John Murphy enters his fifth season as the head men's soccer coach at Georgia Southern University for the upcoming 2020 season. Murphy became the program’s seventh head coach on July 26, 2016.
In four short seasons, the Eagles have gained a reputation as one of the toughest teams in the Sun Belt, while steadily improving their out of conference schedule and results. And that toughness is displayed with Georgia Southern's home record in league play under Coach Murphy, where the Eagles are 5-2-2 in Sun Belt action at Eagle Field.
The 2019 season saw Georgia Southern go 7-9-2, notching Sun Belt wins over rival Georgia State and Appalachian State, while also collecting impressive non-conference wins away from home over UNC Wilmington, the College of Charleston and UAB, while earning a draw at South Carolina. Three different Eagles earned Player of the Week honors - Alhaji Tambadu, Adam Davie and Aldair Cortes - while the end of season accolades included the 2019 Sun Belt Conference's Newcomer of the Year in forward Azaad LIadi.
In 2018, Georgia Southern went 7-7-3 while achieving his highest season-ending program RPI (No. 75) since the NCAA began tracking the index. The Eagles featured the Sun Belt Conference's Offensive and overall Player of the Year in senior Javier Carbonell (school record-tying 15 goals, fifth in the nation). The Eagles advanced to the 2018 Sun Belt Conference Tournament Championship match, where eight of Georgia Southern's 11 starters were underclassmen. In addition to Carbonell's accolades, the Eagles also featured a pair of All-Conference performers in sophomore Gonzalo Talavera and freshman Samuel Mayer. Georgia Southern played the 40th toughest schedule in the nation as well, helping the Eagles achieve their program-best RPI.
In 2017, Georgia Southern finished with a 9-8-1 overall record, the first winning record for the Eagles since 2006. The program also earned United Soccer Coaches (formerly NSCAA) Southeast Region rankings for the first time since 2008, finishing the year ranked No. 10 in the region. Among the individual awards earned by Eagle players were two major Sun Belt honors - midfielder Javier Carbonell was named the Sun Belt Newcomer of the Year, while Aldair Cortes was named the Freshman of the Year. Both players earned All-Conference honors, along with second-team honorees Blake Wilson and Emil Laursen. Laursen was later named a first-team CoSIDA Academic All-American, the first time that a Georgia Southern men's soccer player has earned first-team Academic All-America honors.
A coaching veteran of more than 25 years, Murphy has 10 years of coaching experience in the professional ranks - including having coached in over 300 professional matches - and has served as an assistant coach at Boston College, Clemson and Brown. He was also a head coach at Anderson University (S.C.) (2012-13), Livingston Football Club (FC) (2009), Assumption College (1998-2000) and Massasoit Community College (1994), his alma mater. He was twice named the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) New England Coach of the Year, in 1994 and again in 2000, and was the 2016 Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year.
Murphy has guided his teams to four conference titles and has developed three players who earned Freshman of the Year honors, one Defender of the Year honor, two Newcomer of the Year honors, one Offensive Player of the Year honor as well as a Player of the Year honor. His Massasoit team earned the 1994 National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) National Academic Male Team award for highest GPA and Assumption College won the 2000 Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division II championship. Murphy also helped guide the 2014 and 2015 BC Eagles, and the 2017-18 Georgia Southern squads, to the United Soccer Coaches (formerly NSCAA) College Team Academic award for Division I teams with a 3.0 or better GPA.
In 2009, he became the first American citizen to work in British professional soccer as a coach when he was hired by Livingston FC of the Scottish First Division. During that time, he worked with current standout players Leigh Griffiths (Celtic), Andy Halliday (Rangers) and Murray Davidson (St. Johnstone).
In his first season in Statesboro, the Eagles went 8-8-3 overall and 3-1-1 in Sun Belt Conference play, claiming a share of the regular-season league title with newcomer Coastal Carolina and earning a bye into the semifinal round of the Sun Belt Championship. The regular-season title is the first conference title for Georgia Southern in men’s soccer. The Eagles also ended the year 4-1-1 at home and 4-7-2 on the road. The Eagles’ 3-1-1 (.700) conference record was the best since the 2006 season when Georgia Southern went 4-1-2 (.714) in SoCon play. The 4-1-1 (.750) home mark was the best record in Statesboro for the men’s team since the 1997 season. That year, the Eagles went 6-1 at home.
Following the year, Murphy and four Eagle players were recognized by the conference office for their efforts during the season. Murphy was named the Sun Belt Coach of the Year while sophomore defender Emil Laursen earned Defensive Player of the Year honors to go along with Sun Belt Championship All-Tournament plaudits. Laursen and junior forward Blake Wilson were both named to the All-Sun Belt Conference First Team while junior Nick Wells and freshman Sander Wang earned second-team honors. Additionally, Laursen and Adam Abdellaoui were named to the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-District 4 First Team for their work in the classroom. During the year, Laursen, Wilson and freshman Justin Little picked up weekly awards from the league office. Laursen was a two-time Defensive Student-Athlete of the Week, Wilson was named Offensive Student-Athlete of the Week twice and Little picked up the first honors of the year with Defensive Student-Athlete of the Week honors in the first week of the season. Prior to the season, junior midfielder Thor Sveinbjornsson was named a Preseason All-Sun Belt selection.
