PORTLAND -- Caleb Porter didn't even hesitate when I posed a late-game scenario which guaranteed the Timbers at least a one point draw. Then he was asked if he'd still try to attack to get the three-point win.
"No question," he said. "You play to win. You have to be smart, but for me, you're not playing to a tie."
Porter will get to test his aggressive style for the first time in a regular-season match on Sunday March 3 when his Timbers open the season at home against the New York/New Jersey Red Bulls.
It'll be his first regular-season match in the coaches' box. But not his first inside Jeld-Wen Field.
"I was blown away watching that game," he said of a match he attended before being named the team's second head coach in its three-year Major League History history.
"For me it was eye-opening to see how passionate the Timbers Army were. Loved the chants, and when I had the opportunity to look at this job, that was a big factor," he said.
Raw interview: Timbers coach Caleb Porter
Porter enjoyed tremendous success in his previous post as head coach at Akron University. He never had less than a first-place conference finish, and led the Zips to the 2010 NCAA National Championship.
A shot at the same MLS glory is what made him leave college for the pros. And he knows those Army members won't settle for less.
"They want to see an attack-oriented team -- players who will roll up their sleeves and put up a fight, work hard and have a swagger," he said of the team he wants to trot onto the field for the next 34-regular season matches.
"We're hopeful we'll make the playoffs eventually. I can't guarantee anything this year, but we're going to have high expectations. And if we don't make the playoffs, I'm going to be disappointed, and so will they (the fans), and I understand that," he said.
Porter's predecessor, John Spencer, understood that as well. But here's where the two men differ. While Spencer was a media "darling," with his salty tongue and sense of humor (see his Alaska Airlines commercial spot). Porter says you won't catch him giving an pre-flight instructions about fastening seat belts.
"That's not me," he stressed. "I want to give soccer answers, and I think sometimes a Coach will use humor to deflect from the soccer. If you ask me a soccer question, you're going to get a soccer answer," he said.
That is true. Because when asked about the experience of watching Bobby Knight's basketball practices while attending Indiana, Porter did indeed give a soccer answer.
"I took more from my mentor Jerry Yeagley (the IU Soccer coach.) He was a master psychologist, and I firmly believe he could lead anything. I learned a lot from him about how to run a program,"he said.
Now he'll take what he learned and apply it to the Timbers. He's hoping it's more than enough to satisfy a fan base starving for a winner.
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