Wilkinson: Timbers to announce new coach hire this week

BEAVERTON, Ore. – The Portland Timbers appear to be just days away from beginning a new era.

Team owner Merritt Paulson, in addressing media during Tuesday’s training session at the team’s training facility, said he expects to announce the hiring of a new head coach “sometime this week.” He declined to provide a name, but a local report, citing an unnamed team source, said that current University of Akron men’s soccer head coach Caleb Porter was offered the job.

“It is something that we are very excited about, something that we put a lot of work into,” Paulson said. “I am thrilled with the guy that we’ve got.”

Porter, who has been the Zips head coach since 2006, coached current Timbers midfielder Darlington Nagbe at Akron. The two won a national title in 2010 and Porter has led the Zips to the NCAA Tournament in each of the past five seasons.

Portland selected Nagbe second overall in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft.

Porter also was the head coach of the United States Under-23 men’s national team, which failed to qualify for the Summer Olympics in London.

Whoever is hired will replace John Spencer, who was fired July 9 after a year-and-a-half on the job. Interim coach and general manager Gavin Wilkinson said he will remain at the helm of the team for the remainder of the season and the new coach would be brought on officially in December.

Porter certainly fits the bill of the description Wilkinson provided for the man who will become the second head coach in the club’s MLS existence.

“[He’s] an up-and-coming coach who has the ability and potential to become one of the best in the league,” Wilkinson said. “I think when you look at what we were looking for in a head coach, somebody who was cerebral, somebody that would process the game, somebody that would also develop the younger players, I think this coach gives us everything we need.”

Wilkinson said the frontrunner emerged from “quite an extensive list” of candidates. He said the club has been in discussions with their top pick for the past week.

“To get it to this stage this early I think is tremendous for the organization,” Wilkinson said.

Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at dcitel@hotmail.com.