The Portland Timbers became the first MLS team this offseason to hire its new head coach, announcing on Monday that Phil Neville will be taking over for interim coach Miles Joseph. Neville, curiously enough, was also supposedly a candidate for the New England Revolution job, so it's possible the Timbers felt some pressure to make the offer sooner than later.
The hiring has been met mostly with groans from Timbers fans and laughter from just about everyone else. That's mostly because Neville's resume is not exactly impressive. During parts of three seasons with Inter Miami, Neville amassed a 31-41-11 record. Miami missed the playoffs in his first season and were in second-to-last place when he was fired during his third season. The only season in which Miami were remotely decent was Year 2, and that year they were just 14-14-6 with a -9 goal-difference.
As if to taunt their own fans, the Timbers also released this peak-cringe social-media video:
Suffice it to say, it's not exactly ideal for your new coaching hire to be getting roasted like this in the replies and quote tweets. I didn't have the patience to go through every single comment, but the closest thing I found to a positive reaction was "cool video short!" (although I'm more than willing to admit that there's probably a silent majority out there who is absolutely giddy about hiring someone who's best known for being good friends with David Beckham).
What's particularly baffling about the hire is that the Timbers job – despite missing the playoffs in each of the past two seasons – would seemingly be pretty attractive. They have a very engaged fan base, an owner who was willing to drop $10M on a transfer fee last offseason and have enjoyed a fair amount of success over the years. It has historically also been pretty stable, as Neville will be just the fourth full-time coach and the third since 2013.
At the very least, I would think that the Timbers job is significantly more attractive than the other current openings. Here's how I would rank those from least to most attractive (Note: I did not include either the New York Red Bulls or Chicago Fire because it's not entirely clear if they are actually looking for coaches):
I have a hard time believing that anyone with real options is seriously considering this job. Robin Fraser actually did a pretty good job during parts of five seasons, even winning coach of the year once, but got fired when the bottom fell out this year. They've got an absentee owner, a roster that's a bit of a mess and a fanbase in open revolt.
Only marginally more attractive than the Rapids job is D.C. United, a once-proud club that hasn't qualified for the playoffs since 2019, hasn't even won a playoff round since 2015 and hasn't been a serious contender since winning their last of five MLS Cups in 2004. They don't currently have a general manager and haven't had one in over a year.
Depending on your perspective, Adrian Heath either did an admirable job of crafting interesting rosters despite not having much budget or didn't do enough with those interesting rosters. Either way, he's out and now it's someone else's mess. There's some good building blocks here between the stadium, fans and roster, but real work needs to be done.
New England Revolution
It might be a little surprising to see them so high on this list, but Bruce Arena at least showed that success can be achieved here. Arena led the Revs to a Supporters' Shield title last year and had them sitting pretty in second place before whatever happened, happened. This is still a pretty good roster, the soccer budget seems solid and it could turn into an absolutely plumb job if they ever get a stadium built.
Looking back at the week's news
Eliminated from the playoffs, Sartini may face punishment; Emma Hayes era starts any moment for USWNT; learn more about Reign opponent Gotham FC
After losing 1-0 to LAFC at home in front of their largest MLS crowd, Vancouver Whitecaps head coach Vanni Sartini took several shots at the refereeing. One remark went further than usual.
The referee's association has already spoken against that statement.
Emma Hayes is going to be the next USWNT coach. Which is great for Reign fans – Laura Harvey was rumored to be on the short list. Hayes was dominant in England with Chelsea and was formerly a strong U.S. college and WPS coach.
Gotham FC has plenty of Seattle connections. One minority owner is Sue Bird. Their GM is former Reign player Yael Averbuch. They've been 'lovable losers' for some time, now they are seeking the championship with OL Reign planted firmly in their way.
- John Textor, owner of several men's soccer teams, went off after watching Botafogo lose. He has yet to comment after Lyon's men fell to 18th of 18 in France over the weekend.
- Aziel Jackson: Soccer, music & a dream unite at St. Louis CITY. AZ lived in Renton for about a year during his soccer journey.
- Matt Doyle started reviewing went wrong for the MLS clubs that aren't still in the playoffs.
- Jacksonville Armada, the former NASL 2.0 team, is joining MLS Next Pro.
- Oalex Anderson and North Carolina FC won the USL League One title.
Puget Sound Soccer
Sounders v Dallas, 7 pm PT on Friday (MLS Season Pass). Win and advance. | Reign v Gotham, 5 pm PT on Saturday (CBS, Paramount+) in the NWSL Final
You have plans this weekend. They involve a championship.