Porter named Timbers coach, will take over after conclusion of college season

Porter (ISI)

Photo by ISIphotos.com

Caleb Porter is making the jump to the professional ranks, but not until December. 

Porter was named the new coach of the Portland Timbers Wednesday, where he will take over full-time duties from interim coach and general manager Gavin Wilkinson, who took over for the ousted John Spencer. Porter will assume the Timbers' post following the conclusion of the 2012 NCAA men's soccer season, and he will be formally introduced at a press conference in December.

Porter, who guided the Akron Zips (ranked No. 1 in SBI's College Soccer poll) to a national championship in 2010, will look to exit the college game on top again before taking over for a franchise whose rabid fanbase is starved for a perennial winner, much like Akron has become under Porter's watch.

"Put simply, I believe Caleb Porter is the best young soccer coaching mind in the country," Timbers owner and president Merritt Paulson said. "He is the right fit for the Timbers on every level. We went through an exhaustive and thorough search over the last couple months where we spoke with some truly excellent candidates, but Caleb quickly emerged as the consensus target. We look forward to 2013 and beyond with Caleb at our helm.”

For the 37-year-old Porter, a former standout at Indiana University and draft pick of the San Jose Clash in his playing days, the move comes five months after he was unable to guide the U.S. Under-23 men's national team to Olympic qualification. He will be reunited in Portland with former Akron standout Darlington Nagbe while inheriting a team that sits on the bottom of the Western Conference with a 6-13-6 record a year after coming close to making the playoffs in its expansion season. 

“I know that Merritt and Gavin are committed to long-term success for the Timbers and, come December, I will be completely focused and driven to continue building a professional club in which the Timbers supporters, city and organization will be proud of," Porter said. "In the meantime, out of respect to the Akron program, I will not be commenting further on this matter until after the conclusion of the 2012 college season.” 


What do you think of this development? Do you think this is the right hire for the Timbers? How do you see Porter faring as a coach in MLS?

Share your thoughts below.

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65 Responses to Porter named Timbers coach, will take over after conclusion of college season

  1. Kevin_Amold says:

    How do Timbers fans feel about this hire?

  2. Fred says:

    Bro will coach the Nats at some point. Klinnsmann will groom him for it.

  3. Jurgen Klinsmann says:

    SAdly for him he wont be able to play bums like Sarkodie and Bunbury over better players this time.

  4. Old School says:


  5. suarez says:

    Pretty much every US coach at all the younger levels played Sarkodie too. And Klinsmann has played Bunbury at the senior level

  6. Marco says:

    Vancouver is really, really happy about this hire considering Porter’s track history of being outcoached by Canadians.

  7. CorkSoccer says:

    +1 (and not Canadian, too f-ing funny!)

  8. Old School says:

    By that criteria, too bad the remaining 18 or so coaches in MLS aren’t also named Caleb Porter.

    Maybe then, Canadian clubs would amount to something in this league.

  9. James says:

    Normally, I’m not one for complaint (I think this is my first on this site), but, out of curiosity, will you continue to remind us that you ranked Akron #1 on your SBI College Poll in every single blog post until he moves to Portland?

    It’s a little self-aggrandizing and just an annoying repetitive reminder for something that matters very little in the grand scheme of things. If he wins the title, feel free to call him a title-winner from here to eternity, but to say he’s ranked #1 on some previous post that you wrote (in every single post) can be a bit annoying. That’s all.

  10. t says:

    He’s a young coach, I love the way the U-23 team played. Don’t forget the team that played in the Mexican friendly, was not the same team for the qualifiers. Injuries and clubs not releasing their players, so give him a break.

  11. The Imperative Voice says:

    Really? The U23s is closer to USMNT in terms of what he has to deal with, than is Portland. Portland might have CBA rules, MLS rules, etc., but with the U23s he can pick his team and he showed up with an awful defense, had no ability to adjust it.

    He has to win titles at other places than Akron — not just compete but win — before we can even start talking Nats.

    Like giving your kid straight out of driver’s ed the wheel and sending him out for the Indy 500 race. Sheesh.

  12. The Imperative Voice says:

    Considering how Sarkodie has translated to the pro level, that is more of an indictment of the NT pipeline than a fair defense of the player. Why is this shoddy defender with poor distribution getting elevated? Every time he plays for the Dynamo he stinks, and I wanted for an athletic defender to succeed here (because our backline is too slow and technical). I just didn’t know their names would be Taylor and Creavalle instead.