Prior to arriving in Statesboro, Murphy served as the associate head coach and recruiting coordinator at Boston College where he was a member of New England Soccer Hall of Fame head coach Ed Kelly’s staff for two years. As Boston College’s recruiting coordinator, Murphy oversaw a 12-player recruiting class that was rated in the College Soccer News 2015 Top 50 Recruiting Classes and an additional 12-player recruiting class for 2016. The 2015 squad had one of the best turnarounds in NCAA Division I with an 11-8-3 record, and advanced to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight while beating Vermont, the University of South Florida and Georgetown along the way. For his efforts, Muprhy was named as one of the top Division I assistant coaches in 2015 by College Soccer News.
Additionally, Murphy was the lead radio analyst for the New England Revolution matches on 98.5 the Sports Hub. His work in the community included leading the NEFC U-18 Boys to the 2017 NPL National Championship game in Denver, Colorado, as well as serving as the team liason for both Chile and Argentina's national teams for the 2016 Copa America matches held in Boston.
Before joining the Boston College staff, Murphy spent two seasons at as the head coach of the Anderson Trojans (S.C.) where he compiled a record of 18-17-7, including a +6 improvement in win total from his first season to his second. He led the Trojans to the South Atlantic Conference (SAC) tournament title in his first season (2012) and they qualified for the NCAA Tournament in his second season (2013) following a return trip to the SAC Tournament Finals. Anderson was ranked as high as No. 19 in the NSCAA national poll in 2013.
Before leading Anderson, Murphy was an assistant coach and the recruiting coordinator for two years at Clemson. His two recruiting classes for the Tigers both ranked in the top 20 in the nation according to College Soccer News. Those classes eventually helped Clemson to the 2014 ACC Tournament Title and the 2015 College Cup Final appearance.
Murphy has also spent nine seasons on the Major League Soccer sidelines. He served as an assistant coach for the New England Revolution (2000-03) and the Columbus Crew SC (2004) before serving as an assistant coach and director of player development for the Colorado Rapids (2005-08). While with the Rapids, he also served as the head coach for the reserve team and guided them to the Reserve League championship in 2007 with an undefeated 7-0-1 record. The core of that team went on to win the MLS Cup in 2010. Columbus won its first Eastern Conference regular-season title and the 2004 MLS Supporters’ Shield in Murphy’s one year as an assistant and New England was a finalist in the 2001 US Open Cup, captured the 2002 Eastern Conference Championship as well as the 2002 MLS Cup while he was on the staff. Read about his thoughts on his long relationship with the MLS upon the league's 25th Anniversary in 2020 here.
Murphy’s eye for talent in the college drafts assisted each club in their acquisitions of players such as Clint Dempsey, Taylor Twellman, Pat Noonan and Shalrie Joseph (New England) as well as Bouna Coundoul, Jacob Peterson and Nick Labrocca (Colorado). In both New England and Colorado, Murphy was also charged with establishing and growing two separate youth academies, overseeing philosophy, curriculum development and programming.
His ability to identify and develop talent at every level he has worked is further highlighted by the number of former players drafted in Major League soccer since his return to the college game in 2010. Amadu Dia (Sporting Kansas City) Phanuel Kavita (Real Salt Lake), Andrew Tarbell (San Jose Earthquakes) Manolo Sanchez (New York Red Bulls), Zeiko Lewis (New York Red Bulls), Alex Kapp (Atlanta United) and Younes Boudadi (LA Galaxy) all have taken the next step after spending time with Coach Murphy during this period. While at Georgia Southern, his former Eagles that have gone on to play professionally include Nick Wells (Tormenta FC) and Azaad Liadi (Tucson FC).
Murphy’s first Division I coaching experience came at Brown University where he was current Clemson head coach Mike Noonan’s assistant from 1995-98. During his three seasons at Brown, Murphy helped guide the Bears to two NCAA tournament appearances and Ivy League Conference Titles in 1995 and 1997. The Bears were ranked as high as third during the 1995 campaign, the program’s highest national ranking.
Murphy got his coaching start at his alma mater, Massasoit Community College, where he led the Warriors to an 18-4-2 record in 1994. That season, Murphy and the Warriors claimed the Colonial States Conference title, were crowned the NJCAA New England Champions and were the NJCAA national semi-finalists, scoring 122 goals along the way. That mark was a national junior college record at the time. Read more about Coach Murphy's first head coaching job here.
Murphy has authored two books on soccer and published an instructional DVD set through Championship Productions. As an NSCAA National Staff Coach, Murphy is well known nation-wide as an educator and advocate for the game. He has been honored as a conference or regional Coach of the Year eight times as a head coach.
He holds the UEFA Pro Badge from the Scottish Football Association, a U.S. Soccer “A” License and a NSCAA Advanced National Diploma. He was the first foreign-born coach to earn an English Football Association “A” Goalkeeper Coaching License in 2003.
A native of Quincy, Massachusetts, Murphy earned an associate’s degree from Massasoit Community College, a bachelor’s degree from Bridgewater State and a degree in applied management from the University of Warwick in conjunction with the League Managers Association of England. He played in goal at Massasoit in 1985-86 and was a member of the undefeated 1986 NJCAA national championship team. Murphy was enshrined in the Massasoit Community College Hall of Fame in 2010 as a member of that 1986 team, while also recently being named to the North Quincy High School Hall of Fame. He also graduated with his master's degree in kinesiology in Georgia Southern in 2019.
John and his wife, Erin, have three sons, Shay (17), Eamon (14) and Declan (11) and they live in Brooklet.