John Spencer

Spencer's language trouble wasn't an accent

The soundbites never quite matched the reality for former Portland coach
July 9, 2012 / By Mike Donovan, oregonsports.com

“To fasten your seatbelt, you take this little fiddly bit and insert that little fiddly bit and how you drove to the bleedin’ airport without knowing this, I will never know.”

No matter what happened on the field, John Spencer will be remembered as a man who had the gift of gab. Whether in a commercial for a corporate sponsor, a post-game press conference or an interview with national media, Spencer had a way with words.

But, words don't make for a successful tenure as a coach. While Spencer’s final record with the club is a respectable 16-22-13, winning just two of his 25 away matches spelled doom for the Scot.

In his season-and-a-half in Portland, Spencer was never able to meld what he said with the performance of his team on the field. Here is a look back at some of Spencer’s words and whether or not they were able to translate to his squad.

Spencer at his introductory press conference on August 11, 2010
“You can’t cross the line, but you can’t back down. You can’t give any ground. You’ve got to match and you’ve got to fight fire with fire.”

While as a player, Spencer was known for never backing down to anyone. His team didn’t always seem to have the same attitude on the pitch. During the 2011 season’s final home game, Mike Chabala received a nasty elbow from Houston’s Danny Cruz. None of Chabala’s teammates went after Cruz either physically or verbally.

When Fredy Montero shoved David Horst to the pitch last month, Timbers were quick to go after him. However, most players can get up for rivalry games. Portland seemed to lack its aggression when taking on opponents that didn’t merit “special” notice.

Spencer in interview with Simon Evans of Reuters Sports, published January 21, 2011
"For me, I was a small striker and there was nothing worse than if the ball was being knocked long to you and you have got to try and get up and challenge big central defenders. Obviously there are times in the game that you have got to do that if you are under pressure but our philosophy will be to go out and pass the ball and try to entertain the fans.”

Despite the previous quote, the Timbers rarely used on-the-pitch strategy that showcased stringing passes together on the ground. Long balls from defenders and in-the-air crosses from the wing have been a hallmark of the Timbers since their MLS debut.

There have been stretches when the Timbers look like they could be a team that could entertain fans through beautiful passing (this year’s home game vs RSL, 2011’s home game vs New England), but those moments were few and far between. The beautiful football that Spencer preached was never a calling card for the play that was seen on the field.

Spencer to StumptownFooty.com on February 29, 2012
“I think that we’re definitely stronger this year. We’ve got more strength and depth.”

While Spencer is certainly not to blame fully for the roster, he certainly had his hand on every player signing the Timbers made. Both Spencer and general manager Gavin Wilkinson had say in which players the Timbers brought in during Spencer’s tenure. And the players were never able to deliver the so-called depth Spencer believed he had.

The best offseason acquisition this season has been central defender Hanyer Mosquera. Unfortunately, centerback was already a position of depth for the club. Heading into the 2012 offseason, Portland’s positions of need seemed to be striker, attacking midfield, and fullback. One of those positions was addressed (Kris Boyd), two of them were not.

When it comes down to it, it is entirely possible that Spencer thought his players were better than they were. He certainly would not be the first coach who got axed for realizing his players too late that his players weren’t good enough.

Spencer on MLSSoccer.com’s ExtraTime Radio podcast on March 13, 2012-
“I try to get the guys ready and motivated for every game, it's important when you are a new club like us to get a winning culture, to build a winning culture. I don’t think you can pick-and-choose your games, when you’re going to play and when you’re not going to play.”

AND

“Last year was a huge learning curve. I don’t think this league gets enough credit for how difficult it is to play on the road. The only way we can crush the doubters’ minds is by producing away from home.”

AND

Spencer to StumptownFooty.com on March 19, 2012-

"You keep mentioning this last year thing. The last year thing is in the past. I keep telling you - that was the first half of the season last year. You know, we're a more mature, experienced group now.

"So as I say, you keep hashing back to things that aren't there anymore. Hopefully they aren't there anymore. I don't think that they are. I think we're more mature as a group.”

At the beginning of the season, Spencer honestly believed his team’s road woes were a thing of the past. He also knew if there was no change in road form, his team would never be able to get over the hump. And that is exactly what happened.

The disparity of home-and-road success is greater than any team in recent MLS memory. While Real Salt Lake struggled mightily in its first two seasons on the road, its home success did not match the Timbers. Even Wilkinson said he has never seen anything like it.