  13. Joe shmoe says:


  14. Joe shmoe says:

    you sound like an idiot

  15. Steve says:

    Cautiously optimistic. I think it’s a homerun or a strikeout, no middle ground.

  16. Joe shmoe says:

    I think it was Bradley

  17. Sagcat says:

    Excited and optimistic here. Of course, I’ve been looking forward to next season since June.

  18. The Imperative Voice says:

    I hear that but then he had no apparent ability to see the defense for what it is, and adjust within his player pool, while people like Gyau often rotted.

    Also, the higher he moves up the ladder — someone was suggesting Nats which I find incredible — the more he has to be able to adjust tactics and play with the hand he might be dealt. The difference between, say, Arena, and many other coaches, is he could be handed that awful LA team in March, be a laughing stock for a few weeks, keep making changes, and voila, playoff-competitive by mid-summer.

    Porter did not win long enough or often enough at Akron — nor did it translate into something at U23 — where I’m sold he’s “got it.”

  19. Old School says:

    So, basically what you’re saying is if I give him a Mourinho-styled, “The “Number” One” nickname…you will NOT be supportive of that.

  20. The Imperative Voice says:

    MEX (vs. US, friendly): 1-Liborio Sanchez, 2-Israel Jimenez, 4-Nestor Araujo, 5-Darvin Chávez, 6-Ricardo Bocanegra (17-Javier Aquino, 46), 7-Javier Cortés, 9-Jeronimo Amione (19-Alan Pulido, 64), 10-Marco Fabian, 14-Jorge Enriquez (8-David Cabrera, 78), 16-Miguel Ponce (18-Hector Herrera, 46), 21-Ricardo Mier (capt.)

    Subs not used: 11-Nestor Calderon, 12-Antonio Rodriguez, 13-Diego Reyes, 15-Jair Barraza, 20-Hugo Rodriguez

    MEX (vs. Brazil, Olympic final):


    For comparison’s sake. IMO one way for a coach to mess themselves up is to not recognize when the opposition was experimental or undermanned, false sense of security. In retrospect it appears we took the game very seriously and Mexico less so. Perhaps we should have had more real games related to camp, not just friendlies with minor league franchises?

    Also, elevating friendlies over qualifying is like elevating preseason over regular season.

  21. BSU SC says:

    What does Ritchie Williams have to do to get a head coaching job in MLS?

  22. THomas says:

    He did win the title. The 2010 National Championship.

  23. mcfly says:

    I 1000000 per cent agree. Klinsmann all but forced him into the profressional ranks.

  24. t says:

    The Mexican team got dominated, comparing those players, don’t forget to add the three over age players USA would have used. As far as Mexico experimenting, stop there, many of those players from the friendly was on the Olympic squad. They got out played with the true Olympic roster, not the roster that was took.

  25. MidWest Ref says:

    Did anyone ever hear of Akron as a college program before Porter arrived? Since then, Akron has continued to be among the best programs. He made it to back to back national championship games.

    Porter played college ball at IU (go Hoosiers) under the great Jerry Yeagley. He played a couple years in the MLS, I believe.

    He coaches, as much as he can, a great style of possession passing, rather than a defense oriented, physical play that dominates the college game. That is part of the reason Klinsman picked him to try to qualify the U23’s. Recall that he did not have many chances to work with the U23’s except for the immediate build up to the qualifiers.

    CD United has pursued him in the past, as have other MLS clubs. I think Portland is getting a great young coach.

  26. JohnSpencer'sTactics says:

    Hey Caleb, in a year and a half when you haven’t turned this cluster into a playoff team, they will fire you midseason.

  27. Rlw2020 says:

    And Jon Spencer to take over the Zips..deal done

  28. Ricardo says:

    Yes we all heard of Akron. Kenny Lolla did a fabulous job with that team and is a guy who US Soccer needs to have involved with their youth teams at some level.

  29. abc says:

    Maybe have the US youth team he is coaching NOT qualify for a major international tournament?

    Worked for Porter.

    He probably can’t engage in nepotism like Porter did with his Akron cronies (guys like Sarkodie and Valentin LOL), but maybe he can call in youngsters that he knows from his NYRB days….

