Portland Timbers' Porter named MLS Coach of Year

Team reaches playoffs in his first season at helm

By Paul Danzer, Columbian community sports reporter

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Caleb Porter's mission is to win trophies.

His Portland Timbers came up just short of that goal in Porter's first season as the team's coach.

But the coach did get a nice honor for taking the Timbers to the brink of a championship.

Major League Soccer on Monday announced that Porter won its Coach of the Year Award for 2013.

Porter, 38, beat out New York Red Bulls coach Mike Petke -- also a first-year head coach -- to win the honor. Voting by MLS club management personnel, MLS players and media members who cover the league determined the winner. Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis and Colorado coach Oscar Pareja were the other finalists.

Porter and Petke each received 30.61 percent of the votes by club management. Porter received 58.44 percent of media votes and 37.23 percent of player votes.

Voting was based on the regular season.

Taking over a team that had eight wins, 16 losses and 10 draws in 2012, Porter guided the Timbers to the third best record in the MLS this regular season.

The Timbers finished atop the Western Conference with 14 wins, five losses and 15 draws. They finished with 57 points, and improved their goal differential by an MLS-record 43 goals.

The five losses, only one of them at home, tied for the fewest in a 34-game MLS regular season. The 57 points were the most earned by a first-year head coach in MLS since the league's inaugural season in 1996. The Timbers' 15-game unbeaten streak was the longest by an MLS head coach in his first full season at the helm.

"It was absolutely remarkable what these players did this year in 10 months," Porter said on Nov. 24 after the Timbers' loss to Real Salt Lake in the MLS Cup Western Conference Finals. "This team has set a standard in a short amount of time and it's only the beginning. Our goal is to raise trophies, first and foremost. This was a great year, but in the end we didn't raise a trophy. So we're going to keep pushing for that."

Also on Monday, New England defender Kevin Alston was named MLS Comeback Player of the Year. Alston, 25, left the Revolution in April when he was diagnosed with a treatable form of leukemia. He returned to the team less than four months later.

On Tuesday, MLS will anounce its Best XI for 2013. On Wednesday, the goalkeeper of the year and the newcomer of the year will be announced. On Thursday, the MVP award, goal of the year and the save of the year are scheduled to be announced.