Slumping Timbers fire Spencer (updated)

John Spencer (Getty Images)

MLS has claimed its third head-coaching casualty of the year, and it is the Portland Timbers' John Spencer.

Spencer has been shown the exit door in Portland after a disappointing first half of the 2012 season that has the 5-8-4 Timbers in second-to-last place in the Western Conferece. A press conference is scheduled for Monday afternoon and Timbers owner/president Merritt Paulson is expected to make an official announcement.

(UPDATE- Paulson named general manager Gavin Wilkinson interim head coach while the Timbers conduct a search for a long-term replacement. The 38-year-old Wilkinson has been with the organization since its inaugural United Soccer Leagues season in 2001. Wilkinson has served as a head coach for the Timbers previously, compiling a 50-29-39 record from 2007-2010.)

The Timbers were 16-22-13 under Spencer, their first coach since joining MLS in 2011, but they have been one of the most dismal teams in the league this year with 16 goals scored and 24 surrendered in 17 matches. Portland is coming off a 3-0 defeat to Real Salt Lake in which all three goals were netted in the second half.

Spencer joins former Toronto FC head coach Aron Winter and Philadelphia Union boss Peter Nowak as the first three managers to be fired this season.

What do you make of this development? Who would you like to see permanently replace Spencer? How do you look back on his time with the club? Think Wilkinson will have some success while the club searches for a long-term replacement?

Share your thoughts below.

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99 Responses to Slumping Timbers fire Spencer (updated)

  1. BSU SC says:

    In other news, the sky is blue.

    No surprises here. Saw this one coming a long time ago.

  2. jonk says:

    I’m torn about this. On the one hand, his tactics and substitutions were sometimes baffling and seemed to indicate a serious coaching deficiency. On the other hand, the consistency of the players on the field has been just as infuriating. Oh well, hopefully Merritt has someone in mind because I don’t want to see Gavin Wilkinson at the helm for more than a couple games.

  3. BSU SC says:

    …and I would like to see a team give Richie Williams a chance. He deserves the opportunity.

  4. Mike says:

    will miss his tude.

  5. Luis F says:

    As a Sounder fan, I’m sad to see the underperforming little guy go. As a fan of MLS, he was around longer than he should have been. He was an awful coach. I’m sure he’d make a great assistant, the guy who runs practices. But as a head coach, he’s all wrong.

  6. stanley says:

    Amos Magee. Boom! Done!

  7. BJ Clark says:

    I don’t care who the Timbers hire, so long as it someone that wants to play attractive football. It was the little things about Spencer’s coaching that drove me CRAZY. Like how every distribution from Perkins has to be in the air, to the striker. Goal kicks, drop kicks, to Cooper/Boyd. We lost possession on those, literally, > 75% of the time.

    Secondly, I’d love to see someone that actually tries to play the game with who we have. We’ve seen nothing but a steady stream of people come in here (7 of the 14 guys that played vs RSL were new this season alone), but our tactics never change. I can only think of a couple times our formation ever changed. Same system, different faces, not a way to build a club.

  8. otergod says:

    Currently running the U17s.

  9. |RBNY| Maestro10 says:

    I was upset when RBNY wouldn’t give him a chance but at least he was a role right now with U-17′s. He’ll be coaching in the MLS eventually.

  10. Chodilicus says:

    Not a Timbers fan, but for me this is just too quick. This is an expansion side that is a year and a half into their existence. He almost made the playoffs last year. Of course they are not a good team, but they should struggle. That is the nature of being an expansion side.

    I hate to break this to you Timbers fans, but you are not under performing. Your team is just not that good. It takes time to develop a really good side and it is just pure arrogance to believe that you can come into this league right away and just start winning titles. There are some really good established teams in this league.

    Now, I am not saying that Spencer was a good coach. Maybe his style is not the direction that the ownership wanted to go. But, the team was not performing so poorly as to warrant a mid-year firing. The Timbers talent simply does not matchup with the playoff teams in this league and that was evidenced on Saturday against RSL.

    So for me as an objective observer, expectations are just unrealistically too high in Portland. The next coach will not immediately do better. The organization needs to pick a coach and system and then give him time to develop the players necessary to win. It took RSL years to build under Kreis. Now they are probably the most consistent and stable on-field franchise in MLS, but that never would have happened if Checketts pulled the plug in his second year.

