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Portland Timbers: a club and an owner in a tough spot

Portland Timbers v FC Dallas

FRISCO, TX - JULY 21: Troy Perkins #1 of the Portland Timbers reacts after giving up a second goal to FC Dallas at FC Dallas Stadium on July 21, 2012 in Frisco, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

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The Portland are in a pretty bad place. And owner Merritt Paulson has wedged himself into a difficult spot.

Perhaps it’s too early to say that Portland is responding poorly to the coaching change; the sample size is still a little small. But things are looking bleak.

Since the coaching switch that removed fiery Scotsman John Spencer, the Timbers are 0-3-0, having allowed 11 goals. Yuk.

It all came apart last night in Dallas, where Schellas Hyndman’s team, still missing two of its top three attackers, tore through a Timbers unit that didn’t seem interested in competing. Final score in suburban Dallas: 5-0. During the match, Portland set a league record for longest scoreless streak on the road.

Paulson has put former general manager Gavin Wilkinson in charge on an interim basis. If you accept that firing Spencer was necessary, then Paulson’s plan seemed solid enough; let Wilkinson run the team temporarily and then find the long-term replacement in the off-season.

But Spencer’s dismissal seemed premature to many. (Including me, as you see here.) Bottom line here is that Portland’s roster isn’t good enough. The team, in only its second MLS year, simply hasn’t had enough time to grow and develop into its full self. This is what young teams are.

But what’s done is done; what’s the plan now?

The Timbers don’t seem to be responding to Wilkinson. So, does Paulson abort the plan, adjust again and go get a manager now? To do so is risking a hasty, half-baked decision.

Or, does he hold the course – risking a season of beatings like the one Saturday that could render the Timbers a league punchline?

It’s a tough spot indeed.