Earlier this week, we saw John Spencer's reign come to an end. It was a little sad, despite the recent performances of the team. When he first came on last year I thought that this could be a man who is with the team for years, makes his mark and leaves on his own terms. But alas, it was not to be.
In any case, with his departure, the Portland Timbers are now led by Gavin Wilkinson while a hunt begins for the next permanent head coach for the Portland Timbers. The FO mentioned that there was about 10 targets being sought after currently, but didn't give any specific details other than that. Here are our choices for possible candidates:
No doubt, a tough target indeed, but the Portland Timbers could be seen as the next logical step for this former midfielder. He currently coaches the U-23 USMNT, though he did fail to make the Olympics, and Akron's college team, the very same one that coached Darlington Nagbe to a championship in 2010.
Still, given his recent US Soccer hire and the fact that he has a couple years left on his contract with Akron, this is probably a long shot.Tab Ramos
A soccer veteran from Spain, Mexico and later MLS, Ramos has gone on to take over the head coaching position for US Soccer's U-20 Men's team. Ramos' influence on the team would no doubt be a boon for the Latin influenced players on the team, especially given his experience south of the border.
Still, like Porter, Ramos only recently took over the U-20 job in 2011 so the likelihood of him leaving for MLS is slim.
While not currently a coach, Claudio Reyna is largely considered to be the best soccer player that the United States has ever produced, which includes a long list of pedigree clubs such as Manchester City, Bayer Leverkusen, Rangers and, of course, the New York Red Bulls. He is currently US Soccer's Youth Technical Director, but perhaps a coaching gig could be where he ultimately finds his calling.
Gary Smith, the former Colorado Rapids coach, could also be lined up as a possible coach given his experience with the league and his ability to coach a championship team, though never an overly dominant squad. Still, if the Timbers FO is looking for MLS coaching experience Gary Smith could be the answer.
He is currently the manager of League One side Stevenage. Maybe he could be lured back.
Former Chicago Fire head coach, Timbers fans will most likely remember him as a possible candidate in the lead up to the the Timbers' inaugural season. While never a break out coach, you would be hard pressed to find another head coach candidate with more MLS experience than Hamlett as he's worked within the league in some sort of coaching position since 1998.
Hamlett is currently an assistant coach at the Montreal Impact. Last year he was an assistant with the Vancouver Whitecaps.
The former New England Revolution coach, Steve Nicol has a smart head on his shoulders as he was able to successfully coach a perennially underfunded team to the MLS Cup Finals on three separate occasions and was named MLS Coach of the Year in his first year. While Hamlett might have more overall MLS experience, Nicol's almost 10 years with the Revolution could be the kind of real deal experience the Timbers desperately need.
As of now, Steve Nicol does not seem to have a coaching position meaning he should be available.
Another US Soccer candidate, Richie Williams has been an interim head coach for the New York Red Bulls on two separate occasions and an assistant with the team from 2006-2011.Like other coaches in this list, he comes with plenty of MLS experience.
Recently he joined up with the US Soccer coaching staff when he took over the U-18 team in 2011, followed by the U-17 team this year.
One of MLS's best defenders when he joined the LA Galaxy in 2009, Berhalter went on to be an assistant coach for the team he retired with in 2011, the same side that had a rock steady defense and ultimately won pretty much everything the league had to offer. Berhalter comes with not only MLS experience, but plenty of international experience as a player.
Berhalter is currently the manager of Hammarby IF in Sweden. It's unknown if he would be willing to come back to the US for a coaching position here.
Another former MLSer and American who has taken a position overseas, Earnie Stewart is a former player who has internatinal club experience, MLS experience and USMNT experience. The interesting thing to note about Stewart is that he is quoted as saying: "One ambition I do have is to go back to the United States and be of importance to soccer." Perhaps that desire can be satiated by a head coaching gig?
Stewart is currently the Director of Football for Dutch Eredivisie club AZ, the same club that has current USMNT player Jozy Altidore.
You had to have known this was coming. I'm mostly joking, but hear me out regardless. Eric Wynalda would certainly be an interesting choice, given his antics with MLS and, more recently, Merritt Paulson. Still, he certainly showed he has some coaching chops when he lead his 5th division amateur team on a great run through the US Open Cup, the same run that saw them defeat the current Portland Timbers squad.
Wynalda is the current interim coach of the Atlanta Silverbacks as they look for their new permanent head coach.
So, what do you think? Do any of these choices look good to you? Is there somebody else you'd like to see? Sound off in the comments and vote in the poll!