PORTLAND, Ore. – This time, close was good enough.
In his first season with the team, Caleb Porter brought the Portland Timbers to the brink of the MLS Cup. Though he didn't get a title, he did get the honor of being named MLS Coach of the Year on Monday.
The award was voted on by MLS players, MLS club management and the media based on regular-season performance.
Porter, 38, led the Timbers to first place in the Western Conference regular-season standings and the third-best record in the league. Portland had a 14-5-15 record, and its 57 points were two shy of the Supporters' Shield winners, the New York Red Bulls.
Porter and his staff created one of the most successful turnaround seasons in league history. The Timbers finished with 23 more points than in 2012 and had a 43-goal improvement in goal differential in 2013. The team also tied for the fewest losses in the MLS with five.
Portland set single-season records for points, wins, goals, goal differential, shutouts and fewest goals allowed.
The club's 57 points are the most earned by a first-year head coach in MLS, and his winning percentage (.632) ranks among the highest in league history for first-year MLS head coaches. The Timbers also had a 15-game unbeaten streak during the regular season, one of the longest in league history.
They put together a league-best nine-match unbeaten run on the road.
In their third season in MLS, the team not only made the MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time, but also reached the Western Conference Finals, eventually losing 5-2 to Real Salt Lake on aggregate. The Timbers became the fifth club in league history to reach the conference championship in their playoff debut.
Portland also made their deepest run in club history in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The Timbers reached the semifinals of the tournament, before losing at Real Salt Lake 4-2.
Porter is the eighth head coach in league history to win Coach of the Year after his first full season in the league.
The two other finalists for Coach of the Year were Jason Kreis of Real Salt Lake and Mike Petke of New York Red Bulls.