  30. Jim Morrison says:


  31. MidWest Ref says:

    For how long was he a part of the U-23 set up to let Gyau rot? Not long enough to blame him for Gyau sitting on the bench – like every other U23 coach (cough cough, Rongen).

    Porter took Akron from nothing and made them a year in year out competitor. How long is enough for you? Does he have to coach for 20+ years like Sigi did at UCLA? Even then, Sigi had detractors when the Crew hired him. Sigi has done okay, I think

  32. abc says:

    Successful college coaching is all about RECRUITING.

    See: football, basketball, baseball, soccer, and every other sport out there.

    How many of those college coaches go on to have success at the MLS level? More in soccer than in the others (Arena, Bradley, etc.), but maybe that’s because they came in to MLS at a time when there were like a dozen teams and most made the playoffs and they could LEARN how to succeed in MLS in a relatively low pressure environment (at least compared to guys like Pitino)… will Porter succeed? Who knows. Maybe. He is a smart guy. But success at the college level is almost meaningless at the pro level.

  33. dan says:

    I think that losing in the U-23’s tourney did Caleb Porter a lot of good. Though he has a great soccer mind, he realized he has much to learn and he wasn’t going to learn it at Akron.

    He is taking “the plunge” into the professional ranks and I think that is a great move for him – if he wants to develop.

    For him, maybe the only reason to stay at the college level would be for job security?

  34. MidWest Ref says:

    Lolla made the NCAA tournament while he was at Akron, but never made it as far as Porter’s teams.

    Porter has clearly improved on Lolla’s spade work at Akron. But that doesn’t mean that Porter is a bad coach or shouldn’t be going to Portland.

    Lolla has been around for a number of years. Why hasn’t he gotten a call up to help the Nat’s when Porter has?

  35. MidWest Ref says:


  36. Fred says:

    Yes, and when/if he does coach there he will have the full national team at his disposal, including EUROPEAN based players. Not out of form MLSers/LigaMX(less so out of form, Joe Corona was awesome during the tournament) for 3 games. Look everyone can agree he messed up when they did not make it to the Olympics but top options were not there. I also believe I said at some point. Klinnsmann sees his style as the way forward for American soccer. Clearly there will be bumps like U23 failure along the way. I am honestly not too concerned and believe he will do well in Portland. When you say I sound like an idiot but don’t provide a reason as to why then how will I correct myself moving forward?

  37. NaranjaFanatic says:

    As far as coaching prospects go, where is Preki these days?

  38. YO says:

    What next? –England is going to be ranked No. 1!

  39. Matteo says:

    running a coaching clinic with Peter Nowak on how to get closer to your players.

  40. adam says:

    Yes, money and job security. Or if he just passionately loves developing players over coaching professionals.

  41. The Imperative Voice says:

    Funny you mention Sigi being hired at Columbus. Well, at that point he’d won league titles, USOC, and a rare CONCACAF title with LA; made the knockout rounds of the U20 worlds twice with the USA, and won 3 NCAA titles. More like Arena than Porter, thanks for making my point for me. He then won the Crew’s only title ever. I only wonder why the same hasn’t come to pass in Seattle, but they’ve been competitive (maybe the turf?).

    All due respect to your Rongen cheap shot but he generally made his world tournaments. 2011 was a rare exception where he happened to catch the host team in the knockout stage.

    Rongen actually used Gyau at U20.

    I don’t know how one can defend players like Diskerud, Adu, Bunbury, and such ahead of Gyau, particularly in a 433. Plus I’m convinced he and other surplus middies would have been superior to the employed defenders as converted backs.

    I just have little confidence in a coach who starts cronies in back in a weak backline that was so obviously of a different level than the pro-class attack. Like putting a Ferrari engine into a VW Bug chassis. The team concept was flawed and it was his show.

    Of particular complaint to me is that he had one job to formulate this yeam, and he seemed surprised players ended up unavailable. You don’t think Klinsi thinks two steps ahead on callups?

  42. The Imperative Voice says:

    All due respect but it’s kind of like assuming we’ll win over Mexico’s full team because we beat their experimental team in Azteca. It’s good psychology to push that win but it was a friendly against an experimental U23. When everyone showed up to play he managed to beat Cuba. He tied Canada and lost to ES. AT HOME. Color me underwhelmed.

