Surrounded by family, friends, former players, current players, university staff, and fans, Caleb Porter had an emotional farewell to his University of Akron community last night in a special goodbye ceremony on campus. The Akron Beacon Journal's Maria Ridenour was on hand to write about it:
University of Akron President Luis Proenza began coughing midway through his tribute to departing men’s soccer coach Caleb Porter on Wednesday night at InfoCision Stadium, prompting a member of the catering staff to deliver water to the podium.
“It’s not my throat, it’s my emotion,” Proenza said.
Those feelings eventually overcame Proenza. While recalling the celebration after UA captured the school’s first team national championship in Santa Barbara, Calif., in 2010, Proenza said Porter gathered his players and delivered “one of the most impassioned, emotional communications of teamwork and family that I’ve heard.”
Recalling the scene and Porter’s words, Proenza broke down and cried.
“I don’t know why, it’s been two years,” Proenza said as Porter came onto the riser to hug him.
Even after the two-hour event ended, Proenza couldn’t explain what had happened, barely able to choke out a few words about the special bond he felt with Porter.
Watch the powerful moment in question at the 4:50 mark:
With Darlington Nagbe scheduled to get married on Saturday in Cleveland, he came to the event along with numerous MLS players including Seattle's Steve Zakuani, Houston's Kofi Sarkodie, and more. Calling all of his current, former, and any past Zip players up with him to the podium, Porter was gracious and emotional.
"This program has a long tradition of excellence," he said. "It’s bigger than any coach, any player."
It is clear that Porter had a tremendous impact on numerous individuals both on and off the field and established a dedicated spirit of energy and success while in Akron.
That spirit is one that his successor, Jared Embick, will now takeover having been elevated from assistant coach to head coach. The New York Times Goal blog delves into that challenge and Akron's hope of continued success.
But as Porter and Akron turn the page on his time there, Portland remains ever eager on his Rose City arrival.
Dan Itel, MLSsoccer.com Timbers beat writer (and Hillsboro Argus sports writer), has a strong commentary piece today on MLSsoccer.com about the recent flurry of Timbers trades and moves. Looking back at the expansion year and taking it through to Caleb Porter's hiring plus the last two weeks of moves--as well as some looks into the future--Itel says the new makeup is a markedly different direction than two seasons ago.
It’s why the Wilkinson-Porter team shored up the midfield with road-tested guys like [Will] Johnson and [Michael] Harrington – more no-nonsense, less step-over. And Porter’s fingerprints were all over Wednesday’s acquisition of forward Ryan Johnson and goalkeeper Milos Kocic in a trade for promising young ‘keeper Joe Bendik as well.
Johnson is a proven talent in the league – he’s bounced around a bit but established himself as a double-digit scoring threat every season in the right system – and Kocic should be a worthy challenger to incumbent Donovan Ricketts.
Itel grants that questions remain but overall believes Portland is aiming for "Less gambles, more guile. Get used to it."
It is not every day that your local paper does a Sunday editorial about the local college soccer team. Sure, you might hear about the local football team heading to the conference title, or how the baseball team won a championship.
It is also not every day that that editorial celebrates the style of play that said local college soccer established and how that innovation can impact an entire city.
But that is just what Akron Beacon Journal editorial page editor Michael Douglas did today. While watching the NCAA College Cup, even though one of his own alma maters made the final, Douglas laments the absence of Caleb Porter's Akron Zips and the creative way that they play. Going on to discuss the tremendous impact Porter had in not only creating a unique style but then explaining what that meant to Akron as a community, Douglas is proud of Porter's accomplishments in establishing an overall desire for innovation across industries in the city, admiring of his decision to take on new challenges with the Portland Timbers, and certain that the legacy of "Porterball" will remain in Akron.
What leaves the strongest impression is the style of play. Akron long won respect for its soccer program, from Stu Parry to Ken Lolla. Porter elevated things dramatically, with his possession game, elegant and attacking, college soccer with a new element of purpose and plain fun to watch.
Watch the Zips play, and the echoes are apparent, of the “total football” of Johann Cruyff, the brilliant Dutch star, now in his 60s. The more current comparison is Barcelona, where the likes of Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez and Lionel Messi break down the opposition with their relentless short and exact passes.
The achievement of Porter resides in his innovation, applying these principles, building on the strengths already here and producing something new. Possess the ball, and the other side chases, as you play offense and defense at the same time. Porter has talked about the Zips wanting the role of the “deciding” side, dictating the flow and the opportunities.
. . . . .
The word “revolution” may be too much. But we have been watching a remaking of the game.
“This is Akron” is the cry. It points to what is distinctive, the soccer here what you cannot get elsewhere.
And it carries a wider lesson. What must Akron and other aging industrial cities do to prosper? They must build on their core strengths. They must keep and attract talent, Porter reaching across the country, from Washington state to Texas, from Massachusetts to Colorado.
