Nik Wald (left)
Nik Wald (left) Cathy Cheny/Portland Business Journal

That's right, everyone. The Timbers' two-month slide down the Western Conference standings is the fault of the now-former head trainer Nik Wald.

The Oregonian's Jamie Goldberg reported Monday that Wald, who has been with the team since 2007, is out. The change comes on the heels of the news that captain and center back Liam Ridgewell has re-injured his quad and will be out a further six to eight weeks. The Timbers, along with most every other team, have struggled with injuries all year.

The official line is that Wald, who served under three different head coaches in Portland, resigned. Current T2 Head Athletic Trainer Taichi Kitagawa will join the first team's medical staff.

It's worth mentioning here that Wald didn't seem to have all that much power individualized power in his position. The Timbers use analytics and sports science extensively to determine training, fitness, and recovery regiments for individual players and the team as a whole.

Wald was involved in that process, but so were a number of other professionals from inside and outside of the organization — all, of course, reporting to Porter.

Have the Timbers been less able than other clubs to keep their players on the field over the grind of a 34-game eight-month slog of a season? If so, is that on the training staff? Those are difficult questions to answer, and there's plenty we don't know about the process surrounding Wald's departure.

Maybe Wald really wasn't great at his job. But dismissing him now, after a decade, in the middle of a losing run, because Liam Ridgewell's body — after fifteen seasons of professional soccer — is falling apart? That's a very, very questionable move. At a minimum, it's a terrible look.

Here's the bottom line: When one person gets fired, everyone else's job is less secure. And once you start firing people, as the Timbers have now done, the road to firing more people — people higher up the chain of command — is shortened immeasurably.

Porter said today that "every person is responsible for their department." True enough, and since the buck stops with Porter, if he felt that he needed to improve his staff, then fair enough. After all, the overall success of the team on the field is his department. The buck stops with him.

But now Porter has singled out a member of his team — the longtime trainer, of all people — as the weak link. If he's right, and there are fewer injuries, or if he's not, and the team starts winning again, fine. But if the team continues to play poorly, there should be consequences for him. Gavin Wilkinson, too.

This wasn't an insignificant move — not in its tangible impact, and certainly not in its suggestive impact. The Timbers haven't fired a major member of their staff since John Spencer was ousted as manager in the summer of 2012.

Outside of goalkeeping coach Mike Toshack leaving midway through the 2015 season to take a job as the head coach of division three St. Lawrence in upstate New York, a major member of the staff hasn't departed the club since Porter has been in charge.

"When you get guys injured, like we have, and when you get re-injuries, there has to be some accountability as well and you have to look at things," Porter said today in his press conference ahead of the Timbers' game against the Chicago Fire on Wednesday.

It sure sounds like Wald is taking the blame for players getting hurt, which, again, is extremely questionable — and if he's been made to take the blame for the team's recent struggles, that's simply farcical. Wald doesn't play center back or take penalties. He doesn't scout, recruit, or develop talent.

A year-and-a-half ago, the Timbers won MLS Cup with Wald leading the training staff. Now, Wald is gone. For the first time this year, it feels like the Timbers are venturing down a very precarious path.