Only steady as player, Dawkins rises to All-Star status as coach


Trevor Dawkins never made it as a player.

"Never thought I would," he says candidly. "I got to the point where I was a steady player and I was just very pleased to be playing the game."

Trevor Dawkins never made the Major Soccer League All-Star Game. But Thursday, he'll be the first former MSL starter to coach in it.

The 46-year-old Englishman will coach the East against fellow countryman and West coach Ron Newman, who has coached in six previous All-Star games, winning four of them.

"It's nice to be the first of anything," says Dawkins, coach of the Cleveland Crunch. "I'm glad to be here."

When Dawkins was growing up in England, indoor soccer wasn't even a dream in commissioner Earl Foreman's head. Soccer, the outdoor version, was Dawkins' game. He played 10 years for West Ham United and Crystal Palace in the English First Division, before eventually migrating to the West Coast of the United States.

In 1980, then-Cleveland Force coach Eddie McCreadie asked him to play indoors, opening a new world.

"I know my first thoughts were that the game was a bit strange," Dawkins says. "Eddie told me players played for two minutes and then came off the field. Outdoors, we started and finished the game."

When the season started, Dawkins reassessed McCreadie's two-minute shifts.

"After the first game, I thought Eddie was way off," Dawkins recalls, smiling. "The shifts should have been one-and-a-half minutes, not two. Outdoor fitness didn't translate to the indoor game. Two minutes seemed like a very long time. I thought I was a decent player, but the physical side wasn't there until six weeks into the season."

It may have been a rugged start, but Dawkins played four strong seasons (1980-1984), a period of classic battles between Cleveland and Baltimore for the Eastern Division crown.

Thursday's All-Star Game at the Baltimore Arena will pit a veteran powerhouse in the West against Dawkins' young East squad.

"I think this should be one of the better All-Star games," Dawkins says. "There is a lot of speed for the transition game and with the smaller Baltimore Arena, I think it could be very high-scoring. I think it's going to be fun."

* REYNOLDS MVP: Mike Reynolds, the much respected Blast defender who died last summer, will be remembered Thursday night, and at every All-Star Game to come.

The Mike Reynolds Trophy will be awarded to the most valuable player in the annual USAir College Indoor Soccer Showcase. Gordon Bradley, who coached Reynolds at George Washington University, will present the trophy at halftime of the MSL All-Star Game, which follows the college game.

* TELEVISION FIRST: TV viewers are going to find out what the coaches in the MSL really sound like, when SportsChannel America debuts the latest TV innovation at the Arena Thursday.

The MSL will outfit West coach Newman and East assistant coach Billy Phillips of Dallas with earpieces and microphones. Game producer Jim Marooney says it's a first.

The coaches will be able to hear announcers John Paul Dellacamera and Ty Keough -- and each other.

"It's a gimmick," Marooney said. "I wouldn't deny it's a gimmick. We wouldn't use this in a competitive situation. It's fun. We're trying to make the game more familiar to the fan, to personalize it."

* ALL-STARS UPDATE: Tacoma goalkeeper Mike Dowler is expected to replace West All-Star keeper Kris Peat (strained tendon in left arm). The good news for Peat is he could be back within four weeks instead of six.

Wichita's Dale Ervine (tendinitis in his left knee) received clearance to play for the East team yesterday, but Dallas defenders Wes McLeod (strained calf muscle) and Troy Snyder (deep shin bruise) are questionable.

* WEEK'S BEST: Dallas forward Jan Goossens earned MSL Offensive Player of the Week honors with an eight-goal, three-assist performance in four games, including the game-winner in a 7-6 overtime win Wednesday against St. Louis.

San Diego goalkeeper Victor Nogueira (17-6) is the defensive star. He faced 72 shots, made 32 saves and allowed 11 goals for a 3.61 goals-against average. It was Nogueira's 37th straight game, dating to last season.

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