In addition, they must be organized for innovation and distinction.
It is an essential read into learning just how much Porter meant to the Akron community but also a testament to what his soccer vision could mean to his new home in Portland.
Now that Caleb Porter's time at the University of Akron is drawing to a close, Marla Ridenour, a sports columnist with the Akron Beacon Journal, sat down with soon-to-be new Portland Timbers head coach to ask him about his time with the Zips, his plans for Portland, and why he made the big move west.
In short, he was looking for a new rush.
The turning point came when he coached the US U-23s national team last spring.
“It gave me a taste of that rush and it’s unlike anything else,” Porter said Wednesday during a half-hour interview in his UA office. “There’s more pressure, but there’s more reward, too. I like that. I like a challenge. I’m not afraid of pressure.
“Even the rush of having to finesse the players, the management. I need that. I need to wake up every day feeling nervous, almost like I’ve got to be at my best, otherwise I get bored. It was very different the way I was feeling; it was like when I came here seven years ago.”
It's an excellent read to learn more into the insight of the new Timbers coach and what makes him tick as well as what his hopes for the future are.
“I try to be the best I can be. I try not to give a day away. I try not to slip,” he said. “In some ways it’s a madness, but that’s the way that I live. I don’t want to look at myself in the mirror at the end of the day and think, ‘I wasn’t good today.’ I try to instill that in my players.
“I’m very uncomfortable being comfortable. I want to grow, I want to get better, I want to push myself, I want to be challenged, I want to feel pressure, I want to wake up every day knowing I have to be at my best. That’s what makes me tick.”
Go read the whole thing at Ohio.com and check out the photo album of Porter in his UA of Akron office as well.
“Well, there’s a lot of pain in that locker room over there, a lot of emotion. I feel the same. I don’t think this is anything we saw coming.”
Those were the words of an emotional University of Akron head coach Caleb Porter following his Zips' suprise 5-4 loss on penalties to Creighton in the 2012 NCAA College Cup third round match at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field.
Tied 1-1 after 90 minutes via an Akron 12th minute goal from 2012 Zips breakout star Reinaldo Brenes and a Creighton 83rd minute equalizer from Timo Pitter, neither team was able to find another goal after the two overtime periods. Despite outshooting the Bluejays 31-11 for the match and 11-2 in the extra periods, the Zips could not pull out the win. Their best chance came in the first overtime period when Akron was given a penalty after a Creighton handball in the box. Zips captain Scott Caldwell struck the ball well only to be foiled by a strong save from Creighton's keeper.
It was a surprising and abrupt end not only to the Zips’ incredible season but also to Porter’s seven years in Akron.
Though the match meant the end of this phase of Porter’s career and he will be met by an eager Timbers fan base excited for his time to begin in Portland, it was a loss that was definitely felt hard.
To put Porter’s accomplishments at UA in perspective, here’s some numbers to consider:
-He finished his Akron career with a seven-year record of 123-18-17
-During his watch, Akron posted the highest winning percentage among all Division I schools
-Porter led the Zips to the school's first team national championship in any sport in 2010 and became one of the fastest coaches in NCAA history to reach 100 career wins in 2011
-The Zips' 18 wins in 2012 included 16 shutouts
-Akron allowed just eight goals in 22 matches this year
Needless to say, Porter leaves behind a formidable legacy. The Akron Beacon Journal has a nice recap of the match as well as a photo gallery of the difficult night in Akron.
But Porter wasn’t the only Timbers connection in the match. The 12th seeded Creighton side that beat the Zips featured two Timbers U-23s players in senior co-captain Andrew Ribeiro—who assisted on the game-tying goal and converted his penalty kick in the shootout—as well US U-20s defender Eric Miller. The Bluejays now move on to face 4th seeded UConn.
That duo, along with Louisville’s Brock Granger, are the only remaining Timbers U-23s left in the tournament. The Cardinals eliminated Northwestern 2-1 on Sunday and next take on 2nd seeded Maryland in the Elite Eight.
For a full bracket of the tournament, visit NCAA.com.
Caleb Porter and the Akron Zips began their quest for the 2012 NCAA Championship with a 2-1 victory over the Univ. of Michigan Sunday afternoon in front of 3,264 fans at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field.
Led by goals from Eric Stevenson (right) and Thomas Schmitt, the victory kept UA undefeated at home this season (10-0-1) as well as a perfect 6-0-0 against Big Ten schools. They have not lost at home in five years.
Porter spoke postgame about what it meant to win this game:
Senior Zips goalkeeper David Meves made four saves on the day and with a full 90 minutes on the pitch, he became the NCAA's all-time minutes leader with 8,498 over his four-year career. Meves already holds the NCAA the record for all-time shutouts.
