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Who should be hired as Portland’s next coach?

Spencer (Getty Images)

The dust is just settling in the aftermath of John Spencer's dismissal as coach of the Portland Timbers, with the second-year MLS club looking for a new candidate who will carry the team to new heights.

Gavin Wilkinson, the club's general manager and former coach during the team's USL days, has been given the interim reins for the remainder of the season while the club searches for its long-term replacement. Much like the Vancouver Whitecaps did with Martin Rennie last season, the Timbers could find their replacement in the coming weeks or months but not officially turn the page until after this current season ends, giving the incoming coach a fresh start.

So who are some of the best candidates for the job? There's always the chance that Wilkinson succeeds and decides to proceed as coach. If the Timbers are looking for an MLS-tested coach, Former New England Revolution coach Steve Nicol and current U.S. U-17 coach Richie Williams present a pair of options.

If the Timbers elected to look within the U.S. youth coaching tree, Caleb Porter and Tab Ramos would be two intriguing names. Then there's the thought of turning to a wildcard candidate such as Eric Wynalda, whose Cal FC team defeated the Timbers at Jeld-Wen Field in the U.S. Open Cup and has been building momentum after taking on the Atlanta Silverbacks coaching job last week.

Those are just a few names to consider. Who do you think should be hired as the Timbers' next coach? Cast your vote after the jump:



How did you vote? Which coach do you think the Timbers should hire? Anyone not on our list, maybe a foreign coach or someone in the lower tiers of U.S. Soccer, that you think would be the perfect fit for the job?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Okugo replaced Jared Jefrey at defensive midfield in the Canada game and started
    the El Salvador game in the same position.

    Bunbury and Valentin did not play in the vital El Salvador game.

    The USSF shares a lot of blame for allowing Porter to get away with putting in about 10 minutes of coaching time with these guys. Given that, starting as many Akron players, who know him and who he knows is a reasonable strategy.

    Take a look at most international teams over the years and you will find managers frequently try to pick as many guys from the same team as possible. Even if they are a little less talented, the calculation is the “chemistry” and “teamwork” makes up for that.

    It does not always work out but saying that Porter picked the Akron guys, especially in defense, just to promote Akron is just lazy on your part.

    Porter was naive but mostly, so were his players, They could easily have gotten themselves past the group stage and, based on their talent, should be in the Olympics.

    The careers of guys like Corona, Shea, Boyd, Mix, Gatt and so on took a big hit. Adudinho cemented his reputation as a good looking loser. They denied themselves a big opportunity. They, all of them, could have been a big deal and had all sorts of opportunities come their way.

    Instead, they are now obscure and will pay for Sean Johnson’s error for years.


    Lineups for El Salvador game:
    USA: 1-Bill Hamid (18-Sean Johnson, 39); 3-Kofi Sarkodie, 2-Ike Opara, 4-Perry Kitchen,13-Jorge VillafaƱa; 16-Amobi Okugo, 8-Mix Diskerud, 10-Joe Corona (20-Michael Stephens, 88); 7-Freddy Adu (capt.) (14-Joe Gyau, 90+3), 15-Terrence Boyd, 11-Brek Shea

    Subs not used: 5-Zarek Valentin, 6-Jared Jeffrey, 12-Teal Bunbury, 17-Tony Taylor, 19-Sheanon Williams
    Head coach: Caleb Porter

  2. Some of you youngn’s (admittedly, TIV, I don’t know how old you really are) have no idea what AstroTurf was.

    I played on it back in the 70s and 80s. First time I ever saw a “fieldturf” type product was about 1995 and it was a godsend. Is it exactly like real grass? No … the bumps and imperfections in the soil below are not as evident and it plays like very short grass. Astroturf was like playing on a thick ScotchBrite pad.

  3. He’ll probably leave Egypt sooner rather than later. He has such quality playing for him, but every imaginable obstacle in his path otherwise.

  4. Nowak was never an assistant coach except for the US Olympic Team/NT under Bradley. You can hate on Preki’s style of play (totally unlike how he was as a player) but he got good results with Chivas and at least had a plan for TFC.

    I think it’s too easy to generalize “Nicol never own anything” or “so and so won a Cup so they’re a winner.” The truth is that ever coach has strengths and weaknesses. My take on Spencer was that he got his team to play hard but not smart. Tactically he wasn’t strong, was probably too arrogant to take advice from others (that’s a guess on my part) which meant that having a good assistant or TD or scout meant little for him. And I question his talent evaluation. It’s not so much about hiring a “good” coach b/c there are guys like Winter who have won other places but don’t succeed in MLS. It’s about a guy who’s a fit for the circumstances/situation you’re in. A screamer who is going to try to get the team to work harder or play tougher is a waste b/c they probably can’t out-do Spencer. You could say “hire a tactician”….when Juan Carlos Osorio was Mr. Tactician—but he didn’t build teams full of players who handled a new role and set of tactics every game well.

