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Portland Timbers Fire John Spencer

The dreaded sophomore slump has hit the Portland Timbers, and today John Spencer paid the price.

Portland are a woeful 5-8-4 this season and are in next-to-last place in the league’s Western Conference, with no road wins.

Timbers owner Merritt Paulson made the announcement during a press conference at JELD-WEN Field.

“I strongly believe any coach needs an adequate runway to be properly evaluated and that too many owners make coaching changes hastily,” Paulson said. “Given our record last season and the fact we are only halfway through the 2012 campaign, there will be some on the outside who believe the decision to part ways with John is impatient. What I will say is that it is essential to me that the Portland Timbers brand be personified by continuity and commitment to long-term growth. Over time we will demonstrate that.

“However, I am a firm believer that when any personnel decision is made and final there is little to be gained from waiting to put it into effect.”

Spencer was hired on Aug. 11, 2010. In the Scotsman’s first year as coach, the Timbers finished 11-14-9. The 11 victories tied the team with the 2006 Houston Dynamo for fourth on the list of wins for an expansion team.

Spencer issued a statement via the team:

“I want to personally thank Merritt Paulson and the Paulson family for the opportunity to be the first head coach in the history of the MLS Timbers. Also, I want to thank all the coaches, staff, players and fans associated with the team. I very much enjoyed my time with the club and wish everyone the best.”

The Timbers return to action against the LA Galaxy at home on Saturday.

“We are not, by any means, waving a white flag for 2012 here,” Paulson said. “There are still many games to play and we continue to have high expectations for the Timbers this season.”

The Timbers have been massively successful off the field, with demand for season tickets at Jeld-Wen Field was so high in the offseason the Timbers increased the allotment this season by 2,000 seats, with a remaining waiting list of some 5,000 more supporters. The team also increased stadium seating capacity to more than 20,000.

But that increased fan support brought with it increased expectations, something the Timbers could not live up too this season.