The Akron Beacon Journal’s Marla Ridenour has a great profile on Meves. In her observations of the game, she wrote about a diving stop Meves made early in the match on a shot destined for the upper corner, “If keepers could fly, Meves had wings. ‘Yeah, I got up there a little bit,’ Meves admitted.”
Next up, on Nov. 25 Porter and the Zips host 12th seeded Creighton who defeated the University of Washington 4-2 yesterday in Omaha. Timbers U-23s Eric Miller (also a US U-20 national team member) and Andrew Ribeiro featured for the Jays in that match as did goalkeeper Spencer Richey who started for UW.
The opening matches of the 2012 NCAA College Cup tournament got underway today--Michigan State beat Cleveland State 2-1 while Virginia downed Lafayette 1-0--and there are numerous teams in the full field of 48 that are the beloved alma maters of Portland Timbers players:
Eric Alexander - Indiana University with the No. 16 seed
Freddie Braun - Louisville with the No. 10 seed
Bright Dike - Notre Dame with the No. 1 seed
David Horst - Old Dominion
Andrew Jean-Baptiste - UConn with the No. 4 seed
Jack Jewsbury - Saint Louis University with the No. 8 seed
Kosuke Kimura - Western Illinois
Darlington Nagbe - Univ. of Akron with the No. 5 seed (more on that in a bit)
Brent Richards - Univ. of Washington
Chris Taylor - Univ. of Tulsa with the No. 11 seed
Rodney Wallace - Univ. of Maryland with the No. 2 seed
Clearly, the college game is still churning out talent.
But in that mix of seeds, the placement of Akron at No. 5 did leave some scratching their heads. Future Portland Timbers head coach Caleb Porter's Zips finished ranked No. 1 on numerous national polls and yet still missed out on a Top 4 seed. While they will host their first match and possibly second, to get to the final four, they'll have to go on the road--most likely against UConn. Their seeding has drawn some questions--most noticably from the Akron Beacon Journal.
While Porter was a bit "ticked off," he's focused on winning the whole thing,“Once that wears off though, it is back to business. For me it comes down to we have to win five games to win the national championship. It just so happens the road could be a little tougher.”
(The initial post listed 10 mistakenly omitting Eric Alexander's Indiana. Thanks to @IUMensSoccer for the correction.)
Caleb Porter and the University of Akron Zips cruised to their ninth Mid-America Conference Tournament Championship overall and fifth in the last six seasons with a 2-0 victory over Northern Illinois University yesterday. Goals by Wil Trapp and Saad Abdul-Salaam led the way.
The game extended the Zips' run of 47 games without a loss in MAC play—a streak that goes all the way back to 2007. Prior to beating NIU, UA was victorious in the tournament semifinals on Friday with a 5-0 mauling of Bowling Green.
The Zips, who posted their 16th shutout of the season on Sunday, have won their last 14 games and are unbeaten in their 15. UA has earned a clean sheet in each of its last six matches and has allowed just goal in its last 1,361 minutes of play.
Listen to to head coach Porter talk about the championship win and watch highlights from the game:
Fresh from their big win, UA went on to acquire the 5th seed in the 2012 NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Championship tournament. With the high seed, they receive a bye into the second round and will host the winner of Niagra and the University of Michigan on Nov. 18. Bright Dike’s alma mater, Notre Dame, received the No. 1 seed in the tournament.
The Portland Pilots women had an emotional weekend themselves as they pulled out a win on penalties against the Washington State Cougars Friday night at Merlo Field in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Pilots junior goalkeeper Erin Dees made three (!) saves during the penalty shootout before WSU’s final attempt flew over the bar.
The Pilots had fallen behind twice before rallying to draw even at 2-2. WCC Defender of the Year Kendall Johnson—who played her high school soccer in the shadow of JELD-WEN Field at Lincoln High—got Portland on the scoreboard just before the half while Michelle Cruz found the equalizer.
Watch the thrilling highlights and see Dees’ string of saves here:
UP next face Michigan at State College, PA on Friday, Nov. 16 in the next round of the NCAA tournament.
Anticipation and expectations run high this weekend as the University of Akron Zips gear up to host the MAC Championship tournament this weekend. It also means the end is nearing for head coach Caleb Porter for his time there before taking over the reins at Portland.
The NCAA tournament still looms large on the horizon for the Zips but for four seniors--goalkeeper David Meves, midfielder Scott Caldwell, defender Chad Barson and forward Thomas Schmitt--their time at UA is also drawing to a close. All four were part of the 2010 College Cup championship team--alongside Timbers midfielder Darlington Nagbe--and also help symbolize the type of soccer Porter has built during his time with the Zips.
"It’s fitting that they’re graduating in my last year as well, because I feel like they embody a lot of the qualities that I really want Akron soccer to be known for.”
College soccer expert Travis Clark and has a great piece inTopDrawerSoccer.com on what this season has meant to Porter and his senior class. Go read it.