Caleb Porter was announced today as the Major League Soccer 2013 Coach of the Year.
Quite an accomplishment given just one year in the League; for some telling statistics comparing the Timbers of last year to this year click this link to read the Timbers Official News Release.
What’s not included but critical to this year was his almost complete realignment of players and the management scheme taken to drive the organizational change on and off the pitch.
Bottom line here is that Portland experienced a near 50% turnover in roster; with a near 50% turnover in the starting 11, while completely reworking the attacking and defending philosophy of the organization.
In one short year Porter basically annulled the existence of any leftovers that Spencer might have had while completely replacing, creating and executing a new identity, not just on paper, but clearly observable on the pitch.
For me Porter’s selection represents a strong communication across MLS that the award can and should be won by Coaches who aren’t just blessed with a large wallet to buy skills and wins.
Other coaches this year I felt worked hard towards successful realignments or personnel changes included Jay Heaps, Peter Vermes, Jason Kreis, Oscar Pareja and Dominic Kinnear.
And while I have absolutely no influence in what criteria is used to determine a Coach of the Year I’ll throw out these thoughts to start a discussion…
- The outcome from the current year far exceeds the outcome from the previous year – in other words show me the ‘actual change’ in results and points in the league table between the previous year and this more recent year.
- That a change in player personnel isn’t simply about purchasing/keeping one or two designated players but more in line with some marked changes in approach/execution that shows artistic differences in play between the previous year and this most recent year.
- Some amount of measurable change in individual player personnel; either in quantity at the roster level or quality at the pitch level.
- An outcome from the most recent year showed a statistical difference, by some margin, between goals scored and/or goals against of the previous year.
In case you missed it my criteria doesn’t allow for coaches like Mike Petke to make a short list – and rightly so.
Petke was ‘gifted a roster’ of extremely talented players and his quick failure to succeed in the playoffs probably speaks louder and more to his weaknesses as a tactical head coach than to his regular season coaching strengths and his ability to see his team win points when they would normally be expected to win those league points.
Some may disagree but coaching great players does not mean the coach is a great coach…
In closing a rhetorical question or two for your consideration…
College soccer continues to get stronger but remains behind the bell curve in completely preparing soccer players for the MLS; when does College Soccer abandon the multiple substitution rule and play with added injury time?
It would seem reasonable to me that MLS can significantly improve its referee base if it works with college soccer to have their rules exactly match those of FIFA.
Wouldn’t it be interesting to see how well a College Soccer team might compete in the US Open Cup?