  11. Kevin says:

    This coach never saw a long ball he didn’t like. Glad to have him out of MLS and hopefully out of American Soccer altogether. He should be sent to some British swampy outpost where they share his obsession with 19th century tactics.

  12. Spencer says:

    good to see a team not stand by mediocrity and underachieving. They know what the fans want and are trying to deliver a team they can be proud of.

  13. Vic says:

    Alot of turnover amongst MLS coaches. If you want a nice cushy job with good pay, job security and you don’t have to move then become a college coach.

  14. Knuckles says:

    It took RSL years to develop under Kreis? You might want to check that theory. He took over the team as coach after the start of the 2007 season. He went from 27 points his first season to 40 points the next. Sometimes the players are just a crappy fit, and trading out an entire roster wholesale during the season really can’t be done all that effectively.

    The team has been performing poorly enough since day 1 to deserve a firing. He was a terrible hire, and that can be put squarely on the shoulders of Gavin Wilkinson who is as bad, if not worse, as a coach than Spencer.

    The expectations aren’t too high in Portland, I don’t think. It is not unrealistic to think your team can at least make the playoffs in their expansion year. The Sounders did that fairly comfortably. What is unrealistic is to think that you can do it if Gavin Wilkinson is the guy filling the roster, and John Spencer is the one selecting it.

  15. Kishan Jeter says:

    Spencer was a great assistant coach to Kinnear for the Houston Dynamo. It’s really unfortunate that he was released from the Timbers. This is probably the first time I’ve seen 3 MLS coaches fired from their respective clubs. People are being more demanding of their teams and that’s great but I feel some are a little out of touch with reality. The Timbers are still roughly a new club and they’re only halfway through the current MLS season. They could’ve waited til this season was done before making a decision, that way he could be analyzed over his first 2 years and determine if the organization is moving in the direction that the front office desires.

  16. Old School says:

    Fabio Capello to Portland!

  17. Gnarls says:

    I’ll miss Spencer’s post-game reactions and commentary. I really think he should get a color commentary gig. His fiery personality is his best characteristic; not his coaching abilities.

  18. Hincha Tim says:

    Kevin,
    I would have to agree with you, especially after watching them play RSL. This team is built in the image that Spencer has of soccer: big, fast, and/or hardnosed players with little technical skills, kick it long, cross it in, in the British mold. There were so few players on that team that showed any skill on the ball (and they were awful defensively especially in 1 v 1′s). It was all about speed and long balls. They were the most unskillful team RSL has played all year(and that includes the early version of Chivas USA who were bad, but at least defended like Banshees). Come on Mr. Deep Pockets, bring in a weird wacky liberal soccer genius that would fit Portland to a t (and bring exciting attacking soccer and develop youth system like it should be): Marcelo Bielsa, who supposedly has resigned from Athletic Bilbao.

  19. Adam says:

    I wondered how long this would take. I liked his press conferences, but his tactics clearly weren’t working. Getting it wide and hitting crappy crosses for Boyd to chase does not work.

  20. MMV says:

    Caleb Porter!!!! The season’s all but lost for Portland so why not make a run at Porter. Despite the short comings of the U-23′s he’s still a top up-and-coming coach. But would Poulson be willing to have over the reigns to yet another unprove head coach?

  21. tim says:

    Schellas Hyndman should be next on the coaches chopping block. FCD has been terrible for over a year and he leans on another excuse for each loss.

    Poor player rotation killed the team last year. Two years now of not having a person to play striker has killed us. Sure we got one this year but he got broken on his national team duty. Injuries have plagued the team this year but he still fails to make substitutions at opportune time. Like this past Saturday, the team goes up a man and no offensive sub is made, he leaves the the game on a draw and a sub left in his pocket… His decisions to lean on Daniel Hernandez as the set piece guy has been a complete failure. He’s not the guy for this team. He got lucky in 2010 by having some stars align at the right time. He’s proven he cannot manage an MLS team to success. He needs to be replaced.

