Caleb Porter and Gavin Wilkinson at Porter's intro press conference - Will Conwell
Five months after being announced as the next head coach of the Portland Timbers, Caleb Porter finally made hs first appearance for the team as he was introduced to the press this morning at Jeld-Wen Field.
The press conference was primarily a serious affair interspersed with a few brief moments of levity as Porter introduced himself and took questions from the press. Porter spent a good deal of time talking about his coaching style and philosophy, as well as touching on several players specifically
In person Porter is clearly an intense and focused individual, who seemed most comfortable when talking about the upcoming season, rather than about the decision to come to Portland. "The past is the past," was a common refrain from Porter throughout the press conference when asked about the team's troubles on the road or what issues the team may have had last season.
The focus on the future is in keeping with Porter's professed goals as the coach of the Timbers. In the near future the goal is to win, but in the long term, Porter believes that his preferred method of controlling, dominating play is the best way to win consistently.
"I am realistic, I'm not naive. I don't think that we are just going to throw the ball out and play beautiful soccer and automatically pass the ball around and beat the New York Red Bulls on March 3rd. At the same time, if we are going to be a team that is consistently winning games, we need to move in a direction where we are the dominant team."
Out of the gate, Porter seemed candid and open in his answers to the press, so it came as only a small surprise when he directly responded to a question about Designated Player Kris Boyd's place on the team. Porter confirmed that Boyd is still under contract with the team before noting, "after watching him play quite a bit, and I have watched this team play quite a bit, Kris Boyd is a player that I think will have a hard time playing in the way that we want to play... What I want out of my strikers is going to be very difficult for him to offer."
Porter did leave the door open for Boyd, saying that he would have the chance to prove himself in training like anyone else, but with the Timbers current glut of strikers it seems like the writing is on the wall for Boyd's time with the team.
Porter's relationship with Darlington Nagbe, his former standout player at Akron, was also a hot topic. Porter was unwilling to say where he would play Nagbe, only confirming that he was happy to work with the young star again and that he hoped that he could help get the most out of Nagbe after several good but underperforming years.
Although he never said the dreaded p(otential) word, Porter did say, "in some ways the youth of this team has put more pressure on him to produce and perform, and he maybe hasn't handled that at times as well as he should have in terms of carrying the team, but he is also a young player. I think that there needs to be some patience with that, but going into his third year there are going to be high expectations."
The Timbers start their preseason on January 21st, something that Porter is itching for just as much as all the fans who will be watching over his shoulder, "I loving being in the locker room, being on the training pitch, teaching the game and selling the vision that we have."
For the full video of the conference go here.
The Timbers' press release:
TIMBERS FORMALLY INTRODUCE NEW HEAD COACH CALEB PORTER AT JELD-WEN FIELD
PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers today formally introduced new head coach Caleb Porter at a morning news conference held in the Community Room at JELD-WEN Field. Porter will lead the Timbers in 2013 after seven seasons as the head coach at the University of Akron, where he became one of the most successful coaches in the NCAA.
Appointed as the Timbers’ head coach Aug. 29, 2012, Porter coached Akron through the 2012 college season, guiding the Zips to an 18-1-3 record, a No. 1 national ranking, a conference championship and to the Round of 16 in the NCAA tournament. He finished his time at Akron (2006-12) with a career mark of 123-18-17 and owned the highest winning percentage (0.832) among current Division I coaches.
Porter, 37, built Akron into a perennial national championship contender, leading the Zips to five consecutive trips to the NCAA tournament’s Round of 16 (2008-12), back-to-back NCAA College Cup appearances in 2009 and 2010, and the school’s first national title in any sport in 2010. 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.
Additionally, Porter guided Akron to seven Mid-American Conference (MAC) regular-season championships and five MAC tournament titles. He was named the NSCAA National Coach of the Year in 2009 and was a three-time Division I All-Ohio Coach of the Year. He also won the MAC Coach of the Year award six consecutive times from 2007-12.
The Kalamazoo, Mich., native recruited and developed 17 Akron players who have been drafted into or signed by MLS over the past seven years, including a league-record five first-round selections and seven overall picks in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft. 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 2012 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.