played center back and was a team captain for current Stanford head coach Jeremy Gunn at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte from 2008-11. Rodriguez helped lead the 49ers to their first national finals appearance in 2011. He was named a Soccer America First-Team All-American that year.
In 2012, he was selected in the Major League Soccer Supplemental Draft by D.C. United. He went on to play for the Wilmington Hammerheads of the United Soccer League before returning to University of Charlotte to finish his degree in political science and criminal justice.
He then spent three years as an assistant coach at Xavier.
“I wanted to continue to grow and learn, and I had three good years at Xavier,” Rodriguez said. “I was fortunate to be working with a great staff there. I ended up joining the staff at Stanford in April of 2016. It’s been enjoyable. I love working with the guys here. Even the conversations we have every single day in the office are as enriching and fulfilling as one could imagine.”
Stanford opened the playoffs with a 4-1 win in penalty kicks against Pacific (13-4-2). It went on to secure 2-0 victories against Coastal Carolina (14-7-1) in the third round and top-seeded Wake Forest (19-2-2) in the quarterfinals.
“The team we have has had some success previously over the past couple of years, but just because you were successful in the past doesn’t mean you’re going to be successful in the future,” Rodriguez said. “We try to keep our guys as grounded as possible. We do well because we work our tails off. We can’t ever let those standards slip and not stay grounded.”
Stanford’s matchup against Akron begins at 6 p.m. E.T. It will be broadcast on ESPNU. The championship will be shown on ESPN 2 on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.