  22. Timbersintrouble says:

    You’re kidding right?!?! Magee was only on the coaching staff as Gavin’s mole so he could report back about what was going on with the team. Gavin and Amos are sipping the bubbly right now celebrating getting John the sack. John was not a good coach but as the saying goes the Timbers have jumped from the frying pan into the fire.

  23. bryan says:

    good personality, decent coach. seems a little harsh given it’s a second year team and that they made the playoffs, but this season they’re in second to last place. hard to argue. plus his style of play was not that great.

  24. Gnarls says:

    Didn’t make the playoffs, but were close. Within a point or two.

  25. Gon Darber says:

    Time to call Sven…

  26. go usa says:

    It may not be “unrealistic”, to expect playoffs in the first year, but it’s greedy and frankly insulting to the league. News flash… MLS is tougher than it looks.

    Does a promoted team in England get their panties in a wad if they don’t finish mid-table? They’re usually thankful to avoid immediate relegation.

    New owners like Paulson and Saputo are spoiled brats the way they “demand” immediate success.

    Yes, MLS is set up on parity so expansion teams are competitive, but that same parity exposes inexperience and ineffectiveness of front offices over the course of a season.

  27. Dimidri says:

    “Yes, MLS is set up on parity so expansion teams are competitive, but that same parity exposes inexperience and ineffectiveness of front offices over the course of a season.”
    +1,000
    Parity as a concept is never meant as a free lunch or to force mediocrity amongst teams in the league, it is meant to guarantee that smart management, not oil money, can lead to success. Every team can THEORETICALLY win and improve their team without major changes in their economic status, but that does not mean every team will. Good and bad teams will emerge, but how we get to that point is determined in a much more equitable, just way. If you think parity doesn’t allow for good and bad teams, I suggest you watch some of the tape from the Heat-Bobcats games last year.
    Also agree that fans in places like Portland need to calm down. Just because you care more collectively about your team than say Columbus does in no means you ‘deserve’ better results or the like, or that you necessarily will perform better. As a neutral, seems like Portland is just mad that Seattle has had a ton of success in their first couple years, attracts almost double the fans Portland does, etc. and wants to stop that. Kudos.

  28. chris says:

    UK or European coaches who don’t understand the intricacies of MLS don’t survive. Buy American!

  29. anon says:

    Two words: Steve Nicol. He’s the best coach available right now. Curt Onalfo and Denis Hamlett are also solid options, if you want someone with MLS experience.

  30. RLW2020 says:

    +1 hope he returns as an assistant or moves down to coach a lower div/ncaa team. good guy just not pro head coach quality.

  31. RLW2020 says:

    much better idea!

  32. soccerroo says:

    First I doubt Clark Hunt will ever fire Hyndman. How ever if he does it will only be after everyone gets healthy and the team is still losing.

    My hope for FCD is to get another striker who can play up top when Blas Perez is injured or on national team duty.

  33. tyler says:

    Portland is the new TFC

  34. don says:

    tyler is the new simon borg – thanks for the unfounded bold prediction.

  35. Confounded says:

    He understands MLS just fine. Like mentioned above he was assistant under Kinnear and played in the league as a player. I dont know what you base your comment on.

    He seems like a great guy, I hope he sticks around MLS.

  36. Gnarls says:

    +1 for Steve Nicol.

  37. Seriously says:

    Too early to call, but I would say it was too early for a second year side to cut their coach as well. This is not Europe, there is no relegation, it makes no sense to change so quickly. You have to give things time or else you do end up in a TFC situation with too much turnover and you have to start all over again.

  38. Stanley says:

    Amos is/was a decent coach and (I’m banking on the belief that Wilkinson has made most of the personnel decisions) knows what Gavin has been trying to build for the team. Not saying Mr. Wilkinson has made the right moves but if Merrit Paulson has any faith left in Mr. Wilkinson the right move would be to promote Amos to head coach.

    If Paulson has no faith in Gavin he makes him head coach for the rest of the season and begins to look for a new GM.

  39. Yep says:

    It’s not unrealistic to expect at least one road win by now and a victory over Cal FC. Have you been watching the Timbers? It’s not about arrogance or expecting to win titles in their first or second year. Their form is horrid and they’re a dispirited bunch, young players not progressing and some regressing.

