well the worst kept secret in major league soccer has finally been acknowledged, as merritt and gavin announced caleb porter would be the next head coach of the timbers. perhaps i am in the minority, but i really had hoped merritt would announce a coach no one had discussed--a shot from left field. instead, he went with the fella we all knew he would. as much i would have enjoyed the twatterverse explosion, the choice of caleb porter really is preferable to any drama on #rctid.
i think the timbers have done well for themselves. sure, he is not pep guardiola (and pep is no jurgen klopp), but like pep and jurgen he is a student of the game, constantly learning, devoted to the sport, and a solid human being. merritt repeatedly acknowledged these qualities throughout the press conference. getting the obvious out of the way, merritt jumped into the discussion of porter's character:
Not the best kept secret over the last couple of days, but this is a great moment for us. A lot of work went into the announcement that we just made. It is a bit unusual not having a formal presser with the new coach here. It is critical to Caleb that this announcement not be a distraction from what he is focused on with the Zips right now: winning an NCAA title. It is a testament to his character.
yeah, it is, and the reflection on this organization's decision to disrupt the team midway through the season is glaring. even when taking a job that will advance his career and his visibility, porter remained with the kids he developed. a similar choice could have been made by the front office in july. unless those philosophical differences were so disparate that sacrificing continuity and results to begin the transformation into porterball was easily reconciled. but then perhaps the differences were simply two egos that got in the way of the queen's english. regardless, by the comments made yesterday it seems clear that gavin was either looking for and found a little buddy or he and spencer spared too much and too often.
It's nice to have somebody in that I feel very comfortable working with and looking forward to the future of Caleb being here.
i am sure when reading that quote the very cynical will suggest that gavin has found his puppet. i know that i did. but then i read the rest of his statement and began to ask questions i had never asked. has gavin softened? is there really a person in there? does he actually want a collaborative experience at the timbers? because the way he describes porter's expected position and influence in the club resembles a man who has a reasonable level of acceptance and faith in his colleague.
It gives us a joint partner in evaluating the current talent that we have and also looking at the direction going forward and what we have going forward. ... For me, it was very easy communicate with him about the team, about individual players. We agreed on a couple of things and disagreed, and the disagreements were very healthy.
that last portion was shocking. perhaps there is growth in the organization after all, or maybe gavin is open to change. or, maybe, just maybe, gavin realizes he has met someone he cannot hoodwink into believing he is better equipped than he is. regardless, if these pronouncements are true, i am optimistic.
as i have discussed on several occasions, porter is a student of the sport. and when football educations are concerned study-abroad coursework at la masia is like receiving a rhodes scholarship in comparison to the grounds of wellington. that education can only impress an ivy league educated owner, who was insistent on inflating porter's intelligence, stating "this is a coach who is a cerebral coach, a great leader, a great tactician. He is extremely reflective."
regardless of whether this is actual regard for the new head coach or simply lip service for the press, porter is starting his new position in december. and with that expectations are likely to follow. but it appears the expectations placed on this season will no longer be the tools of assessment for a successful campaign in the future. rather than stating he expects a coach, who has won a national championship and who has taken his team to the ncaa playoffs 4 times since taking the position in 2006, to deliver the timbers an immediate playoff berth, merritt was more reserved in his expectations.
I think that he is poised to do some great things, but we have got to give this some time to grow as well. That is something that I want to be clear about from day one as well.
those words express a disparate sentiment than the mandated playoff berth with which he yoked spencer. perhaps through the lessons of the first year and half, and now the gavin part deux experiment, the owner has learned to have realistic expectations rather than pipe dreams. personally, i hope he holds himself to this nebulous timeline of growth. if he does, i think the disappointment and resentment developed from this failed season may be averted next season so we can get back to this feeling.
have a great day. oh, tomorrow is friday which means magadh will have some pre-match blag about them rapids in rapid decline. hopefully we can close the 2 point gap and overtake stan kroenke's other team.
for the full transcript of yesterday's announcement, head over to stumptown footy.