Columbus Crew SC are in a time of transition. There’s new ownership taking over operating rights to the club and with it there are new people in the front office running the show. On the field, Gregg Berhalter, who had been both the head coach and sporting director since 2014, departed to take over the U.S. Men’s National Team and Caleb Porter was appointed as his head coaching replacement.
With any transition, there comes change and that’s the case with Porter’s first Crew staff. Former Black & Gold assistant coaches Josh Wolff and Nico Estevez joined Berhalter with the national team and goalkeeper coach Pat Onstad is moving to the front office in a role under new president Tim Bezbatchenko.
On Friday, the Crew are expected to officially announce the club’s new coaching staff. Massive Report has already reported that Pablo Moreira, who worked with Porter both at Akron and with the Portland Timbers, and former New England Revolution goalkeeper and U.S. assistant Matt Reis will be part of the staff. Moreira will handle video work for the Black & Gold as well as working closely with the players while Reis will take over for Onstad as goalkeeper coach.
According to Porter, veteran coach Mike Matkovich will also be part of the staff.
“Mike Matkovich, who I’ve worked with as well, and I think is one of the most experienced coaches that I’ve seen,” Porter said on Wednesday. “He’s been in the league four different times with different managers. He has far more hours on the training pitch and in games than I do. I worked with him with the U-18 National Team and he’s a good coach.”
Matkovich’s previous stops include two stints with the Chicago Fire, as well as time with Toronto FC and Chivas USA. He was also the head coach of the United States Under-18 national team from 2009 to 2012 and won multiple coaching awards during his time with the Chicago Magic and Chicago Fire Juniors. He is known for his ability to work with and develop youth players and will bring that wealth of experience to the Crew’s staff.
“I stack him up with anybody I’ve worked with,” Porter said. “He has experience in youth development as well, which I feel is really important. He’s run clubs and started clubs in Chicago and worked with the Chicago Fire a bit. He’s been an assistant manager for four different head managers in this league. So he’ll be kind of my right-hand guy.”
Matkovich will meet the team in Chula Vista, California to continue preseason training beginning on Friday.
The other new face on Porter’s staff is former Crew Academy coach Ben Cross. After working with Empire United Soccer Academy in New York, Cross was hired to be the Black & Gold’s U-17/18 Academy head coach in 2016. Working with Estevez, Cross coached the likes of former Crew midfielder Ben Swanson and Maryland midfielder Eli Crognale.
“We’ll also have in preseason Ben Cross, as well, who’s an Academy coach who is highly regarded and is a guy that’s been put to my attention as someone that’s a really good, young, up-and-coming coach, talented and he was out there with us today,” Porter said.
Cross began his work with the Crew first team for the first two days of preseason in Columbus.
Porter’s first staff in Columbus is now complete. According to the new head coach, he likes to build his staff as he does his team with a mix of senior guys — Matkovich and Reis — “that have been through the wars” with a mix of youth “that bring energy and passion and talent.”
It seems Porter has accomplished what he set out to in quick time and now he, his staff and the players can focus on preparing for March 2 when the Crew begin the 2019 MLS season against the New York Red Bulls at MAPFRE Stadium.