  43. MidWest Ref says:

    You are clearly fired up about this hiring of Porter and will reject any comment otherwise.

    First, how is my comment about Rongen a cheap shot? The fact is that over many years, his youth teams did qualify, any you pointed out that he did not at one occassion. He has also been criticized for his lack of use of many players – and causing some players (Subotic) not to choose to play for the USMNT.

    RE: Sigi and Columbus, my apologies. My recollection is that Sigi was passed over for a head coaching position for a few years in the MLS – and finally got the LA job. I said Columbus, I was wrong, you caught me.

    Yes, I would pick Adu on a U-23 level; and I don’t think most people would excoriate me for doing so. Diskerud and Bunbury are now professionals, so I am not sure that this is an undefendable position.

    In regard to starting croonies: every coach likes his players. The Akron players he picked were generally All-America NCAA players, who have been drafted into the MLS.

    I think you are going a bit overboard here. Time will tell if Porter works or not.

  44. dgoshilla says:

    I just tend to believe that pro MLS players will be the coaches of the future here in the US. College coaches not so much.

  45. chris says:

    hahaha what about the ex pros that coach college?

  46. Seriously says:

    Isn’t Vancouver’s coach Scottish? Just sayin…

  47. David St. Hubbins says:

    Jeld-wen is built for Yallop/Kinner-ball, not Porter’s 4-3-3.

  48. slowleftarm says:

    Going to be increasingly difficult in future to get top young players to waste their time in college soccer.

  49. The Imperative Voice says:

    I think if you go to my posts on the other, pre-official thread I said “we’ll see” or words to that effect. That I am not a believer doesn’t mean he will fail.

    I just think he’s not all that special from what I can objectively see. One NCAA title does not even set him apart from many in the college ranks. His sole US performance was of not qualifying.

    Gyau had unusual speed and they were playing a 433, which rewards wing speed and crossing.

    I thought the main focus of discussion was Porter not the more successful Rongen, and you completely duck the defensive discussion I made other than to say it’s perfectly OK to pick Akron players because they were in demand.

    My thing is, go look at how much Sarkodie, Opara, Villafana, and Kitchen have played this season. Only Kitchen is a starter. Two of those four were Akronians, and the defense was the weak point of the team. I think he totally overrated his defense, never considered moving players around, and basically looked like a roll-out-the-ball coach to me. I think you or I could throw darts at a board and do just as well picking his offense, and we might have anticipated the defense would be shoddy, I know I did.

    The criticism is widespread enough of his work where you can drop the blinders argument. When he does something exceptional I’ll treat him exceptionally. All I see is someone who corralled a bunch of U20s and did well by the recruiting. Similar recruiting blips made the guy at UCLA the flavor of the month, and he couldn’t win with Feilhaber and Zizzo. Porter certainly didn’t win every year….

  50. t says:

    Their was no experiment team for Mexico, stop being stupid, they got beat and lost. Every player on that Mexican roster was on the Olympic squad. The US roster was not the same, players were not released and injuries happen

  51. t says:

    They are expanding the stadium a little, go look at the other ives post.

  52. Kejsare says:


  53. Kejsare says:

    A decision was made before the coaching search to expand the field. We just learned about it this week.

  54. hogatroge says:

    For Portland’s sake, I hope his godawful management of the Olympic Qualifying squad was a fluke.

    People like to complain that he didn’t have the best U23s available, but keeping Sheanon Williams and Joe Gyau benched for the third game is nearly criminal and, in hindsight, inexcusable.

  55. GW says:

    Success at one level, for a player or a manager,is never a guarantee of success at a higher level but it sure beats failure.

    If you are good at recruiting that probably means you are:

    1.) Good at evaluating talent

    2.) Convincing that talent to do something you want them to do.

    Sounds like a pretty good start to me.

    The surest path to success for any manager is to have as many good players as possible.

  56. Scott A says:

    Porter didn’t not like MLS before, he just didn’t like the District of Columbia and DCU I guess.

  57. MidWest Ref says:

    Wait a second, are you asking me to track back and look at all of your posts before commenting?

    I was responding to your prior post. Your prior post challenged the selection of 3 MLS pros, including Freddy Adu who was the captain and assists leader during Olympic qualifying, and if you watched the games (I trust that you did based on your knowledge), clearly the leader on the field.