"I've never been in a situation where we 've had a drastic difference in home and away,” Wilkinson said at the press conference to announce Spencer’s firing. Wilkinson also said there has been many discussions on why the Timbers haven’t been able to have any success on the road. No matter who the long-term coach is, he must find a way to win on the road.

John Spencer on MLSSoccer.com’s ExtraTime Radio podcast on June 21, 2012
“At the end of the season, your stats and what you’ve won and you haven’t won will define you as a player. It’s the same at the end of your career.”

AND

“So to win games and be a good player, you gotta produce. All I want to see, all the owner wants to see, and all the fans want to see is not us talking about it, they want to see us do it.”

Just three weeks before his firing, Spencer talked about how quotes mean little without production on the field. For both players and coaches, stats and winning mean more than the type of person you are. It means more than if you have potential or have a good upbringing or look great on paper.

While you can be fired for many things, it's never sound strategy for a coach to not produce meaningful victories. To say John Spencer is to blame solely for poor performances in Cup ties or away performances would be completely unfair. However, it is easier to fire a coach than 30 players. Fair or not, it was Spencer’s job to get results with the team he was given and he knew it.

If MLS coaches were judged on their ability to hold a thoughtful, witty conversation then Spencer would be considered the best coach in the league. Unfortunately for Spencer, it's victories and not quotes that let coaches keep their jobs.



Not like it wasn't on the runway

Mon, 07/09/2012 - 3:27pm
Cliff Pfenning
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It certainly hasn't been a boring first half of the season for the Portland Timbers, and got more unboring Monday when the team fired coach John Spencer.

Relieved of his duties, or removed, or however nicely you want to put it.

The Timbers were a team struggling to put any kind of consistency together, and the constant highs and lows possibly caused by frequent line-up changes made the decision not one that was hard to see coming.

The road losses had to be a factor as did that one, disheartening loss to Cal FC in the US Open Cup, which hits its semifinal stage this week.

If only Kris Boyd had converted that penalty kick in that game.

I'm one of the people saddened by the news. I liked Spencer. And, the team played well at home, which is ideally what you want out of a team. And, it played well against quality opponents - they were at their best against the league's best, twice beating the No. 1 team in the league at Jeld-Wen Field. The team scored in front of the Timbers Army, and wasn't that far away from being a playoff team, either - just four points from fifth place.

But, the road. Man, those road games were painful to watch. Saturday's game at Real Salt Lake was one of the most painful, especially the final 30 minutes when the Timbers got absolutely thrashed. The game brought up plenty of questions. Why wasn't Boyd in the starting line-up? Why was Kosuke Kimura, brought in only Thursday in a trade, in the starting line-up? Why put so much attention on the team's defense, when it seemed to play so much better with some offense taking pressure off the defense - as any team does?

Spencer had exactly one-and-a-half seasons to build the Timbers into something of a playoff contender, especially as more than half the league qualifies for the playoffs. Didn't happen, even though the standings show the team is just four points behind the fifth-place Los Angeles Galaxy and has played two fewer games. The Timbers play the Galaxy Saturday, too.

Despite the struggles of the team, Spencer seemed to have earned the rest of the season to get the team into the top five based on its strong play at home (5-2-2, 17 points) and record (4-2-1) against the best teams in the league - games that have almost all been played in Portland.

Owner Merritt Paulson handled the press conference Monday and made mention of a philosophical difference between coach and management, and he's the final decision maker. At least he was on hand to make the official announcement. However you look at this decision, you knew were it came from. Paulson has done a great job of being visible and representing the franchise in a manner not a lot of fans get - in any of the major leagues. He at least seems to have a clue to where he wants the Timbers to go, which is something the Trail Blazers do not seem to have.

So, general manager Gavin Wilkinson is in as interim coach. At least he has some coaching experience, and successful coaching experience. A couple decades ago, there were plenty of teams that had coaches who were also general managers in professional leagues.

Thanks for the entertainment, coach Spencer. Now, let's see how the Timbers can continue to make the season more entertaining - by beating Los Angeles Saturday for starters.

 

Late goal doesn't phase Spencer

Portland struggles again in the late going, but keeps up strong play
May 27, 2012, By Mike Donovan, oregonsports.com

For the Timbers in 2012, the final 15 minutes have been a horror show in many ways. Saturday night was no different, as Portland gave up a goal after the 75th minute of a match for the eighth time in their 12 matches.

And despite not holding onto a win against the rival Vancouver Whitecaps, John Spencer seemed neither worried or upset about failing to hold onto a late lead.

“For me, its not a massive problem,” said Spencer about the Timbers continually giving up late goals.

