COLUMBUS – Columbus Crew SC today announced that it has named Tim Bezbatchenko as its President and simultaneously announced Caleb Porter as its Head Coach. Bezbatchenko is set to lead both the Club’s business and soccer operations arms with Porter becoming the eighth Head Coach in Crew SC history. Additional details regarding media availability in Columbus for Bezbatchenko and Porter in the coming weeks are to be announced.
Bezbatchenko most recently served as Toronto FC’s Senior Vice President of Soccer Operations & General Manager from 2013-2018, leading the Reds to MLS Cup appearances in 2016 and 2017 with Toronto becoming the first MLS team to capture a domestic treble by winning MLS Cup, the MLS Supporters’ Shield and the Canadian Championship in 2017. Porter previously coached the Portland Timbers from 2013-2017, winning MLS Cup in 2015 and being named 2013 MLS Coach of the Year. In addition to coaching at the professional level, Porter served as Head Coach of the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team from 2011-2012 and Head Coach of the University of Akron from 2006-2012.
“We are thrilled to have secured Tim Bezbatchenko and Caleb Porter to lead Columbus Crew SC,” said The Crew SC Investor-Operator group. “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.”
A native of Westerville, Ohio, Tim Bezbatchenko, 37, was pivotal in helping Toronto FC sign key players such as 2015 Golden Boot winner and Landon Donovan MLS Most Valuable Player Sebastian Giovinco, England international Jermain Defoe and American internationals Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore. In addition to its 2017 domestic treble, notably, Toronto FC had four of its best seasons while Bezbatchenko was with the club (2014-2017), winning a total of three consecutive Canadian Championships (2016, 2017, 2018) and reaching the 2018 CONCACAF Champions League Finals. On the player development side, Bezbatchenko helped Toronto FC establish its United Soccer League club, TFC II, in 2015.
Before his time in Toronto, Bezbatchenko worked as the Senior Director of Player Relations and Competition for MLS from 2010-2013, a role in which he oversaw all MLS rosters, the MLS player pool and team salary budgets. Additionally, he was responsible for youth and player development initiatives for the League. Bezbatchenko served as an attorney for Shearman & Sterling LLP, in New York. He graduated from the University of Richmond with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Leadership Studies in 2004 and later from the University of Cincinnati College of Law in 2008.
“It is a tremendous honor to be joining Columbus Crew SC in this opportunity to lead the first Club in Major League Soccer,” said Crew SC President Tim 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.”
Caleb Porter, 43, served as the head coach of the Portland Timbers from 2013-2017, posting a 68-50-52 record while helping the club win an MLS Cup (2015), a Western Conference Championship (2015) and a Cascadia Cup (2017). In 2013, his first season as a professional soccer head coach, Porter led the Timbers to a first-place finish in the Western Conference - guiding the team to a 23-point improvement and a plus-43 goal-differential increase from the previous season and securing the club’s first postseason berth. For his performance as head coach during the 2013 regular-season, Porter was voted MLS Coach of the Year.
The following season, Porter led Portland to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Semifinals – the highest-ever finish for the club in the tournament – while also coaching the Timbers in the 2014-2015 CONCACAF Champions League, the club’s first international tournament. The 2014 season also saw Porter be named Head Coach for the MLS All-Star Team, guiding his side to a 2-1 victory over Bayern Munich of the German Bundesliga. In 2015, Porter won his first piece of professional silverware, as Portland won the Western Conference Championship en route to winning their first MLS Cup in a match-up against Crew SC. In 2016, Porter led the Timbers to a second-place finish in the group stage of the 2016-2017 CONCACAF Champions League, missing out on advancing to the knockout stage by just one point. The following year, Porter guided Portland to a Cascadia Cup – his first with the club – while also leading the team to another first-place finish in the Western Conference.
“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 Head Coach Caleb 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 his time in MLS, Porter, who holds a U.S. Soccer Federation “Pro” license, served as head coach of the University of Akron from 2006-2012. During that span, Porter compiled a record of 123-18-17, guiding Akron to one NCAA College Cup (2010), seven consecutive Mid-American Conference regular-season Championships (2006-2012) and four MAC Tournament titles (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012). Porter earned several honors during his tenure as Head Coach of the Zips, including National Soccer Coaches Association of America National Coach of the Year (2009), NSCAA All-Ohio Coach of the Year (2008, 2009, 2011) and MAC Coach of the Year (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012).
While head coach of the Zips, Porter also worked as the head coach of the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team from 2011-2012. Prior to that, he spent three years as an assistant coach on the U.S. U-18 National Team from 2009-2011, also while working for the Zips. Before coaching at the University of Akron, Porter served as an assistant coach at Indiana University from 2000-2005, helping the Hoosiers win back-to-back NCAA College Cups (2003, 2004), as well as five straight Big Ten Conference regular-season championships (2000-2004) and two Big Ten Conference Tournaments (2001, 2003).
Crew SC’s 2019 MLS Preseason begins on Wednesday, January 23, 2019 in Central Ohio after entrance physicals and testing. From there, the club departs to Chula Vista, California for its preseason camp. The Black & Gold are slated to remain in California through February 6 before returning to Columbus. The team will be in Central Ohio from February 7-12 before traveling to Charleston, South Carolina to participate in the 2019 Carolina Challenge Cup.
The Black & Gold begin the 2019 regular season at home and will face the defending Supporters’ Shield winners, the New York Red Bulls, at 4:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, March 2 at MAPFRE Stadium. 2019 Season Ticket Memberships are now on sale with additional information available via ColumbusCrewSC.com. A complete 2019 MLS schedule will be announced in the coming weeks. 2019 single-match tickets, promotion schedule and local broadcast information for Crew SC – including its 2019 Opening Match on March 2 – will also be announced at a later date.