While working as an intern in the operations department of the New York Red Bull, Mike Porter knew he wanted to work in Major League Soccer.
So when an opportunity came about to become the equipment manager of the Houston Dynamo, the Highland graduate literally dropped everything and headed to Texas.
“Oh man, the move was crazy,” Porter said. “I threw everything I had in my car and drove 20 hours. It was a pretty crazy experience.
“When I got there I hit the ground running with preseason, and our second trip of the year was to Cancun, but it’s been a great experience. I’m definitely glad I came.”
The Granger Township native and former Hornets soccer standout is in his third season with the Dynamo, which currently sits in fifth place in the Eastern Conference.
While the change in scenario was a major adjustment, Porter also had to adapt from working on the operations side to the day-to-day duties of making sure the team is properly equipped.
“It was a little more complicated than I thought it would be,” he said. “From figuring out to transport equipment to purchasing, all the behind-the-scenes things I had to learn how to do.”
No matter what day it is, Porter is busy tying up all the loose ends for players in terms of jerseys, shoes and other equipment needed to compete in the MLS.
A typical day starts with him arriving at 7:30 a.m., at which time he proceeds to get each player’s jersey, shorts and training kits out, along with any other supplies the coaching staff may need for that day’s practice.
When training begins, he does anything the coaches may need before heading back to the club’s facility in the afternoon to repair any broken equipment, do laundry and gett on the computer to check on orders.
While it’s not the most glamorous of jobs at times, working for the biggest soccer league in the United States has allowed Porter to have experiences most followers of the sport would die to have.
“I definitely have fun,” he said. “When I was working in New York, I gave David Beckham a ride back to his team bus and it was one of those moments where I was like, ‘Wow, this is really cool.’
“Sometimes our goalkeeping coach (Tim Hanley) will come over to me and say, ‘This is your job. It’s not so bad.’”
On game days, Porter gets a front-row seat at the end of the Dynamo bench to watch the sport played at the highest level.
The 25-year-old has been involved with the sport since he was 5 and went on to be a standout goalkeeper for the Hornets. He then played four years for Malone University, serving as captain the last two.
Porter still plays in an indoor soccer men’s league with other staffers from the Houston club, but none of that prepared him for something that happened recently.
“We have three keepers on our roster and were down to one active, so I got to play in our two training sessions,” said Porter, who noted it was the second time he’s had to step in and play. “It was awesome for me, but it made me super nervous. There is a reason why they’re pros and definitely a reason I’m not.”
While being the manager is nice, Porter would like to move back to the operations side of the business in the next couple of years. Ideally, he’d like to be in charge of the production of a game he has enjoyed his entire life.
Porter, who will return to Ohio on Sept. 14 when the Dynamo travels to Columbus to take on the Crew, was a business administration and sports management student at Malone and did an internship in New York.
Little did he know he would make a living at the sport he loves.
“Not in a million years,” Porter said. “I always had a long-term goal to work in pro soccer, but I got this job totally out of luck. It’s surreal sometimes and it’s pretty neat.”
Contact Dan Brown at email@example.com.
Porter keeps Dynamo running