PORTLAND, Ore. --- Caleb Porter will no longer be the head coach of the Portland Timbers.
The Timbers released an official announcement Friday morning. Here is Porter's official statement:
“I would like to begin by giving special thanks to my owner and friend Merritt Paulson for providing me with the opportunity to lead the Portland Timbers these past five seasons,” said Porter. “Also, a big thanks to Hank and Wendy Paulson, Heather Paulson and Gavin Wilkinson for the incredible support they have shown me, and for their tireless efforts on behalf of the Timbers. Everyone has made me and my family feel a part of the Timbers family from day one, and words truly can't express my gratitude for what this has meant to me.
“My goal in taking the Timbers job was to lead the club to new heights and to win things that had never been done by the organization,” Porter continued. “Looking back and reflecting on my time with the Timbers, I am very proud of the results we all achieved and I know that joining the club in 2013 was one of the best decisions of my life. I also am confident that the Timbers are poised for future success given the tremendous leadership of Merritt Paulson, Gavin Wilkinson and Mike Golub and the first-class level in which the club operates, both on- and off-the-pitch.
“I will never forget and cannot ever repay the fans, especially the Timbers Army, for their tremendous passion and unwavering support of myself, the players and the club. The supporters of the Portland Timbers are the lifeblood and soul behind what makes this club such a special place and bringing an MLS Cup trophy to Portland will be a memory I always will cherish, since you deserved it more than anyone!
“To the players, coaching staff and support staff it truly has been a remarkable five seasons and I am so thankful and proud for all that we have accomplished together. I will miss the day to day being in the trenches with you but the relationships and memories we’ve shared will last forever.
“Lastly, my wife, Andrea, and I have loved our time in this wonderful community and our family will miss the city of Portland immensely,” Porter concluded. “I’m emotional thinking about leaving but also look forward to what’s ahead in the next chapter of my career and our lives.”
Porter had signed a long-term extension with the Timbers in 2016. The news came as a surprise to many in Portland, including KGW sports commentator John Canzano.
"My last contact with Caleb Porter, he was talking about building for next year," Canzano said. "He was talking about how he felt he was close this year and you have to sniff around [a championship] a little bit before you breakthrough. So I think he felt like he was close, so it’s shocking to hear that he is now out and it’s by his choice."
Porter became the Timbers coach in 2013 and went 68-50-52 during his five seasons in the Rose City. Under Porter, the Timbers won the MLS Cup in 2015. This past season, they finished in first place in the Western Conference but were eliminated by the Houston Dynamo in the playoffs.
"This is Dr. Jack Ramsay leaving two years after riding in a parade down Broadway," Canzano said of Porter. "And I think Timbers fans need to start asking questions about what’s going on in the organization. Why would Caleb Porter, by his own volition reportedly, decide that he’s had enough and is going to do something else?"
Timbers owner Merritt Paulson provided this prepared statement:
"During Caleb’s five seasons with our club, we reached new heights and accomplished great things together. His commitment, passion and talent were essential in bringing many on-field successes to our supporters, our club and our city, most notably our first MLS Cup. More than that, he has been a friend whom I have enjoyed working with. I respect Caleb’s decision to seek his next challenge. He leaves Portland with a lasting legacy valued by everyone associated with the club, and I wish him nothing but success in the future. With our next on-field leader, we look forward to building on the Timbers’ winning tradition and to setting the course for even greater achievements in the seasons ahead. Caleb leaves a strong club foundation and we are well-positioned to manage this departure.”
General Manager Gavin Wilkinson said "Caleb departs with my utmost respect and admiration . . . he will forever be the head coach that brought Portland its first MLS Cup . . . "
Soccer reporter Caitlin Murray says Porter and the front office disagreed about the future direction of the team.
Canzano said if reports of a power struggle are true, it makes sense.
"When you look at Caleb Porter, you look at Merritt Paulson and the Timbers, you got a lot of egos in the same room for a five-year period," he said. "I think a lot of people know that the same kind of qualities it takes to win big in Major League Soccer and professional sports are exactly the kind of qualities that implode a relationship like that."