Spencer wasn’t the only one, who didn’t seemed to be worried about the late goal.

"They didn't have much tonight, and that one goal was just a matter of the ball bouncing the wrong way," Timbers captain Jack Jewsbury said. "I don't think it's anything but just a bad bounce.”

When asked if he was disappointed with the match, Spencer told the media that he was “disappointed in 1 person only.”

That one person was referee Jorge Gonzalez. And while Spencer was careful never to mention his name, he referred to him on multiple occasions during his post-game press conference. The point of contention occurred in the 65th minute when Kalif Alhassan was felled by Jay DeMerit. Spencer didn’t mince words regarding the play.

“(I’m) absolutely astonished we didn’t get a penalty kick,” Spencer said.   

The Timbers started the match with an attacking lineup that saw the return of Eric Alexander and Kalif Alhassan to the starting lineup. Darlington Nagbe was also moved to attacking center midfield, where he played in his two-goal effort against Real Salt Lake. Spencer was happy with the style of play the new-look Timbers exhibited against their Cascadia Cup foes.

“Some of the best football we’ve played all year,” said Spencer, who didn’t think much of the Whitecaps style in the match. “They came to play for a tie and they got a tie.”

A Kris Boyd goal in the 67th minute put the Timbers ahead. Alhassan’s great defensive effort won the ball for the Timbers, who then slotted the ball to Jewsbury. Jewsbury’s cross was tipped by Vancouver’s Joe Cannon before falling to Boyd, who kicked it into the net.

Boyd’s goal did not hold up, however, as Vancouver’s Darron Mattocks scored his first career MLS goal in the 84th minute. Eric Hassli boxed out Hanyer Mosquera and was able to head the ball towards Mattocks, who deftly chested the ball to himself, before blasting over Troy Perkins.

Halftime saw a 25-minute delay as lightning swept across the Rose City. The final ten minutes of the first half were played in a downpour of rain and hail to go along with swirling winds. Despite the delay, the 25 minutes following halftime saw a Timbers side dominate the run of play.

Despite a three-week league lay-off, Spencer is taking Wednesday’s US Open Cup seriously.

“We’re going to try and win the US Open Cup,” adding that the Timbers do not have a break due to the Cup.

Portland will host Cal FC on Wednesday at Jeld-Wen Field in the third round of the US Open Cup. A win Wednesday could set up a match with three-time defending US Open Cup champion Seattle Sounders.

Tune in Tuesday night at 8:30 PM for No Pity City, live on oregonsports.com and UStream. Also check out oregonsports.com and twitter.com/theMikeDonovan for continuing Timbers coverage.



 


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Spencer could use a slice of satisfaction

A win over Columbus is the first step to salvaging the Timbers season
May 2, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com

It's always the players that get the credit for scoring during a Portland Timbers game, and that's a reality that can't be challenged.

But, after a game, when the slice of Timber gets handed to the players that score, once in a while there ought to be an extra slice, maybe of appreciation for being a big part of that score - even if it's someone not on the playing field. If ever that would happen, it should happen Saturday for Portland coach John Spencer. He looks like he needs it.

Spencer's had a rough start to the 2012 campaign, and there's plenty of online chatter about where he should be coaching next - as in not Portland. He looked pretty weary at the post-practice press conference Tuesday morning. Eight games into the season, that's not entirely unexpected regardless of how well the season's going for any coach. A gaggle of media cameras and recorders shoved basically in your face can't be a wonderful thing. But, his body language just screamed "I'm tired," and not from a bad night's sleep.

Portland's season has been a mess. The Timbers can't hold a lead, can't win on the road, have trouble putting two solid halves together and can't stay healthy. At home, they haven't scored at the South end of Jeld-Wen Field, which means they haven't scored in both halves of a home game. In fact, they haven't scored in both halves of any game.

And, recently, they haven't scored at all. It's been neearly three games since the Timbers scored - five halves.

Soccer City, USA, barely has a pulse online in the MLS world.

Yet, there's plenty of reasons to be pumped about the team still having more than a passing chance of making the playoffs, despite being 18th in the latest MLS Power Rankings released Tuesday. Portland has played well enough to be in the lead or even in nearly every game, and handed top-ranked Sporting Kansas City it's lone loss. The Timbers nearly beat No. 3 Real Salt Lake - giving up a pair of late goals in a 3-2 loss, and gave the LA Galaxy a significant challenge until late in a 3-1 loss.

