Which makes it all the more surprising that the woman who devised that success announced today that she is stepping down.
Coach Cindy Parlow Cone was not only a title-winning coach, she was a standout player for the US women’s national team, winning two Olympic gold medals and a World Cup title and scoring 75 goals in more than 150 appearances for the Stars and Stripes.
Cone said in a statement released on the Timbers’ website that she was stepping down for family reasons:
Coaching the Thorns has been one of the highlights of my career. However, due to the scheduling conflicts created by the job, I realized that despite being a great move for my career, it was less than ideal for the health of my marriage - which is the most important thing in my life.
Her husband is Timbers fitness coach John Cone. The Timbers did not return WW’s calls today asking whether or not Cone will continue in that capacity.
The Timbers’ fitness seemed to improve following John Cone’s appointment: In the 2012 season, before Portland hired him, the Timbers conceded 12 goals in the last ten minutes of matches, scoring just once. In 2013, the Timbers' scoring record in the last 10 minutes got much better: 11 for, four against.
Thorns and Timbers owner Merritt Paulson tweeted that the team would announce a new coach next week.