Caleb Porter has been hired as the 8th head coach in Columbus Crew history, the club announced on Friday, while also unveiling Tim Bezbatchenko as team president.
Porter has been out of a job since he departed the Portland Timbers in late 2017 after a disappointing playoff exit in the semifinals followed a season that saw Portland earn the top spot in the West. The 43-year-old has an MLS Cup victory to his name, coming in 2015 with the Timbers in which he defeated the Crew in the finals.
Porter replaces Gregg Berhalter who left Columbus after five seasons to become head coach of the U.S. Men’s National Team.
“I am honored to join Columbus Crew SC, a club with a rich history in Major League Soccer and a city with great appreciation for its beloved club dating back to 1996,” Porter said. The statement is a poignant one that alludes to the club remaining in Columbus after a tumultuous period that featured speculation the team would move to Austin, TX before the Haslam family swooped in to purchase the club and keep it in Ohio. There were reports that Porter had conversations with the LA Galaxy before ultimately deciding to take over at Columbus.
“Caleb has been a proven winner every place he has coached and like Tim won an MLS Cup in 2015,” the Crew SC Investor-Operator group said in the club release. “He has a deep understanding of how to build formidable and successful programs and is well respected for his soccer acumen and development of players. With Tim and Caleb sharing some Ohio roots, we feel they are the perfect fit as we move into a new era of Crew soccer.”
Porter’s Ohio connection stems from his six years in charge of the Akron Zips program, which he led from 2006-2012 before joining the USMNT youth coaching ranks.
New president Tim Bezbatchenko comes over from Toronto FC where he built a squad that challenged for the top spot in the East before winning the MLS Cup in 2017. He signed Sebastian Giovinco, Michael Bradley, and Jozy Altidore at Toronto, the players who provided the backbone of the title contending squads.