Former Inter Miami coach Phil Neville will be named coach of the Portland Timbers in the coming days, a source close to the negotiations confirmed.
Neville, who was let go by Inter Miami on June 1 and replaced by Tata Martino, is finalizing the details of a contract with Portland. An announcement is expected early next week. The Athletic reported that the two sides were in advanced talks early Friday afternoon.
Neville’s record was 31-41-11 over two-and-a-half seasons with Miami and in 2022 he led the team to a sixth-place finish in the Eastern Conference and a playoff berth. He was fired one week before Lionel Messi announced he was headed to Inter Miami.
At the time, the team, which suffered injuries to key players early in the season, had lost four league games in a row and dropped to last place in the East with a 5-10-0 record.
The season started off on a high with a pair of wins against Montreal and Philadelphia, two of the best teams in the league last season. But a six-game losing streak followed. Miami rebounded and won three league games in a row, including a victory over then-first-place New England. The team also had advanced to the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals.
But the four-game slide led to criticism of Neville by some fans, and pressure was mounting on owners Jorge and Jose Mas and David Beckham, who was Neville’s teammate at Manchester United and with the England national team. It seemed a foregone conclusion that if the team landed Messi, there would be a coaching change.
At the time of Neville’s firing, Inter Miami sporting director Chris Henderson said: “This was a difficult decision but one we feel is the best for the Club at this moment. Phil and I started together in 2021 and since then I saw firsthand the hard work, strong foundation and culture he has helped instill at Inter Miami. We are thankful for his and Jason’s contributions, highlighted by the empowerment of the Club’s next generation of homegrown talents, and wish them nothing but the best in the future.”
Portland fired long-time coach Gio Savarese on Aug. 21 after a 5-0 loss to the Houston Dynamo. The loss dropped the Timbers to 6-8-10 and 12th place in the Western Conference. Miles Joseph was named interim coach. Under Joseph, the Timbers went 5-2-2 and nearly made the playoffs, finishing one point short.