SBD/November 14, 2012/Franchises

MLS Timbers Owner Merritt Paulson Admits Mistakes During Difficult '12 Season

Paulson in October was fined $25,000 after confronting referees
The MLS Timbers’ “trying year caused a somewhat humbled” Owner Merritt Paulson “to re-examine himself and his role as he looks toward 2013,” according to Geoffrey Arnold of the Portland OREGONIAN. Paulson said, "Did I handle it well? On the whole, I think I did, but I made some mistakes.” Arnold wrote Paulson “knows he needs to harness his emotions in public, be more guarded in his expectations and realize that the road from expansion team to playoff berth can be bumpy.” Paulson: "I'm probably too public. As an owner, I'm more part of this franchise's face than a lot of other owners around the league. But that's not necessarily a good thing or the long-term vision." Arnold wrote the "pressure to perform" started in October ‘11 when Paulson “placed himself and the team on an island by saying he expected the Timbers to earn a playoff berth in 2012.” The Timbers “never contended for the postseason, and their on-field struggles left a voracious fan base with a profound letdown and led to off-field challenges for Paulson.” He also has been “a vocal critic of officiating" in MLS. His criticism “reached a boiling point after the Timbers' 1-1 home draw against D.C. United on Sept. 29.” After the game, he “engaged in a heated verbal exchange with the referees,” leading days later to a $25,000 fine from MLS. Paulson then "vented on Twitter." Although Paulson “sometimes allows his emotions to get the best of him,” he has made “some subtle changes, though, including cutting back on social media and his accessibility with the fans.” Paulson: "I have certain regrets there, too. It's forced changed behavior on my part. We pride ourselves on being accessible, but that's just something that I think has a lot more downside than upside” (Portland OREGONIAN, 11/13).
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