Gio out. Marsch in.

I always hate referring to soccer teams with corporate words, but it does seem that the Timbers are at the end of a cycle at this point. Players getting old, overpaid players clogging up the roster, the coaching staff not evolving or getting the most out of the squad at all. it just seems like the Timbers are basically, I mean, pick your own metaphor - running out of gas, heading off a cliff, whatever works best for you.

So what do they do now?

Well, one of the oldest cliches in sports is "you can't fire the players". Given that the roster is what it is, and given that something desperately needs to change to turn things around, the only instantly fungible part of the playing organization is the coach and his staff. Since 2017, Gio Savarese has taken the Timbers to two Cup finals and only missed the playoffs once. That's pretty good, right?

It is. But "pretty good" isn't good enough in this incarnation of MLS. Gio's teams are what they are - he doesn't seem to want to (or be able to) adapt to the way a lot of the more successful teams in the league play. His teams can't handle a press, at all, and his style of attacking is...well, not very effective, I guess I'd say. He's a counterattack-minded coach who has built a team that is supposed to do that, but the problem with that is that a counterattack is easy to stop. And without a plan B, the Timbers are always going to be what we saw in 2022, and have seen so far in 2023 - boring, disorganized, uninspired, and unsuccessful.

So, who should the Timbers bring in? I will admit here that I'm not well versed in the entirety of available or potentially available coaching candidates, so take this with that in mind.

Just to set my level of expectation, I want the Timbers to be relevant in the "best teams in MLS" conversation on a regular basis. I don't expect them to win MLS Cup every year, but I want them to be in all those articles about "Five teams that could win MLS Cup this season", and I want them to be Supporters' Shield contenders more often than not. I want teams to be nervous about playing the Timbers at Providence Park.

Given those expectations, if I were Ned Grabavoy, I'd throw as much money at Jesse Marsch as he wants at this point, and give him the keys to the kingdom. Marsch is a proven coach in both MLS and Europe - his most successful stint was at RB Salzburg, but he also did well at NYRB. He didn't work out at Leeds, but he also didn't make them worse than they were when he started (a lot of Leeds' problem, looking at the underlying numbers, was poor finishing), and he was arguably fired too soon, just days after Leeds spent over 40 million euros to get players that suited his style.

His teams press, his teams advance the ball with a purpose, and not for nothing his teams are also fun to watch. Those are three things that haven't really described the Timbers in the Savarese era. Particularly in the last two years, there are precious few occasions that the Timbers have been able to be described as "fun to watch".

I want the Timbers to dream big. I want them to have big aspirations and high expectations, and those aspirations and expectations come in large part from a coaching staff that is used to working under (and articulating) those expectations. Jesse Marsch knows MLS, so he would be able to hit the ground running and quickly implement his style and vision, and as the Timbers roster continues to get younger and the Timbers gain more salary cap flexibility, they can bring in players that suit his style.

I'm tired of the Timbers being a second tier team with a second tier mentality, and bringing in Jesse Marsch as head coach would go a long way towards showing Timbers supporters that the team is serious about being relevant again.

This FanPost was written by a Stumptown Footy community member and does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the site or its staff.

Loading comments...

Trending Discussions