The Columbus Crew has hired Caleb Porter as its new head coach and named Tim Bezbatchenko as president.
The moves come with a new ownership group led by Cleveland Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam in line to take over and plans in the works for a new downtown stadium.
“We are thrilled to have secured Tim Bezbatchenko and Caleb Porter to lead Columbus Crew SC,” said The Crew SC investor-operator group. “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.”
Welcome, Coach! 🤝 // #Crew96
— Columbus Crew SC (@ColumbusCrewSC) January 4, 2019
The Major League Soccer team was at risk of being moved to Austin, Texas, by its present owners Precourt Sports Ventures before the local group stepped in.
The 43-year-old Porter was head coach of the Portland Timbers from 2013-17, finishing there with a 68-50-52 record and on one MLS Cup crown. Previously, he was head soccer coach at the University of Akron from 2006-12, where he led the team to the 2010 NCAA championship.
The 37-year-old Bezbatchenko, who was born in Westerville, Ohio, was Toronto FC’s vice president of soccer operations and general manager from 2013-18, a tenure that coincided with a pair of MLS Cup appearances in 2016 and 2017.
The Crew opens the season March 2 against 2018 Supporters’ Shield winners New York Red Bulls.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this story.