Those solid performances, though, have been overshadowed by a 1-0 loss at New England, and Saturday's 2-0 loss at Montreal, both of which played out as though the team couldn't wait to get back on a plane and escape to the friendly confines of Soccer City, USA.

Eight games in, there can't be any team more frustrated with their season than the Portland Timbers and their fans. With goalkeeper Troy Perkins doubtful for Saturday, and starting defender Steve Purdy out, the Portland line-up will again be in flux - a major challenge for Spencer to handle.

With Columbus headed for Portland ranked 17th, Saturday's game has the makings of a tremendously frustrating loss, one that would put Spencer's head on a stake in the online world.

Portland needs a win, and a convincing one at that.

The Timbers need to score - on both halves of the Jeld-Wen pitch. New guys need to score - only four players have hit the back of the net.

It wouldn't hurt to have a second-half sub - a move Spencer controls - score. Many of Spencer's moves have actually preceded the opposition scoring, so this is would be a huge burden lifted.

A shutout wouldn't be a terrible thing, either, showcasing a solid line-up - also something that Spencer controls.

A draw Saturday would at least be ... not a loss. The team, fans, owner Merritt Paulson, need this. But, a convincing win, one that shows off Spencer's leadership, could use some extra appreciation, and that should be in the form of some lumber.

There's a great photo waiting to happen - Spencer raising his own slice before heading to meet the press. That's a photo that would get the city, infact the whole league, buzzing again about the Timbers and their coach.

 

 

 

Spencer has plenty of wisdom to pass to Boyd

Portland coach heads list of Scotland's top MLS players
Feb. 1, 2012 / By Mike Donovan, oregonsports.com

This offseason has seen the Portland Timbers sign Scotsman Kris Boyd to a lucrative contract, while the Montreal Impact selected Scotish-born Calum Mallace in the second round of the MLS draft.

Mallace and Boyd are trying to follow in the footsteps of 11 other Scottish players who have played in at least one MLS league match. The previous make up a list of both champions and busts.

Here is a ranking, in order from best to worst, of every Scottish player in MLS history based on their performance in the U.S.  

1. John Spencer – Colorado (2001–04)

The current Timber head coach made 88 appearances for the Rapids and finished his MLS career with 37 goals and 17 assists. Has the most goals and best scoring ratio (1 goal per 2.4 appearances) of any Scot in MLS history. He is also the only Scot to be named to multiple MLS Best XI teams.  His 14 goals in 2001 were the good for third most in the MLS, as were his 14 in 2003.

2. Mo Johnston – Kansas City (1996–2001)

Johnston made 149 regular season appearances for the Kansas City Wizards, scoring 31 times for the club. He also played in 15 playoff games including the 2000 MLS Cup. Well respected by teammates and loved by fans, Johnston was the first player to hold the 2000 MLS Cup trophy after he helped KC beat the Chicago Fire, 1-0. Johnston has the most appearances and assists (28) of any Scottish player in MLS history.

3. Richard Gough – Kansas City, San Jose (1997–98)

A defender, Gough played 36 games in two seasons in the MLS. The former captain of the Scottish national team scored twice in MLS career, both for San Jose. After his 1997 season with Kansas City, he became the first Scot to be named to the MLS Best XI and is just one of two Scots to ever be named to the MLS Best XI. In 1997, he played alongside fellow Johnston, marking the only time in MLS history that a team played two Scots at the same time.

4. Paul Dalglish – Houston (2006–07)

The son of Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish, Paul played in just 11 regular season games and four postseason games over his two MLS seasons in Houston. The striker scored four goals total, two of which were in the regular season. He is most remembered for his two-goal performance in the 2006 Western Conference Finals against the Colorado Rapids for which he was named Man of the Match. He won the MLS Cup in both his seasons in the MLS. 

5. Adam Moffat – Columbus, Portland, Houston (2007)

Moffat’s MLS career has been injury-riddled and full of ups-and-downs. A successful 2010 season with Columbus and a great end-of-2011 with Houston sandwiched a subpar stint with Portland. To date, Moffat has played in 61 games in his five MLS seasons and scored seven goals. His two goals last season were both named MLS Goals of the Week. He was also named Dynamo Newcomer of the Year, despite playing just 13 games with the club. Is expected to start in central midfield this season for the Dynamo.

6. Jamie Smith – Colorado (2009)

The current Rapid has seen time in 46 regular season matches for the club, scoring four times, while assisting on 13 other goals. Started in Colorado’s 2010 MLS Cup victory in the central midfield. Became third Scot to win MLS cup. His goal in the 2011 season opener against the Timbers was nominated for MLS Goal of the Week. In both 2009 and 2011, Smith’s season was cut short by a knee injury. Smith is still recovering from a torn ACL and hope to return to the pitch this June. 

