Columbus Crew SC made it official Friday, naming former Toronto FC GM Tim Bezbatchenko as its new president.
The MLS team also announced Caleb Porter, who won the MLS Cup in 2015 with the Portland Timbers, is its new head coach.
Bezbatchenko’s return to his roots — he comes from Westerville, just outside Columbus — was expected. Toronto FC named Ali Curtis as its new general manager on Thursday.
“My family and I are thrilled for the opportunity to return to Central Ohio and to be a part of this organization and its bright future on the business and soccer side alike,” Bezbatchenko said in a statement.
The 37-year-old Bezbatchenko joined Toronto in September 2013, helping build the club into MLS champions. He was GM and vice-president of soccer operations when he left.
In Columbus, he will be in charge of all aspects of the club.
The 43-year-old Porter becomes the eighth head coach in Columbus history. He coached the Portland Timbers from 2013 to 2017, winning MLS coach of the year honours in 2013.
Gregg Berhalter had been Columbus’ head coach and sporting director since November 2013. He left in late November to coach the U.S. men’s national team.
“We are thrilled to have secured Tim Bezbatchenko and Caleb Porter to lead Columbus Crew SC,” the new Columbus investor-operator group said in a statement. “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.”
Porter has had success in Ohio before. He was head coach of the University of Akron from 2006 to 2012, compiling a record of 123-18-17 and winning the national championship in 2009.
“I am honoured to join Columbus Crew SC, a club with a rich history in Major League Soccer and a city with great appreciation for its beloved club dating back to 1996,” Porter said in a statement.
The two are joining a Columbus franchise under new ownership.
MLS announced last month that it had an agreement in principle with the Haslam and Edwards families to become MLS owners and take over operating rights starting this month.
The Haslam family owns the NFL’s Cleveland Browns.
The announcement follows news of a public-private partnership to construct a new downtown soccer stadium for the Columbus team. Precourt Sports Ventures, which had acquired the Crew operating rights in July 2013, is looking to field a new team in Austin, Texas.