Kenny Cooper, as one of his players said, is Mr. Soccer in Baltimore. Fans will miss the intense coach on the sidelines. He stepped down from 14 exciting years coaching the Baltimore Spirit and its predecessor team, the Blast, in indoor soccer here.
Mr. Cooper, staying on in front-office management, may be more visible than ever in the community, still fanatically dedicated to getting youngsters to play and watch the game. Soccer can only grow here. It has gone a long way toward replacing football as the autumn participant sport of Baltimore and American youth. The pure -- outdoor -- game has not caught on yet as a national spectator sport, while the indoor game partially has.
But the world's eyes will be on U.S. stadiums this summer when the quadrennial World Cup is fought out. That, and the maturing of millions of American participants to spectating age, has to boost the sport as something to watch. And Baltimore will still need its Mr. Soccer.