MSL coaches more likely to rent, not buy


Being a head coach in the Major Soccer League these days has to be one of the shakiest coaching positions in all of sports.

Nearly half of the league's eight coaches -- Cleveland Crunch's Kai Haaskivi, Dallas Sidekicks' Billy Phillips and Wichita Wings' Terry Nicholl -- have been fired in the past six weeks.

It all started Jan. 3, when Cleveland decided to remove Haaskivi as coach and put him on the floor as a full-time player.

That decision produced instant results for what was then a 7-15 last-place team in the Eastern Division. Cleveland has taken off under Trevor Dawkins, who was Haaskivi's assistant, and produced a 9-4 record to challenge the Baltimore Blast for second place in the East.

It all seemed so simple in Cleveland.

Maybe that's why the Sidekicks decided to can Phillips Jan. 28 when that team fell deeper into the Western Division basement with a 12-19 record.

But so far there has been no magic in Dallas under Gordon Jago, who has returned to coach after being the team president for two years.

Jago was 1-3 in his first four games.

However, Jago's slow start didn't prevent the Wichita Wings from firing Nicholl, the MSL's "Mr. Nice Guy," Feb. 4 shortly after Wichita replaced Cleveland at the bottom of the Eastern Division standings.

The Wings also went to the team president (Roy Turner) for their coach. Turner returned to the sidelines after being in the front office for 5 1/2 years.

Turner, like Jago, has basically been a flop in his early games (0-3).


When Blast coach Kenny Cooper guided the East All-Stars to a 9-8, overtime victory over coach Ron Newman and the West All-Stars Wednesday night in Kansas City, Mo., it was a breakthrough for Cooper.

Newman was 2-0 against Cooper in All-Star Games, and he and the San Diego Sockers are 4-0 against Cooper and the Blast in the MSL championship series.

Could it be an omen if Cooper meets Newman and the Sockers again for the championship this season?

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