Columbus Crew SC announced that on Friday that the club have appointed Caleb Porter as head coach and Tim Bezbatchenko as president,. Porter has been without a club since mutually agreeing to part ways with the Portland Timbers after the 2017 season while Bezbatchenko officially departed Toronto FC on Thursday. MLSsoccer.com's Sam Stejskal was the first to report that Bezbatchenko would become president of the Crew.
Porter enjoyed a successful five-season stint in Portland from 2013-17, winning the 2015 MLS Cup and guiding the team to playoff berths in three of the five seasons he was in charge, with an overall record of 68-50-52. He has been oft-named in coaching searches whenever a job has opened since his departure, including reportedly being "deep in negotiations" with the LA Galaxy earlier in December.
“We are thrilled to have secured Tim Bezbatchenko and Caleb Porter to lead Columbus Crew SC,” said The Crew SC Investor-Operator group in a statement. “Tim's track record in building a successful team, including an MLS Cup in 2017, along with his experience on both the league-side and club-side of Major League Soccer make him uniquely qualified to serve as President and provides strong leadership. Caleb has been a proven winner every place he has coached and like Tim won an MLS Cup in 2015. He has a deep understanding of how to build formidable and successful programs and is well respected for his soccer acumen and development of players. With Tim and Caleb sharing some Ohio roots, we feel they are the perfect fit as we move into a new era of Crew soccer.”
Bezbatchenko masterminded TFC's rise to the top of the Eastern Conference after taking over in 2013, a period in which the club won he MLS Cup, Supporters’ Shield and Canadian Championship treble in 2017 as well as the Concacaf Champions League final in 2018. He signed Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley during his time in Toronto. He will lead both the club’s business and soccer operations arms.
“It is a tremendous honor to be joining Columbus Crew SC in this opportunity to lead the first Club in Major League Soccer,” said Bezbatchenko. “It is a new era in Columbus and with the stewardship of The Edwards Family and The Haslam Family, I am excited to get started as we make our quest for championship titles, deep engagement with the supporters and the community and a commitment to continually give back to the City. My family and I are thrilled for the opportunity to return to Central Ohio and to be a part of this organization and its bright future on the business and soccer side alike. Today, our organization also wants to welcome Caleb Porter as the Head Coach of The Crew as he brings substantial experience and success in Major League Soccer as well as a bright soccer mind that will serve this team well. On behalf of Crew SC, we look forward to continuing to prepare for the 2019 season and we cannot wait to welcome all the supporters to MAPFRE Stadium on March 2 for our Opening Match in what I’m certain will be an electric atmosphere.”
Porter will succeed Gregg Berhalter, who was recently named the US men’s national team head coach after five years as Columbus’ head coach and sporting director.
“I am honored to join Columbus Crew SC, a club with a rich history in Major League Soccer and a city with great appreciation for its beloved club dating back to 1996,” said Porter. “It is exciting to be part of the vision that The Edwards Family and The Haslam Family have in mind for Crew SC and I look forward to working closely with Tim to build on the success the team has had in recent years. In the days and weeks ahead, I am eager to return to Ohio and begin working with our players and staff to prepare for the upcoming season. I look forward to meeting the dedicated supporters of the club and the chance for my family to be a part of this wonderful community is something that inspires me, as is the opportunity to work each day towards bringing a trophy to the City of Columbus.”
Prior to making the jump to MLS, Porter built a powerhouse college program at the University of Akron, about a two-hour drive from his new job in Columbus, from 2006-2012. At Akron, Porter won a national title in 2010 and compiled a 119-18-17 record. Bezbetchenko worked as senior director of player relations and competition for MLS before being hired by TFC.