Columbus Crew SC announced today the official hirings of both the club’s new head coach and its president. The Black & Gold confirmed Massive Report’s report of Caleb Porter as the new head coach and reports of Tim Bezbatchenko as the club’s new president.
“We are thrilled to have secured Tim Bezbatchenko and Caleb Porter to lead Columbus Crew SC,” The Crew SC Investor-Operator group said in a press release. “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.”
Massive Report originally reported that Porter would be the next Crew SC head coach, replacing Gregg Berhalter who was hired as the U.S. Men’s National Team head coach, in mid-December. Porter comes to the Black & Gold after a year away from the game, following five successful seasons with the Portland Timbers, including an MLS Cup championship over Columbus at MAPFRE Stadium.
Porter began his coaching career at the University of Akron in 2006, leading the Zips to the national championship in 2010. He left the college game for Major League Soccer in 2013 to take over the Timbers.
“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,” Porter said in the press release. “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.”
Bezbatchenko, a Westerville, Ohio native, joins Crew SC after serving as Toronto FC’s Senior Vice President of Soccer Operations & General Manager from 2013 to 2018. He was responsible for helping to build the Reds team that appeared in the 2016 and 2017 MLS Cup Final with Toronto winning the championship in the latter year. Under his watch, TFC became the first MLS history team to capture the domestic treble by winning MLS Cup, the MLS Supporters’ Shield and the Canadian Championship in 2017.
“It is a tremendous honor to be joining Columbus Crew SC in this opportunity to lead the first Club in Major League Soccer,” Bezbatchenko said in the press release. “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.”
This is the first official club moves of the new interim investor-operator group of former team doctor Pete Edwards and Cleveland Browns owner Dee and Jimmy Haslam. Earlier on Friday, it was announced that assistant coaches Josh Wolff and Nico Estevez were leaving the club to take assistant jobs under Berhalter with the national team.