PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) The Portland Timbers have interviewed multiple candidates and hope to have a new coach in place by the end of the year.
The team parted ways with Caleb Porter this month after five seasons with the team. Porter compiled a 68-50-52 record and guided the team to an MLS Cup championship in 2015. This past season, the Timbers finished atop the Western Conference.
Team owner Merritt Paulson said Wednesday the search is well underway and ”to say there’s significant interest in the position is an understatement.”
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”I don’t have a specific timeline to provide other than to say but in a perfect world we will have identified the candidate to be the next coach by the end of this year,” Paulson said. ”But the decision won’t be made unless there’s confidence in the fit. In the meantime, this isn’t going to slow down soccer decisions this offseason. ”
Gavin Wilkinson, the team’s general manager, said Portland is ideally looking for someone who has been a head coach, with Major League Soccer experience or knowledge. The coach’s style must fit with the way the Timbers have been built, he said.
”We need somebody who can step in, understanding who our players are and not spend several months figuring our players’ best positions, our players’ best attributes,” Wilkinson said. ”We want someone who can hit the ground running.”
The objective in the search was to narrow the field to five or six top candidates, then ”compare and contrast,” Wilkinson said. There’s no firm deadline because the team doesn’t want to rush.
Porter, 42, was named the MLS Coach of the Year after his first season with the team in 2013. He signed a long-term contract extension with the team in January 2016.
The Timbers finished this season as the top seed in the Western Conference but fell in the conference semifinals 2-1 on aggregate to the Houston Dynamo. The Timbers were decimated by injuries in the semis, including to midfielder Diego Chara, who broke a bone in his foot.
”I’d say that five years is a long tenure as a head coach with any pro soccer club. And the Timbers were fortunate to have Caleb over that time,” Paulson said. `The club matured and developed over that period and we had some terrific success.”