  40. Yep says:

    You really need to stop commenting now.

  41. zaggy says:

    For those that thought it was too early:

    2-15-8. Spencer’s away record.
    # of wins in 2012 on the road: 0

    Bottom-line the team wasn’t getting it done. That’s fine, but then you need to DO something different next time, to try and work and get better. Timber’s often trotted the same under-performing players out, apparently hoping “this time” they’d play well. Jack Jewsbury and Lovel Palmer have been a rock around Spencer’s neck all season and his continued insistence to play them even when it was obvious to the most casual fan that they were weak links, spoke to an arrogance and insistence of favoritism that was his downfall in the end.

    This team was a borderline playoff team no doubt, but its the way they played, the way they were so often routinely embarrassed on the road, and the lack of any kind of development out of any of the players with no answers of any kind from Spencer that are the real reasons for his dismissal. If the team was stumbling along but playing in a system that made sense and catered to the players, with the best, not the favorites, being played, Spencer would still have the support of the majority of the fanbase, even if the record wasn’t there. Too often the team just frankly gave up and after a year and a half of watching that, with the same players featuring day in and day out, it became obvious he was losing this owner and fanbase.

  42. Yep says:

    Make sense only if you’re viewing it from a distance. Wilkinson isn’t a solution, but Spencer’s system was broken.

  43. Yep says:

    Or you keep dead weight around despite all evidence to the contrary and you gut what’s good about the roster in a desperate attempt to save a job and hit a home run, but then end up like TFC anyway.

    I don’t think Timbers are abandoning their overall strategy and focus on youth, it’s just that Spencer is no longer running the squad.

  44. Yep says:

    Read this outsiders. Nice to see you on here Zaggy.

  45. Yep says:

    “So few players that showed any skill.”

    We do have some skilled players, but Spencer reduced their playing time or played them out-of-position a lot. As for the RSL game, thank Spencer’s bizzaro lineup for that. Chara(nice player) and Palmer/Jewsbury MF? 3 CDMs on at the same time, no attacking/creative player in MF? It was a predictable disaster and ugly to watch. The result wasn’t terribly surprising to educated observers here in Portland.

  46. NaranjaFanatic says:

    I keep imagining his reaction when Paulson finally got enough nuts to tell him he was fired. How awesome would it be to have an audio of that? I would love to be the guy who gets to go to the bar with Spencer and listen to him rant about Merritt Paulson and the crappy service he got from his wings.

  47. Air Jordanz says:

    He makes good points. Maybe you Portland fans should stop being living cliches.

  48. Yep says:

    The service from the wings was usually crap, but that’s just it, his tactics were obsolete by 20 years. Spencer’s attack was too predictable and easy to defend. If we had the great wingers and fullbacks, maybe it could’ve worked out in this league, but this is MLS and those players aren’t readily available in abundance.

    Spencer was a one trick pony. He had Plan A: Get the ball out wide and cross and that’s it. He was all gut, little or no thought. His answer to everything was, “Man up” or “Try harder”, etc. He was routinely out-coached by better students of the game who would make in-game adjustments while he was going spastic on his own players.

  49. Yep says:

    EADIAF and GDP

    Figure out what the second one means and you win a gold star.

  50. Rico says:

    So he goes to an expansion team and has a very good first year and a not good first half of the second year. I just don’t know if you attract a good replacement when you show no patience like that. He is a high strung, highly demanding guy. I just have a suspicion that a lot of those guys (Boyd? Jack?) just didn’t want to work that hard. Of course nothing to base that on except the product on the field. Quite honestly the effort and commitment we saw when they played Seattle the other week is not there every game (obviously). Personally, I would go to battle for that guy. I think Portland may be heading down the TFC road.

  51. Dimidri says:

    The comment was in reference to the general attitude of new owners like Saputo, Paulson, etc and the expectation that ‘success should be immediate, we deserve it, look at our Tifo’s!’ Your team is bad. That happens. Your team lost to a lower-tier side in a cup match, that happens. And before you decry Spencer’s style, look how successful his antithesis in Toronto was…

    Actually read what I said and you’ll see I am not critiquing being upset about your team performing poorly but rather the way people like you carry yourselves.