7. Thomas “Tam” McManus – Colorado (2008)

In his one season in Colorado, McManus appeared in 22 league matches, making 15 starts. His five goals in 2008 were the third most for the Rapids. McManus is most remembered for his long distance goal against Chivas USA, which was named MLS goal of the week and one of the ten best MLS goals in 2008. After 2008, McManus and the Rapids could not agree on a new contract and McManus signed with Irish club Derry City.

8. Kenny Deuchar – Salt Lake (2008)

Deucher played in 29 regular season games in his one season with Real Salt Lake before returning to Scotland. The striker also played one minute in one postseason game for the club. He scored 3 goals and had two assists while making 18 starts for the club, which made its first trip to the postseason. One of the few professional soccer players ever to have been a practicing doctor while playing, Deuchar could never match his scoring rate that he had with previous club in Scotland, where he scored 63 times in 93 games for Gretna.

9. Jamie Clark – San Jose (1999–2000)

The only Scottish MLS player who attended college in the United States, Clark was drafted by the San Jose Clash in the 2nd round with the 21st overall pick. The defender played 34 games for San Jose, getting 27 starts. He scored two goals in the MLS including a late equalizer in his second professional game. Also added two assists in the MLS. His official biography on the University of Washington’s web site (where he is now the head coach) describes his MLS career as “disappointing and injury-filled.”

10. Kevin Souter – Kansas City (2008-09)

Souter made just eight appearances in two seasons with Kansas City. He was signed to the Wizards after appearing at an open tryout for the club. The midfielder scored his one and only MLS goal in a 2-0 victory over Toronto. After the MLS, Souter became a player-coach for Ryerson University in Toronto.

11. Peter Canero – New York (2006)

Canero played just 278 minutes played in nine appearances with the Metros. He had zero goals or assists and ended his MLS career with as many yellow cards as shots on goal (1). Despite being known as a player who could play multiple positions, he was beat out by Seth Stammler, Carlos Mendes & Jeff Parke.  He is easily Scotland’s most monumental MLS bust due to his cost of $142,996 and his lack of production.

 

Training your brain for 2012

Portland has plenty of game for a playoff push
Jan. 25, 2012 / By Mike Donovan

It is hard not to analyze the first few trainings for the 2012 Portland Timbers without jumping to conclusions. After months without the team on the pitch, watching them for two straight hours leaves your head spinning in all sorts of directions about what kind of season Portland will have.

That being said, here are 11 observations from Wednesday morning’s training session.

1- The practice consisted of fitness drills, lots of one-touch passing drills and 9v9 half-field scrimmages. Head Coach John Spencer’s voice filled the training ground during the passing drills, but he was quiet for most of the 9v9 games.

2. It was nice to see some aggression displayed during the mock games. Futty Danso was constantly yelling directions at teammates, as was Troy Perkins.

There were also some contentious challenges, the hardest of which happened when Kalif Alhassan took out Eric Alexander with a slide tackle. Alexander shoved Alhassan’s legs to the ground and yelled at the Ghanaian before walking away. While some might see the chippiness as a bad thing, it seemed that none of the players nor coaches had any issues with it. 

3. The field players were broken up into 3 squads of 8, while the goalkeepers rotated between the teams.  Missing from the teams were David Horst, Sal Zizzo, and Jose Adolfo Valencia. Horst and Zizzo are continuing rehab from injuries, while Valencia was having “physical testing” done. 

4. While the teams were not broken down by playing time necessarily, two of the teams certainly shared the most experienced Timbers players. Here is a breakdown of the teams-

Team A- Jack Jewsbury, Mike Chabala, Darlington Nagbe, James Marcelin, Eddie Johnson, Eric Brunner, Miguel Ibarra, and Hanyer Mosquera

Team B- Rodney Wallace, Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Danso, Alhassan, Jorge Perlaza, Diego Chara, Bright Dike, and Franck Songo’o

Team C- Alexander, Steve Purdy, Chris Taylor, Lovel Palmer, Freddie Braun, Ryan Kawulok, Brent Richards and Brendan King

5. The team of Johnson and Chabala was the most consistent and scored quite a few goals. Chabala, in particular, had some nice crosses, while Johnson looked completely game ready after dealing with concussions last season. Other players who looked good were Nagbe, who chased down quite a few long balls, and Brunner, who continues to dominate the air. Ibarra seemed to struggle to hit accurate crosses and shots.

