PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Portland Timbers were the surprise of Major League Soccer last season under first-year coach Caleb Porter. Playing what fans dubbed “Porterball,” the team finished atop the Western Conference standings and advanced to the conference finals.
When the season finally closed on the Timbers, Porter was already plotting his club’s improvement.
The new season opens for Portland on Saturday night against the Philadelphia Union at the newly renamed Providence Park.
Porter, with his possession-oriented attack, was named the MLS Coach of the Year last season after guiding the Timbers to a 14-5-15 record and their first playoff berth since joining the league in 2011. The finish was a stunning 23-point turnaround from the previous season.
The run was highlighted by a 15-game unbeaten streak, as well as a league-best undefeated stretch of nine straight on the road.
Portland’s five losses tied the league mark for fewest in a 34-match season. The Timbers lost just one regular-season game at their downtown Portland stadium.