  52. NaranjaFanatic says:

    I just have to say that your second paragraph was just about as entertaining to read as watching Spencer on the sideline. I see your point. He’s a poor man’s Kinnear. Perhaps a very poor man’s Kinnear.

  53. go usa says:

    I would say that part of problem is too much pressure from ownership and fans for immediate success. It causes teams to scramble around for “instant just add water” solutions rather than patient and reasoned franchise development.

    TFC is the poster child for roster turnover, firing coaches, and fairy-dust foreign imports.

    Suffer the down times, so when victory comes, you’ll know it means something.

    Cal FC had a good team. I suggest you hire Wynalda.

  54. Paddy Megroyn says:

    It’s not surprising that Portland has such an awful away record. The field at Jeld-Wen is so narrow that it helped hide some deficiencies in their style of play which would ultimately be exposed in road matches.

    As a neutral, Portland is a terrible team to watch and if their supporters didn’t provide such a great atmosphere, I would never want to see them play.

    I don’t think that Spencer’s tactics were any good, but from top to bottom, it’s not a talented roster by any stretch of the imagination.

    One question though…does this mean the end to those great Alaska Airlines commericals?

  55. fischy says:

    Why not? Because it will be really embarrassing when word gets out that Porter said “No thanks.” If he really preferred to be in the pros right now, he would be coaching with DCU. Heck, maybe he likes Ohio. Check back when the Crew have an opening.

  56. fischy says:

    Nonsense. He was masterful when the team made the Cup Final. Now, he’s a bad coach? Can’t manage a team to success?

  57. fischy says:

    This is sarcasm, right?

  58. Kojo says:

    Top 3 coaching candidates
    1. Marcelo Bielsa (dream on, but one can dream)
    2. Richie Williams (coaching MLS is a bigger career move than coaching U-17′s who don’t always pan out)
    3. Steve Nicol (is third since his style of soccer is not that entertaining but still a good coach)

  59. kobao says:

    good riddance to this looney tune. he made himself a joke almost from the very beginning with his manufactured controversy and ridiculous comments.

  60. The Imperative Voice says:

    I don’t think it matters if you are Kinnear’s protege or seemed of promise if you lose to Cal FC (amateur) in the USOC and haven’t won a road game since October 2011, while your team which once was a borderline playoff entrant starts circling the drain. Just missing the playoffs probably doesn’t buy you much more time than squeaking your post-expansion Union into the postseason, and then similarly cratering.

    I also don’t think it helps to seem obsessed with trading away Cooper like he’s leprous (trying Houston before Paulson overrode, then completing the NY trade) and then Cooper is second in the league in goals with 11 halfway into the next season. But then his mentor Kinnear traded away DeRo, Kamara, Oduro, Wondo. I think you get away with that more when you have cups than not even playoffs, and even Kinnear’s style grates here the longer he goes from 2007.

  61. Brian says:

    This is a great first move, Spencer was lacking in his tactics and refused to make appropriate adjustments to the lineup. The next move needs to be removing GM Gavin Wilkinson. Once those two are gone I want to see Eric Wynalda given a chance to manage the team. I believe Wynalda can build the program into a contender and do good things for the youth development in Portland.

    This move has been brewing since the loss to Cal FC. That result was unacceptable and showed exactly why Wynalda should be in and Spencer was rightfully fired. Wynalda knew what Spencer was going to do and never allowed him his game plan. Wynalda wanted to play possession but once he realized he couldn’t (about 15 minutes in) he solidified his defense and played for the counter. Wynalda changed formation 6 times during the game while Portland played exactly the same throughout. I would love to see what Wynalda can do with true professionals instead of a team of scraps.

  62. This Guy says:

    Every comment you make shows how clueless you are.

  63. mephime says:

    In a league where more than 50% of the teams make the playoffs, it isn’t unrealistic to expect it.

  64. bigprof says:

    i wonder who had to fight him? you cant fire a scot without having to go mano a mano. i get the feeling timber joey had to scare him off at some point

  65. truthiness says:

    Look at San Jose – Fans were calling for Yallop and Doyle to go for a long time. Last year was especially dark. Now they lead the league – go figure, something might be said for stability and a patient build up.

