In his three seasons with the Portland Timbers, head coach Caleb Porter has made the Timbers one of the most consistent teams in Major League Soccer, not to mention guiding the team to it's first MLS Cup win last season. In the wake of the team's triumph, it is not surprising that the Timbers announced today that Porter has been given a "long-term" contract extension.
With a record of 41-25-36 (159 points) since taking over the club in 2013; only bettered by the LA Galaxy (165), Seattle Sounders (167), and New York Red Bulls (169); the Timbers have certainly been among the most successful clubs in MLS over the last three years -- even with the specter of narrowly missing out on the playoffs in 2014 hanging over the club.
Much of that success has come at home for the Timbers under Porter, with only seven losses in three years at Providence Park, compared to their 24 wins and 20 draws at home.
Noted for his man on man style and tactical nuance by his players, the last three years under Porter have seen him evolve alongside his team: impressing in the league by implementing a high pressure, high possession style; struggling but adapting to the changes made by the Timbers opponents in 2014; and surging back up the standings all the way to the MLS Cup after an injury-hit start to the year in 2015.
How Porter, and the Timbers, continue their evolution in 2016 should be exciting to watch.
The Timbers' press release:
TIMBERS SIGN HEAD COACH CALEB PORTER TO LONG-TERM CONTRACT EXTENSION
PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers announced today that the club has signed head coach Caleb Porter to a long-term contract extension. Since joining the Timbers in 2013, Porter has compiled one of the league’s top winning percentages among active MLS coaches with a record of 41-25-36 (.578), leading the Timbers to their first MLS Cup title, two Western Conference Championship appearances and double-digit wins in each of his first three seasons.
"This long-term extension is well deserved, and we are pleased and proud to announce that Caleb Porter will remain with the Timbers as our head coach for many years to come," said Gavin Wilkinson, general manager of the Timbers. "Caleb is one of the top coaches in MLS, and the progress and accomplishments this club has realized over the last three seasons under his direction speak for themselves. We are thrilled Caleb will continue to lead our team, and I look forward to continuing our relationship and working together to achieve all of our goals and continued success."
Over Porter’s first three seasons, the Timbers have compiled regular-season point totals of 57 (2013), 49 (2014) and 53 (2015). Over that span of time, Portland’s combined point total (159) ranks as the fourth most in MLS, behind only the New York Red Bulls (169), Seattle Sounders FC (167) and LA Galaxy (165). Additionally, Portland has registered a league-best 35 shutouts across Porter’s first three seasons, while the club’s 14 road wins the last two seasons rank as the most in MLS over that span.
"It’s hard to imagine a better cultural, tactical and philosophical fit to lead the Portland Timbers on the pitch than Caleb Porter," said Merritt Paulson, owner of the Timbers. "I am delighted to announce his long-term contract extension."
Porter coached in his 100th game as an MLS coach against Real Salt Lake on Oct. 14, 2015, posting a record of 39-25-36 in those games, which tied San Jose Earthquakes head coach Dominic Kinnear for the fewest losses (25) in MLS history in a coach’s first 100 career games. In addition, his .570 winning percentage during that span ranks fourth among active coaches through their first 100 games, behind the LA Galaxy’s Bruce Arena (62-37-1, .625), Seattle’s Sigi Schmid (52-33-15, .595) and Kinnear (40-25-35, .575).
"I would like to thank Merritt and Gavin for the faith they have shown in me with this long-term commitment to continue leading this incredible organization – the Portland Timbers," said Porter. "My family and I feel privileged to live in this wonderful community and personally I'm humbled every day to coach for a club with the best supporters in MLS. I'm extremely proud of what our staff has built and accomplished over three years, but we are very hungry to sustain this success and achieve more in the future."
In 2015, the Timbers made their second MLS postseason appearance under Porter, who guided Portland to the playoffs for the first time in the club’s MLS history in his first season at the helm in 2013 as the club advanced to the Western Conference Championship. During his tenure, the Timbers have qualified for CONCACAF Champions League twice (2014-15, 2016-17), finished in the top three in the Western Conference in two of his first three seasons and made their deepest run in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, reaching the semifinals in 2013.
Ending the 2015 campaign with a nine-game unbeaten run across all competitions, the Timbers lifted their first MLS Cup trophy with a 2-1 win over Columbus Crew SC on Dec. 6, 2015. Portland finished the regular season with an MLS-club-record 15 wins, while also tying for the league lead in shutouts (13). On the road, the Timbers finished the 2015 season tied for the most road wins (7) in the league.
The MLS Coach of the Year after his first season in the league in 2013, Porter engineered a 23-point improvement in points and an MLS-record 43-goal improvement in goal differential over the previous season. Portland’s five losses during the 2013 regular season tied for the fewest in MLS history in a 34-game season. In addition, the Timbers led the league with 15 shutouts and recorded a 15-game, home unbeaten streak during the 2013 regular season, posting a league-best 11-1-5 home record at Providence Park and an MLS single-season record 11 home shutouts.
In 2014, the Timbers netted a team-record 61 goals while compiling one of the highest point totals across the final two-thirds of the regular season – recording the highest goal differential (plus-9) of any non-playoff team in MLS history.
Under Porter’s guidance, the Timbers have made Providence Park one of the toughest places to play in the league, registering the second-fewest home losses in MLS over the last three seasons with a 24-7-20 regular-season mark at Providence Park since 2013.