End of the Road for Spencer: A Turning Point in Timbers Season?

John Spencer who was the first Major League Soccer coach of the Portland Timbers has been sacked by the Owner Merritt Paulson late yesterday.

In his press conference, Merritt was very emotional throughout because of his good friendship with Sepncer, said that the reasons for the sacking was because of “philosophical differences” between the two men. He stressed that the record of the team was not to blame for this decision. Merritt went on to say that Gavin Wilkinson, current General Manager and former Timbers player and coach, will be the interim coach of the Timbers for the remainder of the season.

They went on to talk about how starting today they are formally searching for a permanent head coach and have 10 names that they are zoning in on. They will announce the decision of a new coach by the end of the 2012 calendar year. During the interview Merritt did say that this decision to sack John Spencer was not “waiving the white flag on the 2012 season” and that they will be able to turn it around and make the playoffs by season’s end. He said in the conference that his goals was to make the playoffs this year and next year be in contention of the MLS Cup. The timing of Spencer being sacked happened to be Sunday night and was finalized at 8am today.

Gavin Wilkinson did offer up a solution to what he would like to do at this time. He went to say that there are minor tweaks to the system nothing big in terms of what is needed to be done with the team. Hopefully his appointment can change the mentality of the team and get the quality players out onto the pitch that deserve to be there and put everything on the line. So Jack Jewsbury, Lovel Palmer, Kris Boyd, let it be a warning that you are probably not guaranteed a starting position if you continue to be the way you are right now. I am hoping this can be a wake up call by the Timbers players and start playing the way they did against Seattle and San Jose and not continue what they did against Colorado and Real Salt Lake.

Here are the official statement given by Merritt Paulson and the statement from the former Portland Timbers head coach John Spencer

Personally I feel this needed to be done seeing that this was very inconsistent in terms of play. Spencer also tends to keep the same people even if they have not been performing up to par (while there were other qualified people that deserved to play). Also the horrible record on the road and how we have a worse record than Toronto in the road record speaks volumes. However, from what I hear from people in the Timbers Army is that they are skeptical of Wilkinson because of what he did to the organization and the kinds of players he brought in. For me I am going to keep an open mind about Wilkinson and it definitely puts a lot of spotlight on him knowing that he is going to manage a team that he helped established. Hopefully he will open his eyes and see that the choices that he made about what players to get and sign were not the best decisions and he will learn that first hand. This is a major story today in the MLS Timbers history with this sacking and was definately not an easy decision on anybody’s part.

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