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SBI MLS Mid-Season Coach of the Year: Caleb Porter

CalebPorterCOY (Getty)


When Caleb Porter took over as head coach of the Portland Timbers, he stepped into a role where plenty of scrutiny would be cast on him for being a college soccer coach with no previous pro experience.

Nobody is wondering about Porter’s ability to make the transition anymore. Not after helping the Timbers exceed all expectations and rattle off an 18-match unbeaten streak in all competitions to push Portland near the top of the league just a year after being one of the league’s laughing stocks. Porter’s ability to transform the Timbers into a force is why he is SBI’s pick for MLS Mid-Season Coach of the Year.

Not only has Porter helped transition in new players, and build a system that makes the most of the talent on his squad, the former Akron coach has also helped some Timbers enjoy breakout campaigns playing in his system.

Porter is one of several MLS coaches to do impressive jobs in 2013. RSL coach Jason Kreis has his team on top of the league despite a major off-season roster shake-up, while Oscar Pareja has helped the Colorado Rapids play like a playoff team despite suffering more injuries than any other team in MLS.

What other coaches have done well through the first half of 2013? Here are SBI’s picks as the Top Five coaches in MLS so far this season:



Has not only rebuilt the roster with some great acquisitions, he has also helped holdovers like Rodney Wallace, Darlington Nagbe and Diego Chara exceed expectations.


It was supposed to be a rebuilding season for RSL, but Kreis has helped some new faces and bench players transition into key roles, and has Real Salt Lake atop MLS right now.


The Rapids aren’t in a playoff spot at the moment, but the fact they are very close to the Top Five in the West despite all the injuries they have endured puts Pareja on this list.


Has the Impact in first place in his first season in charge, and while some might think he should be higher on the list, the reality is he inherited a team that finished 2012 strong.


FC Dallas got their season off to  roaring start, and Schellas Hyndman has helped his team shake off the departure of Brek Shea and challenge as one of the top teams in the league this year.


Now it’s your turn to cast your vote for MLS Mid-Season Coach of the Year. Cast your vote here:

  • Caleb Porter
  • Jason Kreis
  • Oscar Pareja
  • Marco Schallibaum
  • Schellas Hyndman
  • Martin Rennie
  • Mike Petke
  • Jay Heaps


What do you think of our selections? Who would get your Coach of the Year vote at the mid-way point of the season?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I can’t see it being anyone else but Porter. I thought he would be pretty good…eventually. But an 18 game unbeaten streak? And he has done it mostly by convincing guys they are better than they thought they were. Maybe at year end you eventually go to Kries, but right now this is clear choice.

  2. I second Kreis for coach of the year. They guy single-handedly built RSL and they are one of the top competitors in the league every year. And I know they award is just for this year and not previous. He has built a young squad with a fire-sell of many of his Star’s from last year. They’re winning and playing well.

    • Even as a huge Timbers fan, I think Kreis deserves a nod…. perhaps a longer-term, larger award? I do think that being consistently good over a five-year span is a way different beast than having one good year. Thankfully SBI’s award is best midseason coach, and I think Porter has a good claim to that one.

  3. I would have given it to Ben Olsen. He has provided the fams of the 18 teams not named DC with more joy than we ever could have imagined. Thank you, Ben.

    • As a DCU fan (and your sarcasm noted so not a rebuttal) Ben’s reliance on the grind it out approach that worked *some* last year has failed this year. And, of course, sticking with choke in front of goal machine Pajoy is infuriating.

      Sad though because not sure we’ll really know how good a coach he *could* be given the cr$p front office moves to shape the squad over the past few years. Talent or depth isn’t there to compete, and wonder how much of a (if any) role Ben had over the past two years in assembling this squad.

  4. Not qualifying the Olympics with that roster of players he had still stings enough that I cannot yet vote for Porter for anything more prestigious than town dog catcher…even if he deserves it. Yes, it’s unreasonable. But yes, it’s a fact.

    • Haha, before I even finished your whole post, I was already planning to write a sarcastic “hmm, that sounds reasonable” response. But you beat me to it.

    • Speaking of the olympic qualifying tournament, I still can’t vote for Sean Johnson, Bill Hamid, Brek Shea (late turnover that led to tying goal) or countless others for any weekly MLS awards. Is that how this game is played?

    • I think it’s both true that Porter has said he is glad to have failed because he learned a lot from the experience, and that Porter’s strength is implementing a system – something that’s harder to do in a shorter-term setting like the Olympics. Remember, the decision to hire Porter was made during the 2012 season, so the Timbers already started making roster moves (Ricketts) and formation changes (from 4-4-2 to 4-3-3) when Wilkinson was the interim coach.

      I’m not suggesting Porter is any better than someone who failed with the Olympic squad, just that he knows it and part of the failure is due to his strength lying in player development.

  5. I’m not saying that Caleb Porter does not deserve to win this award this year, but I believe that Jason Kries’s efforts this year and the previous three years have been overlooked. I fear that he may end up like another great Utah coach who coached at a very high and elite level for many years and was never Coach of the Year: Jerry Sloan of the Utah Jazz. Just like Sloan, Kreis will probably continue to coach at a high and elite level for many years, but perhaps in each of those years another MLS coach will do something extraordinary and win it. Case in point, Frank Yallop won the award last year, and where is he now? Caleb Porter will probably not be out of a job like Yallop is this year, but will he be able to sustain success like Kreis has? He may very well be capable of that, and I would be happy for him and the Timbers if that were the case. I just wonder what it takes for Kreis to bag this award. Another championship? Another historic run in CONCACAF Champion’s League? Another year of leading MLS with a roster full of unheard of/new and previously considered washed up players?

    • It is kind of sheisty Kreis never won it. In 2008, his RSL turnaround was overshadowed by Sigi and Columbus’ run. In 2009, Bruce won it for turning around a bad Galaxy team while RSL actually underperformed during the regular season (relative to the year before) on their way to winning it all. Maybe he deserved it in 2010, but got pipped by Schellas making huge sides with Dallas. So yeah, it’s a tough nut to crack and the award (like many) rewards big turnarounds. Unfortunately for Kreis, it was a steady build and then he’s managed to sustain it. RSL could win the shield, USOC, and MLS Cup this year and Porter will still win it if Portland rides into the playoffs in one of the top 3 spots in the West.

      • The thing that drives me nuts about Bruce winning in the award in 2009 and 2011 is, well, just look at his roster. LD and Becks, et al.? He should be winning lots of matches with those guys. Of course, Yallop and Ruud failed with that roster, but Bruce also brought in a lot of guys to support them.

      • I think you overlook how he builds and handles the rest of the roster, and how he creates a team. If it was simply money, Red Bulls would be winning too.

      • Granted Bruce has managed a tricky locker room and uncovered some gems, but I think most people would agree that what Jason Kreis has done with RSL is much more difficult and impressive on balance. I’m not saying Bruce is not a good, or excellent coach; his record and rings prove that alone. But judging by the talent he has at his fingertips versus what Jason Kreis has created, I think Jason has done a more admirable job.

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