By Matt Bradshaw —

U of L has found a replacement for Ken Lolla two weeks out from the long-time leader’s resignation. Former assistant coach John Michael Hayden is officially taking over as the new head coach of Louisville men’s soccer.

The Personel Committee of the ULAA Board of Directors met to approve the promotion this morning, along with approving the promotion of Whitney Young to women’s golf head coach. Hayden has been signed to a four-year deal.

“Following a diligent search process, we are extremely pleased to name John Michael as our next head coach. There was an amazing amount of support for John Michael across all levels of the soccer world, including many connected with our program at Louisville,” athletics director Vince Tyra said. “He’s a talented coach and relentless recruiter who enjoys teaching an attacking style that will foster ongoing success.”

Hayden has experience as both a player and a coach, along with a history of winning championships.

He played collegiately for Indiana University, where he won back-to-back NCAA Championships in 2003 and 2004. Hayden was named to the NCAA College Cup All-Tournament Team during the 2004 title run.

The Louisville native, Trinity grad was selected in the 2007 MLS SuperDraft by the Houston Dynamo. His rookie season saw the Dynamo win the MLS Cup Championship.

“I am very excited to be the next head men’s soccer coach for the University of Louisville. I want to thank both Vince Tyra and Matt Banker for their belief in me. I firmly believe in Vince’s vision for this athletic program and know that I have the ability and passion to take the U of L soccer program to even greater heights,” Hayden said.

Hayden first coached on the U of L men’s soccer staff in 2012, when the Cardinals won the Big East and reached the Elite Eight. He next served as assistant coach at Lipscomb for two seasons, then assistant coach at Xavier in 2015.

The former pro returned to Louisville in 2016, when the Cards again reached the Elite Eight of the NCAA Championship. This past season, the men’s soccer team reached new heights with the program’s first ever ACC Championship title.

“Through my soccer career, I have spent time in a number of championship environments as both a player and coach, which gives me a blueprint for what it takes to win,” Hayden said. “My hope is to build on the success Ken Lolla achieved here at Louisville to raise the program to an even higher standard of excellence. Ken laid a great foundation and I’d be remiss to not thank him for all he has done for me. He is an unbelievable coach, mentor, and most importantly, a good friend. I wish Ken all the best in his future endeavors.”

Across his tenure as assistant coach, U of L holds a 52-19-11 overall record with four NCAA Championship berths and three Elite Eight appearances. Hayden becomes the fifth men’s soccer head coach in the history of the program.

Hayden has received vocal support for his new position from many across the sport, including Indiana head coach Todd Yeagley and Louisville FC head coach John Hackworth.

“John Michael has been instrumental in the success of the program over the past three seasons. He is prepared to lead the U of L men’s soccer program to greater success,” Lolla said. “Most importantly, he is a person of high integrity and strong character. This will be the basis for future growth of the program. His ties to the community will further connect U of L fans with the program. It will be exciting to watch the development under John Michael.”

Men’s soccer loses four seniors to graduation this coming year, including scoring leader Tate Schmitt. Hayden says he is ready to work with new players and get things going.

“We have a tremendous group of returning players and incoming recruits, so I’m ready to hit the ground running,” Hayden said. “Louisville is home for me and my family and there is no other place in the country I’d rather be than the University of Louisville.”Hayden married Hollie Minogue in 2007, who played for U of L women’s soccer, and the pair has two sons: Liam and Jacob.

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Photo courtesy / Louisville Athletics