U.S. player pool
former Head Coach: U.S. National Team. Born: January 19, 1957, in Salt Lake City, Utah. Hometown: Agoura Hills, Calif.
Steve Sampson became the first American-born coach to qualify the U.S. National Team into a World Cup finals when he guided the USA to a berth in the 1998 World Cup finals after finishing first in the semifinal round of qualifying for the 1998 World Cup in France. The U.S. finished CONCACAF qualifying with an 8-2-6 mark to advance to the 32-team finals in France.
Sampson was appointed head coach of the U.S. National Team Aug. 2, 1995, after holding the interim position from April 14, 1995. He was one of three assistant coaches under previous head coach Bora Milutinovic on the 1994 World Cup Team, and had been a U.S. National Team Assistant Coach since Jan. 20, 1993. He has coached in more than 100 matches for the USA, as an assistant and head coach.
As interim coach, Sampson led the USA to a U.S. cup '95 title and to the semifinals of Copa America, defeating Nigeria, Chile, Argentina and Mexico twice. His greatest accomplishments included a memorable 1-0 win over defending World Cup champions Brazil in the semifinals of the 1998 CONCACAF Gold Cup, a 3-0 victory over Argentina in Copa America '95 (played in Uruguay, two miles from the Argentina border), a 0-0 World Cup qualifying tie vs. Mexico in Mexico City with just 10 men for the final 58 minutes (USA's record in Mexico City prior to game was 0-17-0), and a 4-3 comeback win over Saudi Arabia (greatest comeback victory in U.S. National Team history where the U.S. scored four unanswered goals in the final 55 minutes).
Off the field, Sampson's greatest accomplishment has been the campaign he initiated to embrace the Hispanic community to support the "El Equipo para Todos," meaning everyone's team. For example, when the U.S. plays El Salvador, all other Hispanic groups should support the USA. The campaign has already succeeded as Hispanic attendance, media coverage and atmosphere at U.S. games has increased. In the months leading up to the 1994 World Cup, Sampson was assigned the task of scouting Colombia, the USA's second opponent in Group A. His tactical preparation of the U.S. team played a major role in the 2-1 victory over Colombia, which earned the United States a berth in the Round of 16. Prior to joining the national team coaching staff, Sampson served as vice president / competition management for World Cup USA 1994, and was a member of the Organizing Committee since 1990. He was named to the National Teams Committee and was co-chairman of U.S. Soccer's Coaching Committee until 1991.
He guided Santa Clara to the 1989 NCAA Division I co-championship, earning National Coach of the Year honors. During five seasons at Santa Clara his teams compiled a 64-19-19 record, with the 1989 squad finishing the season undefeated (20-0-3), with the No. 1 ranking in two national polls and winning the NCAA co-championship with Virginia. To date, it is Santa Clara's only national championship in school history. Sampson served as an assistant at UCLA from 1982-85, and was on staff when the Bruins won the 1985 NCAA title, its first of four soccer championships. His coaching experience includes a stint as an assistant at Foothill Community College, in Los Altos Hills, Calif.
A graduate of San Jose State, he played collegiate soccer at Foothill, UCLA, and San Jose State. As a player, he earned All-America honors at Foothill, helping his team to the '76 state championship. He then earned a master's degree in education from Stanford University. Sampson, who speaks fluent Spanish, minored in the language at SJSU, but mastered Spanish when he taught English to 50 Mexican-American children each summer for five consecutive years during college. Sampson, his wife, Sheri, and their three children, Brandon, Emily, and Trevor, reside in Agoura Hills, Calif.