After busy soccer week in Rose City, Portland Timbers head coach honored for 2014 MLS All-Star opportunity
PORTLAND, Ore. – While Portland Timbers midfielder Will Johnson was named to MLS All-Star head coach Peter Vermes’ gameday roster earlier today, next year’s MLS All-Star coach, Caleb Porter, is already excited for his own opportunity to coach in the 2014 event when it will be held at JELD-WEN Field in the Rose City.
“It’s an honor, a tremendous honor as a second-year pro coach to be able to lead the brightest stars in MLS,” Porter told the media following last Wednesday’s press conference at the stadium with MLS commissioner Don Garber, team owner Merritt Paulson and mayor Charlie Hales announcing Portland as the game’s host city. “And obviously do it at JELD-WEN, a place that is obviously very special to me now, it’s a great chance to showcase our club. It’s great for the community.”
Though the host city’s club coach automatically serves as the All-Star coach, the announcement happened to coincide with a spectacular week of soccer in Portland. Last Tuesday, the U.S. Men’s National team throttled Belize 6-1 in Gold Cup action at a packed JELD-WEN Field hours after Timbers midfielder Rodney Wallace and his Costa Rica team beat Cuba 3-0.
Just a few days after the All-Star announcement Porter and his team turned in a thrilling 2-1 victory over two-time defending MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy complete with a game-winning stoppage-time goal. Defender Andrew Jean-Baptiste’s 94th minute goal ignited joyous pandemonium throughout the stadium and across the city.
“I knew it was a special place, but I didn’t probably understand the magnitude of just how special it is,” Porter said of his new hometown. “I’ve said before, one of my greatest moments is walking around the stadium after a win and seeing the joy from the fans and the crowd. That’s why I take the time to do it because it’s one of the most enjoyable things as a coach here.”
Though All-Star games are generally light on strategic maneuvering, Porter didn’t miss a chance to express his desire to give the fans a good show while letting the players do their thing.
“The more fun you have the better you play, so we’ll certainly have fun and enjoy it,” he said. “And hopefully we’ll be organized in a way that gives us a chance to do well. And more than anything I want it to be entertaining. I like to attack, so we’ll attack and have fun and hopefully it’s a barnburner, and if we win great. But at the very least we have to showcase these guys’ talent and score goals and make it fun for the fans regardless of what the outcome is.”
Porter said the All-Star announcement is a tribute to the Timbers’ passionate following.
“The environment, and I’ve said this and people will argue it, but I think it’s the best environment in North America,” he said.
He added: “It’s a great tribute to Soccer City U.S.A.”
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com.