  66. Adi from Oregon says:

    I was an original Timbers fan and agree that Wynalda could be a good coach because he always played with great ball skills and good strategy. This is the type of soccer that Portland needs. Use Spain as an example – no real striker, a Swiss-clock midfield and defenders who are fast and put out 150% effort. So, get rid of the tall & stiff striker, get the talented midfielders to play together better, and greatly improve the talent and effort of the defenders. Good luck in getting a GREAT coach!!!

  67. Wooshaw says:

    Don’t worry Yep, nobody expects the Timbers to win anything

  68. curmudgeon says:

    Clueless? What happened the last time Curt Onalfo was given a head coaching job?

  69. stewart klensman says:

    ralston- i think he should get the call up.

  70. Ivar Clam Man says:

    Timbers hav been blowing it for years..

  71. JABA says:

    timbers are the same old Portland amigo.. Suckin since the 70′s

  72. The Imperative Voice says:

    I think it’s a good idea to fire the coach now because the results stink and this gives you a few months to sort out whether it’s the coach, players, or both. If they suddenly turn around like TFC or Philly then you pulled the right switch, you might benefit from a good coach but not need too much turnover. If the team just collapses then you need to seriously work over the roster.

    You don’t want to wait until the season’s over because they’re already several games adrift of the playoffs, if they have any aspirations the turnaround needs to come now, and there was no reason to believe it was coming through Spencer, when the team only got worse this year. Also, if you’re not going to make the playoffs, you’re better off making this year the proving ground rather than beating your head against the wall through October and then having to essentially experiment next April and May. I’d rather waste games in a lost season than make next year’s coach have to burn real games assessing the roster.

    There are really just a few good coaches I’d bother with, otherwise it’s a diceroll. Nicol and Colin Clarke, maybe Bob Bradley if Egypt tosses him overboard.

    Everyone else, it’s like you’re a coaching proving ground right along with a player experiment, like say TFC was: Porter’s U23 experience should be a deterrent, Wynalda is just now getting his first pro games, Ralston is just a Kinnear assistant with no CV, Williams had a mediocre NY interim record and hasn’t done anything special at US U17. I mean, you just gave Spencer his first shot, that worked great, didn’t it? I’d think they go the other way.

  73. stewart klensman says:

    I see what you are saying but look at Olsen and Heaps, they are getting it done. I would not put Spencer and Ralston in the same pool even though they both were Kinnear’s asst. Ralston had a unbelievable vision as a player that I think could carry over as a coach. I think Nicol could be a choice although I think that I would be a little afraid of his record towards the end at NE.

  74. Hincha Tim says:

    I am starting a one fan lobbying campaign: MARCELO BIELSA. He could revolutionize the MLS and youth development in the U.S. Visionary, incredibly hard working, could quickly understand, adapt to American indiocyncracities. He not only would get Portland competitive he would totally revamp their youth development system.
    He made 3 million/year at Athletic Bilbao. Fire that worthless striker they are paying 1.5 mil/year for and that’s half his salary. His worth long term to the Timbers and American soccer would far outweigh his salary, if Portland’s owners had the vision and balls to go after him. And I think he might seriously consider it. He’s always enjoyed new adventures/challenges and learned to work within financial/operational constraints (Velez and Newell’s were not among the big Argentine clubs when he led them to success, same with Athletic Bilbao and Atlas in Mexico and even Chile).

  75. HDfan says:

    Kinnear is one of the winningest coaches in MLS. This notion that he prefers the long ball is a myth. You mad we got the best set piece taker in the league? Yeah you mad

  76. chris says:

    It looks like he’s staying with Bilbao this year but that would be amazing if he came to MLS or even the national team someday. I know he had talks with Sunil in the past so he at least was open to it at some point.

  77. chris says:

    If they’re looking to move away from Spencer’s ugly retro british tactics then Steve Nicol is absolutely not the guy you want to go after

  78. i was saying boo-urns. says:

    Remember the Cal FC match? I blame this on the Jon Spencer Boos Explosion.

  79. If all those candidates are indeed real options, it would seem Portland is spoiled for choice. I’d be pretty excited for any one of those guys, if the Sounders didn’t already have Big Sig.

