MLS

Spencer handed reins in Portland

FoxSoccer.com Ives Galarcep
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The MLS expansion Portland Timbers have named John Spencer as the team's first head coach.

A long-time assistant for the Houston Dynamo, Spencer had been considered the favorite for the job for months, and sources tell Fox Soccer that Spencer and the Timbers had agreed to a deal earlier this summer.

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Spencer, 39, will coach the Timbers, which begin play in 2011 as one of two MLS expansion teams along with the Vancouver Whitecaps.

A former Scottish national team player who previously played for Chelsea before spending four seasons in MLS as a player for the Colorado Rapids, Spencer was lead assistant coach under Dom Kinnear on two Houston Dynamo championship teams in 2006 and 2007. He resigned from his Dynamo coaching position last month after agreeing to terms with the Timbers. Newly-retired MLS standout Steve Ralston replaced him on the Houston coaching staff.

A leading candidate for an MLS head coaching position for years, Spencer made waves after the 2007 season when he revealed that he had turned down the Chicago Fire head coaching job because the Fire offered too little money.

The hiring is a good one for the expansion club because the team lands a young and respected coach who has experience working within the parameters of MLS and who has shown an ability to develop young talent. His fiery personality and ability to command a locker room should help the expansion Timbers as they adjust to life in MLS.

Ives Galarcep is a senior writer for FoxSoccer.com covering Major League Soccer and the U.S. national team.

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