Portland Timbers head coach John Spencer yells from the sideline
Craig Mitchelldyer/Portland Timbers

Former Portland Timbers head coach John Spencer returning to Colorado Rapids as assistant

John Spencer is returning to MLS.

The former Colorado Rapids striker who went on to become an assistant coach with the Houston Dynamo and then the head coach for the Portland Timbers' inaugural MLS season in 2011 will return to the Rapids staff as an assistant, it was announced Thursday.

“This is a key addition to our coaching staff,” Paul Bravo, Rapids VP of soccer operations and technical director, said in a team statement. “In the offseason, we set out to find an experienced coach with an attacking background who could add a ‘new voice.’ We believe we have our man. In addition, John knows Colorado, the Rapids and the league very well. We feel he is the ideal fit and we are delighted he has agreed to join us.”

Spencer, 45, spent four seasons in Colorado and will be reunited with former teammate and current Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni. Spencer and Mastroeni played together from 2002-04.

During his first season with the Rapids, Spencer was named to the MLS Best XI, after notching 14 goals and seven assists in 22 matches. Two years later, Spencer was once again named to the MLS Best XI and was a finalist for the MLS MVP award after leading the Rapids in scoring with 14 goals and five assists. In total, Spencer appeared in 88 matches, registering 37 goals for the Rapids.

Upon retiring, Spencer joined the Dynamo as an assistant coach and served the club from 2006 to 2010. During his time with the Dynamo, Spencer won consecutive MLS Cup championships in 2006 and 2007. Following the 2010 season, he was selected as the Timbers’ first ever head coach. Spencer finished with a record of 14-19-12 with the Timbers before being dismissed midway through the 2012 season.

“John is a winner, that is why I wanted him as part of my coaching staff,” Mastroeni said in the team statement. “He’ll bring determination, steel and a striker’s eye to our preparations for the new season. It was also crucial to have someone who loves the club as much as I do. With John’s influence, and the other changes we’re making, I believe we’ll be a very different team in 2016."

In 2009, Spencer became the fourth player in Rapids history to be inducted into the Gallery of Honor. 

He began his professional career in 1987 with Scottish side Glasgow Rangers, appearing in 12 matches, while adding three goals. His résumé also includes 103 appearances and 36 goals for Premier League side Chelsea, as well as stints with Queens Park Rangers, Everton and Motherwell.

Spencer also earned 14 caps for the Scotland national team.