    Personally, I’m rooting for Nicol. His time at New England didn’t end well, but I’ve always liked him, and I’d like to see what he could do with a team whose ownership at least seems to care. Also, I’d like him to get another shot at an MLS title, after coming so close so many times with the Revs. It would kind of kill me if that happened in Portland, but given the state of the team right now, if he did manage it it would be thoroughly deserved.

  80. b says:

    I go to “HDfan” formy unbiased analysis of the Houston Dynamo coach.

    Hopefully one day all these 1970s kick and rush coaches will be gone, regardless of their past successes (yes even Arena).

  81. b says:

    “even though they both were Kinnear’s asst.”??

    That they are/were Kinnear coaches should be seen as a huge strike against them!

  82. b says:

    Dear Merritt,
    Congrats on completing step 1 of 6.

    1. Fire Spencer – done
    2. Fire Wilkinson
    3. Get rid of all these talentless Scottish Premiere League style players
    4. Replace the turf with grass
    5. Make the pitch as wide as that Jeld Wen band box will allow
    6. Hire a young American coach along the lines of Kreis and Olsen

  83. Knuckles says:

    It’s “insulting”? Where 10 teams out of 19 make the playoffs? It’s not insulting at all. What it really proves is that poor management guarantees poor results, tenure in the league notwithstanding. By poor management, I don’t just mean John Spencer, I also mean the roster that Wilkinson gave him was a discordant, disorganized mess.

  84. Micronesian Justin says:

    Jeff Cameron to Stoke City per Sky Sports

  85. Rico says:

    You make no sense. So Spencer doesn’t work out in Portland and you want to write off all assistant coaches of Dominic Kinnear? He has been to three out of the last six MLS Cups and won two. His Houston team is the winningest MLS side since going to Houston in 06. One thing his assistant coaches know how to do is win. While Ralston may not be ready yet, I would think he is on most people’s radar. And given the early returns of Jay Heaps, perhaps experience is not as critical as we thought.

  86. NaranjaFanatic says:

    He and the Dynamo have given the green light to the transfer but in the crazy MLS system, the other owners have to vote in favor of the deal. Hopefully that is just a formality.

  87. Rowsdower says:

    At least Kinnear is mixing it up. Honestly how surprised where you when the 433 was rolled out a few weeks ago. I was. Please don’t add say Oduro or even Kamara in the same sentance with DeRo and Wondo.

  88. NaranjaFanatic says:

    I love these fans who say that Nicol, Kinnear, and even Arena don’t play a style that is entertaining. You guys can have your entertainment. For me, winning is always entertaining. Portland would be lucky to have Nicol. You are talking about three of the most successful coaches this league has ever had.

  89. tim says:

    Masterful? More like the stars aligned. Since then the team has been torn asunder by expansion drafts and some very questionable moves.

  90. BSU SC says:

    +1

    That’s a name I had not considered. I’m hopeful that he will take the reigns of the USMNT after Klinsmann. Although it’s hard to imagine him coming to coach in MLS, it would be good to see him come in and get to know the lay of the land in American soccer before stepping into the national team picture.

  91. b says:

    Of course it is, what possible reason would they have to vote against it? Maybe if they thought the offer was insultingly low I guess…

  92. RAMONE says:

    Interesting how many “objective observers” above can also somehow objectively say this was a bad move. Yes, I get it that you want us to “pay dues” and you’d rather not see another team you see as a newcomer crash the party.

    This decision is only being celebrated in small pockets. Most of us have been watching professional soccer long enough to know that Spencer’s tactics were not going to work, but still love the man so it is a gut wrenching decision. He doesn’t have the players to run a throwback 1980s Brittish style, not sure any MLS team could afford what it takes to successfully do that. But John Spencer wasn’t going to change his strategy to fit the players he has and when you are 1.5 years after expansion and your GM seemingly can’t get the players he needs (partially because most retired 20 years ago and the rest start in the EPL and you can’t afford them) sticking with that is just going to be banging your head into the wall indefinitely.

  93. RAMONE says:

    Also want to say our interim coach is going to be worse. We all saw his handiwork for 3 seasons before MLS. Our best hope is that we find a Martin Renne like fit for 2013.

