Once a Cascadian – A sad day in the Rose City

Posted in Columnists, Portland


Published on July 10, 2012 with 10 Comments

A sad day in the Rose City – Once a Cascadian – Ian Joy

A sad day in the Rose City

Yesterday was a confusing day for me.

As a former Timbers captain and a lover of the Rose City in general, my heart goes out to all the Timbers Faithful on what I would like to call a very sad day for the sport in the Soccer City.

The news coming out of Portland on July 9th was sad news. John Spencer has been in the hot seat since day one of arriving into the Rose City.

I have to admit that I was very surprised to see Merritt Paulson making the decision to relieve John Spencer of his duties after such a short period of time.

The decision by Merritt shows me his inexperience of Major League Soccer and his understanding of how difficult it is to be a successful team in this league. The philosophy that the club has of building a team on youth and athleticism will never ever be a quick and easy road to success and for Merritt to believe that within 3 years they’d be competing for an MLS cup without having 4-5 experienced MLS veterans in your side again shows his inexperience as a soccer guy and in Major League soccer as an owner.

John Spencer was given 1.3 seasons to produce a winning team on the field and even though I didn’t agree with Spenny’s style of coaching, in my experience he had absolutely no chance of producing a winning team in such a short time period especially with the Timbers being an expansion team when he took over and the club being filled with so many young players.

His record in that short space of time wasn’t so bad.

Merritt Paulson refused to say that results were the reason as to why they were firing Spenny but went on to say that there was some fundamental, philosophical differences between John Spencer and I presume Gavin Wilkinson and himself.

Now I don’t know the reason why he was fired personally but I do have an idea as to why and it all comes down to exactly what he is denying, it all comes down to results.

Why kid around? Merritt is a results driven man. He is driven by the thought of success.

He will do anything in his power to make that happen and at the end of the day he didn’t have the confidence that Spenny was going to be able to bring that success.

So now the hot seat is waiting for Timbers GM Gavin Wilkinson, my former coach and someone who I thought I knew very well but found out in the end I knew nothing about. An extremely aggressive man who himself is very passionate about winning at all costs.

He will be chomping at the bit to get started on the training field and doing his utmost to turn the Timbers season around and that is a guarantee. He lives and breathes soccer and most importantly Portland Timbers.

The three philosophers. Merrit Paulson (r) gave so far unexplained fundamental ‘differences in philosophy’ as the reason for firing Spencer (m). But what differences? And with whom?

What surprises me the most is that Gavin has been given the job until the end of the season.

There is so much soccer to be played and so many points to be fought for.

Failing that there is a four month period between now and the end of the season.

A new coach could well be spending time building his team, making changes, bringing in new players, new staff and doing whatever it is going to take to make the Portland Timbers a successful team next season.

By giving Gavin the Job and then publicly stating that you will be bringing in a new coach before the end of the year says to me that the Timbers have written off this season and from the start of next pre-season we will go back two years and start all over again. It doesn’t make any sense. Time is going to be wasted.

Gavin said that he is responsible for signing all the players and responsible for bringing all the staff on board. That statement right there makes me think that he surely has to take more responsibility himself for the current situation that the club finds themselves in.

Gavin also said that its now up to him to bring out the best in all the players that he brought into the team but the question has to be are the players that he brought in good enough to bring success to the club and is Gavin Wilkinson good enough to get the best out of those players that are currently at the club?

Merritt Paulson must think so, Otherwise he wouldn’t have given Gavin the job. Gavin Wilkinson must think so, otherwise he wouldn’t have accepted the job.

This is the part where I give my opinion and what I think needs to happen is the Timbers need to start their search for a new coach immediately, Yesterday if possible.

That coach has to be a specific style of coach who understands MLS inside and out, one who understands the immediate pressure he is going to be under from the Front Office at Jeld Wen and the fans who pay to watch.