    You are upset that Porter did not play Gyau more. In fact, you used the phrase, Gyau rotted on the bench. Porter was in charge of the U23’s for 4 games as I review the history. 1 was a warm up win over Mexico – tough to complain about the choices there. The second was a 6-0 win over Cuba – tough to criticize a comprehensive win. The next was a 2-0 loss. You could criticize, except Gyau played the entire second half, when he came on for Aguedelo – who I think most people believe was a pretty good U23 too. Oh yeah, he didn’t score. The game against El Salvador – well, we were in a position we shouldn’t have been; were down; were up; and then out. I wont try to defend Porter’s choices in this game.

    Next, you say that your comment was not about those pros (which it was), but the defenders. Okay, he did pick many of his Akron defenders – but again, they were All- Americans – who was objectively better? Furthermore, he seldom played Sarkodie, Kitchen and Valentin at the same time; rather bringing them in to face different teams. I didn’t duck your question; you re-raised it from a prior post.

    On Rongen, he did a fine job, but he is not the end all beat all. Plus he had many years on the developmental US squads. Porter was appointed in late Oct of 2011; had 2 or 3 camps; a warm up game v. Mex; and then the qualifiers in Feb/Mar of 2012. Not an excuse, just showimg the difference between Rongen’s long term with the US nats and Porter’s short term.

    It is a terrible disappointment that we did not qualify for the olympics, but to say he is not qualified to coach Portland because of it is something else entirely.

    On his performance in the college game – Akron has been at the top of the NCAA’s since he took over. He doesn’t play in a highly compettive league like the ACC to help with recruiting. I am not sure what more you would want from a college coach.

  58. GW says:

    While it was a complete disaster the Under 23 bomb was not enough of a sample size on which to completely bury Porter.

    What struck me about it was that it seemed he barely had five minutes to turn that group into a team.

    Great coaches can do that ( Porter is not great yet) but this group, at least the one that eventually showed up, seemed oddly unbalanced. And I’m not sure you can blame any one person for that.

    I was not as impressed with Gyau as most of you seemed to be.

    He reminded me of vintage Steve McMahon, often going on mazy runs with the ball eventually running into blind alleys and leading to nothing. All sizzle, no steak.

    Whether that was the coaching scheme, everyone’s unfamiliarity with each other or just Gyau not being focused and using his vision I don’t know. But he given how he was playing, his limited minutes were not a surprise.

    I haven’t seen enough of Williams playing for the US to comment but then, maybe there is a reason for that.

  59. Gray says:

    Portland reminds of when Chivas came into the league. They operate on a combination of arrogance and ignorance. They expect to dominate with no clue as to how to be successful in MLS. As for Porter, he seems to fit that business model to a T.

  60. Juan from L.A. says:

    This guy will be an epic fail…unbeliavable after his disaster of coaching the U-23 and FAILING he gets the nod to coach a professional team? In any other country that is elite or professional he would be an assistant at best of a veteran coach cause Porter showed he needs to learn a lot at the professional level. The NCAA is not even amateur level with its stupid rules and playing 4 out of 12 months at best. As for Portland…you’ll continue being the laughing stock of the league…AS FOR THOSE IDIOTS who continue to live on a friendly of which we beat the eventual Olympic Champions one word for you guys-PATHETIC!

  61. Joe says:

    I don’t think it’s a home run, but it’s at least a sliding-into-third triple.

  62. Vigilante says:

    Let’s hope he doesn’t coach like he did with the Olympic team

  63. pon pon says:

    The euros mostly blow

  64. Primoone says:

    Get ready renken..youre going to get a lot of playing time.

  65. jb says:

    I dont know if Porter will be a successful pro coach much less a candidate for the USMNT. But to condemn him for the 2 month whirlwind that was the failed olympic qualification is extremely shortsighted. They were very impressive in the first two games, including a friendly win over the eventual gold medal winner. I cant recall the Canada match, which result is surely where the team was knocked out. The ES match, you can certainly argue Porter should have made some defensive subs earlier, but this was really his first ever experience managing the international game under pressure. I’m willing to give him a pass and certainly expect he learned from it. You cant blame him for the atrocious goalkeeping errors.