It has been seven months since the shocking and perplexing resignation of Caleb Porter from the Portland Timbers. And in that amount of time, outside of the banal platitudes from Caleb thanking the city of Portland and Timbers management for the time, we have yet to hear anything of substance from the man. Timbers owner, Merritt Paulson and general manager Gavin Wilkinson have also been fairly mum on the situation. My assumption was that they were as caught off guard by the move as the rest of us.
Even more surprising, we have yet to hear any rumblings from people behind the scenes. My assumption was that one of the various soccer news breakers would have a story in the following months about what led to the departure. Taylor Twellman, Grant Wahl, Brian Straus, Alexi Lalas, none of these guys have said one iota about it.
Plenty of thoughts and conspiracies were kicked around at the time. One hypothesis was Caleb wanted to have more player personnel involvement and was rebuffed by management. If true, it would be a fair request given his success at the club. Another was that Porter was unhappy with not being able to bring on his own handpicked assistants. The majority of the staff under him were holdovers from previous coach, John Spencer. One would presume that after five years of working in tandem with this group, a rapport was established and a working relationship was in full order.
A third rumor floating around was that Porter had his eyes on the FC Cincinnati gig, given their move from the USL to MLS was all but assured. Presumably, Porter and his family had the urge to be back in Ohio, where he had a successful collegiate career. Undoubtedly, he would have the red carpet rolled out for him in Cincinnati, being able to build his own staff and essentially build the roster from scratch. While the prospect is enticing, I am not so sure that is the case either.
Perhaps Porter would have interest, but who is to say FC Cincy would be so quick to cut ties with current head coach, Alan Koch? FCC had a remarkably successful U.S. Open Cup run last year with Koch leading the way, advancing to the semi-finals and only narrowly losing 3-2 to the New York Red Bulls. Would FCC be so inclined to ditch their up and coming coach for Porter? Maybe. Would Porter have any interest in such a move? Who knows? That is the quandary here, none of us have heard a peep from him to know one way or the other.
I would gladly welcome Caleb Porter manning a sideline in Major League Soccer again. Yes, he has plenty of supporters and detractors, but love him or hate him the man knows X’s and O’s and his subtle candor is an aspect of Porter I embrace. An MLS with Caleb Porter is a better MLS for all. So Caleb, where are you? What is next for you? Come on out and say hello! You are sorely missed!