  94. RAMONE says:

    #4 not until Portland State football has a new stadium (i.e. never) and the city, who owns jeld wen, puts 10s of millions into new drainage and grow-lites (also never). Back in the day this stadium was a mud bog with natural grass (the roof means few hours of daylight, it is dug in 50 feet below ground level / below water table … And it rains quite a bit in Portland). All problems money can fix, but it would take a whole lot of it in a community who screamed bloody murder and still does that the city borrowed $30 million from the spectator facilities fund to do the 2011 upgrades.

    #5 already done.

  95. bryan says:

    oh yeah, my bad. lol

  96. Chodilicus says:

    Alright, let’s check the theory. Kreis went 27 points and then 40 as you say. Yet, management stuck by him, even with some terrible soccer at times as he build the team that could play his style.

    Portland went 42 points in Spencer’s inaugural season and are on pace for about 40 this year. I am not going to argue if he is a good coach or if his tactics are right. My point is, no coach could implement a system and win at a high level in MLS without the time required to establish a brand. The quick trigger will just ensure continued rebuilding.

    So my point is, those unrealistic expectations are not a slap in the face to anyone, they are just a hindrance to your team getting where it needs to be. Even the teams that just try and go buy all the talent they can, do not work in MLS.

  97. Chodilicus says:

    Yes, they struggle to play well. Yes, they lose on the road. Yes, they have players that are just not good enough to make the playoffs. THEY ARE AN EXPANSION SIDE!

    We all get that his record doesn’t look good. But almost no expansion team will have a great record now that the league is more established.

    The point is, you are now 18 months down the road with Spencer’s style and finally getting his type of players in the system. Now if you start over, it will get worse again. You can’t try and play an RSL type of “beautiful” game with the players that Portland has brought in. So now all your acquisitions, like Boyd, are useless if you decide to change styles. That guy could not play in an RSL type of system.

    You have to get the players for your system, whatever it is. The problem with teams like TFC is that they have no idea what their system is because it changes every year when they fire their coach and GM.

    Again, Spencer may be the a poor coach. But if he was the right coach 18 months ago and took that talent to the brink of the playoffs in year 1, did he really forget how to coach?

  98. Chodilicus says:

    Don’t get confused. At least this objective observer, is not saying that it was a bad move because I didn’t want “to see you crash the party”. I just think it is too quick of a trigger and poor timing. Spencer got the Timbers 42 points in their first season!

    You may not like his style, but not all great teams play the “beautiful game” style. Man U plays ugly soccer but gets it done. Arsenal plays beautiful soccer and hasn’t gotten in done. Of course everyone wants to play like Spain, but it is not as simple as saying “let’s play like Spain”. That style only works when you have some of the best and most creative midfielders in the world.

    It takes more talent to play the beautiful game and a passing style of soccer like Spain, Arsenal or (admittedly the poor version) RSL. The direct/british style does not take nearly as much on-ball skill or talent, just speed and athletes.

    But regardless of style or tactics, it takes time to develop a team and define a direction. TFC has never had the patience to define a style. Houston, in my opinion, plays the worst style of all time but it is very defined and it works for them. They win even with inferior talent. The hook was just too quick and poor timing for Spencer. Maybe they do want a style change and new direction in Portland. But, whatever that direction is, they need to give it at least 3 years to develop and get the right players.

  99. Hincha Tim says:

    Actually, it wouldn’t be uncharacteristic of him to take such a job. Bielsa has always taken jobs that pose a challenge and aren’t with the big name clubs. He coached at Velez and Newell’s two clubs that at the time were not the “big 5″ of Argentine soccer. He then went to Mexico and coached at Atlas, not one of the top 2-3 clubs there, he took the Chile NT job, when Chile wasn’t one of the traditional powers, and he took Athletic Bilbao, not one of the super clubs in Spain. He likes working for the underdog and tilling new ground. He made $3 million/year at Bilboa which is not an unreachable amount (considering the Timbers are paying an unproductive striker 1.5 mil). I think the U.S. would really intrigue Marcelo, especially going to a situation that is relatively a clean slate without a lot of historical baggage that he has to overcome before he can stamp his influence (in comparison to the other club jobs he has had).