6. Danso led his team with a steady presence at the back, while Wallace looked good when on the attack. Chara seemingly had no influence in the middle and appeared to be a step slow on the attack. Sango’o has the ability to get through traffic looks like he might be able to stick with the team.

7. Alexander was aggressive throughout the practice and put in the ball in the back of the net on multiple occasions. Taylor has some decent crosses, but had a few costly mistakes at the back, including a complete whiff on a clear that set up a Perlaza goal.

8. First round pick Jean-Baptiste is much thicker in person than he appears. He has a similar body type to Dike. After practice, Spencer talked about the massive jump from college soccer to pro soccer and it seems Jean-Baptiste is experiencing that. I would be surprised if Jean-Baptiste is in the 18-man game day roster on March 12.

9. If I had to make a prediction based on one practice, I’d say Songo’o might get signed for the season. He is definitely my favorite out of non-roster invitees. The only issue is the fact he is from Cameroon and would count against the international roster spots.

10. After practice, Spencer said Nagbe was “by far, technically the best player on the team.” He also said he projects that Nagbe could be as good as Brad Davis and Landon Donovan. Spencer also said that Jewsbury will be captain for as long as Spencer is the coach of the Timbers.

11. My first prediction at who will be in the 18 for the season opener vs the Philadelphia Union on March 12. The starters will be Perkins, Palmer, Brunner, Mosquera, Chabala, Nagbe, Jewsbury, Chara, Alhassan, Perlaza, and Johnson. The bench will be Gleeson, Valencia, Marcelin, Wallace, Dike, Danso, and Alexander.

Timbers sign first four players for MLS

Tue, 10/19/2010 - 10:30am
Mike Donovan
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Portland fans will see a few familiar faces next season when the MLS version of Timbers takes the field next season. At a press conference Tuesday, the Timbers announced their first four signings to the MLS club.

There were no surprises among the three returning players. Steve Cronin, Bright Dike, and Ryan Pore all had outstanding seasons for the club.

With Cronin in net the last two years, the Timbers have been very hard to score against. He was USL Goalkeeper of the Year in 2009 and will likely be named to the USSFD-2 Second team this season. Cronin has played for the LA Galaxy and DC United in the MLS.

Dike joined the Timbers in April after being released by the Columbus Crew. He became a fan favorite for the squad with 14 goals in all competitions. His rugged style and determination gives him a unique style as a forward.

Ryan Pore became the first Timber player in team history to lead the league in both goals (15) and points (35). He played three seasons for the Kansas City Wizards before joining the Timbers in 2009.

Englishman Eddie Johnson is the only player announced today that didn’t play for the Timbers in 2010. Johnson has played for the USL’s Austin Aztex for the last two seasons and was the runner-up to Pore in the league scoring race this season with 14 goals and 32 points. Johnson once played 8 minutes for Manchester United in 2003 in a Carling Cup match against Leeds United.

Before the presser, Wilkinson also said that the Timbers will sign two more players from the 2010 Timbers squad. He said one will be a midfielder who was outstanding at the end of the season (Most likely Kalif Alhassan) and the other a defender who also came on strong (I believe it will be Gambian International Futty Danso).

While no one knows how the first four signings will do for the Timbers it is interesting to look back at other franchises first signings (Listed by the year they first played in the MLS).

 

2010- Philadelphia Union signed no players before their expansion draft.

2009- The Seattle Sounders first played signed was Frenchman Sebastien Le Toux. Le Toux had played for the USL version of the Sounders. Le Toux had 15 starts in 2009 for Seattle. Le Toux was then selected by the Union in the expansion draft. This season Le Toux was named to the MLS all-star team and has 13 goals and 11 assists.

2008- The San Jose Earthquakes signed no players before their expansion draft

2007- The MLS’s first Canadian team, Toronto FC, made Canadian national team player Jim Brennan the club’s first signing. The defender had played for numerous English teams before returning to Canada. Brennan played in 84 games for Toronto in three seasons, before retiring at the beginning of 2010.

2005- Real Salt Lake made a splash when they traded for Jason Kreis, who had scored 91 goals for the MLS’s Dallas Burn prior to being the RSL’s first player. Kreis scored the first goal in club history for both Real Salt Lake and the Dallas Burn. Kreis retired after the 2007 season to become RSL’s head coach. Kreis led RSL to the 2009 MLS Cup championship.

Chivas USA  signed no players before their expansion draft.

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