[MLS SPOTLIGHT] The coaches of only four of the eight expansion teams, since MLS's climb from 10 teams began in 2005, have lasted two-plus seasons. John Spencer became the latest casualty just 17 games into his second season as the Portland Timbers' head coach. Four of six of those clubs made the playoffs in
their first or second seasons and Real Salt Lake made the playoffs in its third season and won MLS Cup in its fourth. All isn't lost for the Timbers, though. They are only four points off the pace for
a playoff berth in 2012.
Chivas USA (2005).
First coach: Thomas Rongen won an MLS Cup with D.C. United in 1999 and had established himself as a successful MLS coach, but he only lasted 10 games with Chivas, leaving with a 1-8-1 record.
First playoff appearance: By its second season, Chivas made the MLS playoffs. Indeed, it made the playoffs all four seasons with Bob Bradley or Preki in charge. But it has not returned to the postseason in the last two seasons.
Real Salt Lake (2005).
First coach: U.S. under-17 national team coach John Ellinger was hired as RSL's first coach. He lasted two-plus seasons before exiting with a 15-37-16 record. He remained with RSL for two more months as technical director.
First playoff appearance: Ellinger's replacement, Jason Kreis, led RSL to the playoffs in 2008, his first full season in charge, and the MLS Cup title a year later. It has returned to the playoffs all four years under Kreis' direction and should make the postseason in 2012.
Toronto FC (2007).
First coach: Scotsman Mo Johnston, who had coached the New York Red Bulls, was hired at TFC's first head coach but left his post after one season with a 6-17-7 record. He remained with TFC's front office for most of the next three seasons.
First playoff appearance: Now in its sixth season, Toronto has still yet to make the playoffs. With a 2-11-4 record, it won't make the playoffs in 2012.
San Jose Earthquakes (2008).
First coach: Frank Yallop, who led the former Quakes to MLS titles in 2001 and 2003 and had a 41-25-18 record in his first three seasons, was named the head coach when Quakes returned in 2008. Yallop is still with the Quakes, having survived three sub-.500 seasons in four seasons. They currently have the best record in MLS.
First playoff appearance: The Quakes made the playoffs in their third season with a 13-10-7 record.
Seattle Sounders (2009).
First coach: Right after he led the Columbus Crew to the MLS Cup 2008 title, Sigi Schmid was hired as the Sounders head coach. He is now in his fourth season with the Sounders.
First playoff appearance: Schmid has led the Sounders to playoff appearances in each of their first three seasons -- not to mention three U.S. Open Cup titles.
Philadelphia Union (2010).
First coach: Peter Nowak, who had coached D.C. United to the MLS Cup 2004 championship and coached the USA at the 2008 Olympics, was hired for the Union's debut season in 2010. He was fired last month after the Union started the 2011 season with a 2-7-2 record.
First playoff appearance: The Union finished third in the Eastern Conference with a 11-8-15 record to make the playoffs in their second season.
Vancouver Whitecaps (2011).
First coach: Veteran Icelandic coach Teitur Thordarson was the coaching the Whitecaps' team in the USSF D-2 team when he was hired for their MLS debut in 2011. They were last in the Western Conference with a 1-5-6 record when he was fired after only three seasons.
First playoff appearance: The 'Caps have a 8-4-6 record and are currently in fourth place in the Western Conference and on course for a playoff bid. Their eight wins are two more than they earned in 2011.
Portland Timbers (2011).
First coach: Former Scotland international John Spencer had been the assistant coach at the Houston Dynamo for five seasons before being hired as the Timbers' first coach. The Timbers' success at home contributed to a total of 11 wins in 2011 and a sixth-place finish in the nine-team Western Conference. But they were only 5-8-4 at the halfway point of the 2012 season, leading to Spencer's ouster.
First playoff appearance: The Timbers missed making the playoffs by only four points in 2011, the same total they are off the pace this season.
Montreal Impact (2012).
First coach: Jesse Marsch was working as a U.S. national team assistant when he was hired for the Impact's inaugural campaign.
First playoff appearance: The Impact is currently 6-11-3 in eighth place and only four points off the pace for a playoff spot though the three teams ahead of it all have two or more games in hand.