PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers today named Caleb Porter as the club’s head coach for the 2013 season. Porter will lead the Timbers after seven seasons at the University of Akron, where he has become one of the most successful coaches in NCAA history. He also recently served as the head coach of the U.S. U-23 National Team. Timbers general manager Gavin Wilkinson made the announcement.
Porter, 37, will remain the head coach at Akron through the 2012 NCAA season. He will assume his role with the Timbers and be introduced formally as the club’s second MLS head coach at a news conference in Portland in December.
“Put simply, I believe Caleb Porter is the best young soccer coaching mind in the country,” said Timbers Owner and President Merritt Paulson. “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.”
“Caleb is ambitious and one of the most respected coaches in the nation,” said Wilkinson. “He has consistently developed and produced talented players who have gone on to excel in MLS. We feel that his mentality, personality, skill set and coaching philosophy are a tremendous fit with the culture of the Timbers organization and we’re excited to bring Caleb on as the Timbers head coach.”
Porter has built Akron men’s soccer into a perennial national championship contender since taking over the program in 2006 and led the Zips to the school’s first national title in any sport in 2010. Porter owns the highest win percentage among active NCAA Division I coaches, with a career mark of 106-17-14 (.825). He recorded the 100th win of his career in 2011, reaching the century mark in fewer games (126) than collegiate Hall of Fame and current MLS coaches Bruce Arena and Sigi Schmid.
“I am truly excited and honored to be provided this unique opportunity to coach the Portland Timbers, an organization that in a short-time has established itself as a model franchise in Major League Soccer,” said Porter. “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. 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.”
To date, Porter has guided Akron to four consecutive trips to the NCAA tournament’s Round of 16, back-to-back College Cup appearances in 2009 and 2010, seven Mid-American Conference (MAC) regular-season championships and four MAC tournament titles. Porter was named the NSCAA National Coach of the Year in 2009 and is a three-time Division I All-Ohio Coach of the Year. He also has won the MAC Coach of the Year award five consecutive times since 2007.
The Kalamazoo, Mich., native has recruited and developed 14 Akron players who have been drafted into MLS over the past six years, including a league-record five first-round selections and seven overall picks in 2011. Among those selected in 2011 was Timbers midfielder/forward Darlington Nagbe, who was the No. 2 overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft. Under Porter’s guidance, Nagbe and former Akron standout Teal Bunbury were recipients of the MAC Hermann Trophy, awarded to the nation’s top collegiate player.
In addition to his time at Akron, Porter served as the head coach of the U.S. U-23 Men’s National Team during recent CONCACAF Olympic qualification and spent three years as an assistant coach on the U.S. U-18 National Team from 2009-11. Prior to joining Akron, Porter was an assistant coach for six years (2000-05) at Indiana University, helping the school win back-to-back national championships in 2003 and 2004 and five Big Ten Conference championships.
As a player, Porter was the 27th overall pick by the San Jose Clash in the 1998 MLS College Draft. He spent time with San Jose and the Tampa Bay Mutiny before a knee injury ended his career in 2000. Porter also played two seasons with the U.S. National B Team in 1996 and 1997 and earned a bronze medal at the 1997 World University Games.
He had a successful collegiate career at Indiana, where he was a four-year letter winner and a three-year captain for the Hoosiers. Porter led Indiana to four conference titles and two College Cup appearances, and was the runner-up for the 1997 Hermann Trophy.
Porter graduated from Indiana in 1998 with a degree in sports management. He and his wife, Andrea, have three children – two sons, Colin and Jake, and daughter, Stella Jane.