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John Spencer Goal Explosion! (Not so Fast)

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With the long-anticipated and much-rumored signing of John Spencer as an assistant in Pablo Mastroeni's coaching staff, can Rapids fans expect an explosion of goals next year?

Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

If you didn't hear it yet, here it be:

A few fans have talked to me about this potential move already and asked if I were excited. I'm not, really. And it's not because I don't like Jon Spencer the Rapids player, nor because I don't respect what he accomplished in his time with the club.

It's because I don't know what Jon Spencer the coach adds except more predicament to our current predicament.

Here's an in-depth primer on what happened with Jon Spencer's tenure in Portland.

Here's the part that I was most interested in:

The Timbers predictably dominated all facets of the game and outshot their overmatched opponents 43-11, but Boyd skied a penalty kick into the seats above the goal in the 80th minute.

I want you to think about that, and who that sounds like. Why, yes, that does sound an awful lot like the Colorado Rapids! And it does!

Now the Rapids said in the off-season, both in 2014 and 2015, that they wanted an "offensive coordinator"

Tim Hinchey in 2014:

We're looking to bring in another person who will be another person on Paul's staff who will also have some on-field responsibilities. For lack of a better term, if I were to use the terminology of the National Football League, I would call it an "Offensive Coordinator."

And in 2015, with the announcement that Pablo Mastroeni would be coming back as coach for 2016 as well.

With the first announcement, we then got Claudio Lopez. With the second announcement, we get John Spencer. Seems like that is the logic. The problem with the John Spencer hire (qua an "offensive coordinator" hire) is that John Spencer the coach is very different than John Spencer the player. John Spencer the player was a tough, feisty forward who ripped up defenses and scored a lot of goals.

Which is probably what led Paul Bravo to praise the hire:

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...

Pablo Mastroeni was similarly pleased:

He’ll bring determination, steel and a striker’s eye to our preparations for the new season.

But all that praise is based on John Spencer the striker.

John Spencer the coach, while still feisty and tough, played a decidedly defensive style of soccer.

The Portland Timbers, in their first year under Spencer, scored only 40 goals. That's only 7 more goals than the 2015 Rapids scored, and 2 fewer than the 2014 Rapids scored. In 2012, though only a partial year, Spencer did not fare much better. They only scored 34 goals. That's only 1 goal more than the 2015 Colorado Rapids. For comparison, the New York Red Bulls scored 62 goals in their Shield winning 2015 campaign.

However, where Spencer stands out a bit better is in defense. In 2011, his first year, the Timbers back line only conceded 38 goals. That's in the low middle of the pack. The Timbers under Spencer were also fairly frequent shot takers, with 432 shots. 142 of them on goal. The Rapids 2015, by comparison? 417 and 127... wait a minute.

Are these guys almost the exact same team?

The Rapids Rabbi had a write-up of some of the problems of the Colorado Rapids early in 2015. The scoring woes did not get much better. They got a little better (thanks to the injection of Kevin Doyle into the lineup) but nowhere near good enough to compete in the league for even the bottom playoff spot. The problem was: Rapids were taking shots, but not scoring goals! How can that happen?

If you dissect both teams, you find a similar build: both feisty, gritty defensive units. Offense was based either on the actions of lone-forwards or on touchline-hugging wing play and a cross into the box.

How exactly is John Spencer, the coach, going to change the offensive game when his Portland Timber teams of 2011 and 2012 played almost the same way the Colorado Rapids do right now?

Where Spencer's stats as coach stick out the most positively is that he created teams that were tough, gritty, feisty and tough to break down. Pablo Mastroeni? Same thing. Tough. Gritty. Battlers. If Rapids fans were hoping that this hire would drastically change the football at DSG Park, or bring an end to the reign of the "Mastronaccio," they will have to wait yet another year.