  5. How about Okugo? He’s playing quite well at CB right now.

    But no Porter had to play his Akron boys, Bunbury, Valentin, Sarkodie, who are all on a trajectory to amount to nothing at the MLS and international levels. Kitchen, the jury is still out, but all four Akron buddies got serious minutes.

  6. Hey we fired Bradley for losing in the Gold Cup FINAL vs a talented Mexico team in front of a hostile crowd in Pasadena, where his team had a 2-0 lead before an injury to Cherundolo derailed everything.

    Porter couldn’t get out of a GROUP with Canada and El Salvador, despite starting with a 5-0 win over lowly Cuba, with what HE said was our most talented and deepest team ever, in US-friendly Nashville.

  7. When was he supposed to realize the defense was lousy? After the 6-0 thrashing of Cuba? Probably not. Maybe after the Canada game. Who would you have put in since you are clearly a better coach? Maybe it should have been Freddy Adu and Joe Gyau in central defense, that seems like it could have worked. It’s not like the player pool was loaded with talent he ignored. Also, not sure if you have heard or not, but Porter actually has another team he coaches and is wildly successful with. Yes it is a college team, but it is also a team he gets to work with regularly as oppose to a national team. So it’s not really crazy that he would be successful with a club team that he also would get to work with regularly.

  8. Since when are a couple of games “demonstrating an ability to coach a team of ragtags”? If that’s all it takes, they should never have fired Spencer as he did the same vs Seattle and San Jose. But unfortunately for both, you have to look at a larger body of work than that.

  9. A very similar article ran on the mls site a few days back. I’mmpretty sure it’s all speculative.

    Senior Bob needs to keep looking overseas, a return to MLS will seem to too many like a retrogression, even if it’s not.

  10. I concede it’d be a gamble on Paulson’s part, but I actually just remembered that Paulson and Wynalda got into a Twitter fight a few months ago over something; called him a “Twitter trainwreck.” So, Paulson already loathes his personality.

    Anyway, I like Wynalda’s think-outside-the-box approach. Maybe it’d do Portland some good, but yes, it’d be a risk.

  11. Caleb Porter’s a joke, right? Managed the U23s into the ground while benching Gyau and leaving a lousy defense intact. Any coach worth his snuff would have realized that defense was subpar and played people out of position or otherwise addressed it, not just gone to qualifying with hope.

  12. What about Colin Clarke? Good regular seasons with Dallas just couldn’t get over the playoff hump, turned the Islanders into an international force for a bit, which is amazing, and managed the PR NT to wins against Bermuda and home draws against T&T and Honduras. Now, hasn’t done so well with Carolina, but perhaps worth a try? I just don’t know why he’s not considered more.

  13. Onalfo won zip during his tenure, couldn’t get KC above 4th in conference, lost more than he won. Hamlett to me actually makes more sense, made two conference finals and a Superliga final. But you might take a cup-winning coach if you had a choice.

  14. Bradley would be the better choice if available because he won with Chicago and made Chivas respectable for a time, where Nicol just took second repeatedly then faltered.

    Bradley would have to be available but Egypt doesn’t have a game that counts again until March 2013, which is plenty of time to stew. Egypt would have to risk their first place rung in qualifying — perhaps a dubious decision, punishing the coach for regional performance when the team is lined up for international progression — but crazier things have happened.

  15. Save the hyperbole. Wynalda has proven to take overlooked players for a few matches and win a few. He has no legitimate experience otherwise. Plus Pualson would absolutely loathe his personality. Wynalda is NOT a viable candidate for Portland.

  16. No. He’s demonstrated his ability to coach a team of ragtags, and let’s fact it, Portland are a bunch of ragtags. There’s talent there, but they don’t play cohesive soccer at all.

  17. I think Spencer joins the growing line of MLS coaches who were great #2s, but average head coaches. Guys like Denis Hamlett, Preki, and Piotr Nowak.

  18. I’d suggest Brian Bliss. He’s been involved in MLS for years… player, assistant coach, technical director, etc.

  19. you people who want Bob Bradley are delusional. He’d never leave the Egypt NT. if Steve Nichol can achieve what he did in NE with an owner who only cares about his NFL team, think about what he can do here with MP.


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