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Rod Underwood (born in New Orleans, United States) is an American former soccer player and head coach. He is currently the head coach of the Cleveland City Stars in the USL First Division.


Playing career

Underwood began playing soccer at the college level with Furman University in 1985. He became the first African American to play soccer at Furman University[1]. While at Furman, Rod was the leading goal scorer as a freshman, a three-time all-conference selection, and the conference tournament MVP as a senior. In his final year at Furman Underwood earned his Bachelor's Degree in 1989. As a player Underwood spent time with New Mexico Chiles, Albuquerque Geckos, and New Orleans Gamblers.

Management career

Underwood first began his coaching career as player-coach at New Mexico Chiles in 1994. Once he moved to Albuquerque in 1997, he led the Geckos to the USISL D-3 Pro League Championship before coaching the club through its promotion to the A-League a season later. The following season Underwood was appointed the head coach of the South Carolina Shamrocks in 1999. Where he led South Carolina to finish 5th in the Atlantic Division, and clinch a playoff spot. In the postseason he led them to the first round before being eliminated. Once the season concluded the franchise folded after the 1999 season. Following his stint with South Carolina Underwood was appointed the assistant coach for Georgia State University. On April 19, 2007 the Portland Timber's head coach Gavin Wilkinson appointed Underwood as his assistant coach[2]. During the 2007 USL season he helped the Timbers finish second place in the standings, and help the club reach the semifinals in the playoffs before losing to Atlanta Silverbacks. On February 5, 2009 the Cleveland City Stars announced the hiring of Underwood to serve as the new head coach for the 2009 USL season[3]. He became the second head coach in club history, after succeeding Martin Rennie. In preparation for the 2009 season Underwood resolved to bring new players to the squad, notably players from Africa and MLS experienced players[4].


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