What the Timbers fans don’t need is another wasted season where success is only a dream and not a reality. Portland fans deserve the best of the best. Having the talent on the field will only get you so far with the fans. The heart, the desire and the passion is what gives you the right to pull on the jersey as a Timbers player and each and every single player who walks into the Timbers locker room should understand that from the first day.

The Timbers players need to show more confidence in their appearance. They need to have that belief installed into them that no matter where you play, be it at home in front of the Timbers army of 20.000 or away to the few fans who are lucky enough to make the journey, that they can beat anyone.

True to the end. This hardy bunch in Salt Lake witnessed the last Timbers game under John Spencer

Have the thought in your head that anyone who gets in my way of victory today will be in for a rough night and if you walk off the field having lost a game, you must walk off the field with your head held high knowing that you gave everything you could for the love of the game, the fans and the badge.

Nothing else is acceptable as a member of the Portland Timbers Football Club and nothing else should be.

So what now?

One thing is for sure that Portland Timbers will be one of the best teams in Major League at some stage, When that will be and who will lead them to that glory only time will tell.

Follow Ian Joy @JOYPAULIAN

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More coverage:

With hindsight, were Kris Boyd’s words prophetic?

Troy Perkins: We’ve got to start from the ground up

Running reaction to Timbers firing head coach John Spencer

John Spencer fired; Merritt Paulson holds emotional press conference

Steven Smith: Everything the coach said before the game happened. It’s up to us.

Kosuke Kimura: ‘We have the talent, but we just need something clicking’

Portland Far From Playoffs At Halfway Point - by Brennan Burns

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Comments for Once a Cascadian – A sad day in the Rose City are now closed.

  1. Well said Cap’n! Took the words right out of my head.

  2. I am also confused captain. So what happens if the Timbers do well? Does GW still go back to being GM? If the Timbers absolutely collapse? Does GW pay with his job? MP said yesterday GW is the interim manager because he was the most experienced person. But if he is only an iterim manager than why does that matter?

    In the end what are we gaining from having him as interim for the rest of season? Players don’t learn anything cause a new manager is going to implement his own style so they have to start over in January. MP doesn’t learn anything about a potential manager cause GW isn’t on the hot seat because this isn’t his long term job.

    It’s basically treading water at best, drowning at worst.

  3. If the results improve dramatically does that mean the GM will get the coaching job as well,perhaps that’s what he wants.

  4. Rant, rant, rant. What do we know, Ian? At your own admission we don’t know the exact reasons for Spencers dismissal, but then you launch into a rant as to why he was fired. Which is it? And nowhere in the press release rules out Wilkinson for the job next year- some might argue that he has the inside edge. And as for your theory that the TA should wait 3 years for a winning club-what planet are you living on? Every franchise expects their manager to win today. If you ask me, Spencer was given the benefit of the doubt. did he get the resources he needed? Maybe not. But great managers find a way to win while the rest are swept away to the dustbin of history. I’ll miss Spencer, as a Sounder fan, for his passion of Cascadian derbys and honesty in the press. at the end of the day none of that matters, his record speaks for itself.

  5. Wilkinson won’t be taking the job next year. Both he and Paulson were sure to mention it a couple of times in the press conference. He doesn’t have an eye on the long-term coaching position.

    • Wilkinson won’t take the coaching job because that means he could be fired. Instead he will continue to guide Merritt behind the scenes.

    • Anybody remember when George W Bush asked gave **** Cheney the task of finding and vetting candidates to be his Vice President? Cheney proceeded to rule out every candidate except himself. Just sayin’

  6. This article was quoted on the “March to the Match” pod case on mlssoccer.com. Speaking of pod cases in hope that Prost will restart theirs?

    • Jeff,

      I would love to restart the Radio Sounders show. It just are up too many hours in a week to do without a sponsor. Now if we had one ….

  7. Great piece. Definitely need to find a man who can fill that position and someone that knows the MLS in and out. Also if they do find that coach and things go sour, isn’t it going to be on GW and Merritt instead of the coach. The heat will be on them if things fail.

    Enjoy the website and I’ll continue reading.

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