In a move that wasn’t much of a surprise, the Portland Timbers officially announced that former Houston Dynamo’s assistant John Spencer will become the team’s head coach when they begin MLS play in 2011. Spencer, 39, had interviewed for the position last December, and had resigned from his position with Houston in July, making it seem quite likely that he would be named Timbers’ coach. Current coach Gavin Wilkinson will remain with the club as technical director. Spencer had been Dominic Kinnear’s assistant in Houston since 2006, and also coached the Houston Dynamo reserve team that won the 2008 ML:S Reserve Division championship.
Spencer was born in Glasgow, Scotland, and began his 18 year playing career with Rangers. As a Catholic, his 1985 signing with Rangers was quite controversial, given the club’s “Protestants’ only” stance that barred Catholics from any official connection with the team. Spencer had some success with Rangers, but after a few short loan stints, including a loan to Hong Kong club Lai Sun, he was sold to Chelsea in 1992, where he scored 36 times in 103 appearances. Spencer also played for Everton and the Motherwell team in Scotland before coming to MLS in 2001, playing four seasons with the Colorado Rapids. In Colorado, the 5’6″ forward scored 37 goals in 88 appearances.
As an assistant coach in Houston, Spencer helped Kinnear guide the Dynamo to successive MLS titles in 2006 and 2007. The team also made playoff runs in 2008 and 2009. Spencer is married and has three children.