Spirit may announce trade or Cooper's status today


The Spirit will hold a news conference today to make a "major announcement," but not, the club said, to name a new coach.

Owner Bill Stealey declined to comment specifically, saying only that "the picture will become clearer" today.

Here's one speculative scenario:

If president and general manager Kenny Cooper resigns, that could clear the way for Stealey to bring in ex-Blast goalie Keith Van Eron as a general manager or head coach and Tim Wittman as his assistant.

In Stealey's three-month search for a coaching successor to Cooper, Van Eron, a friend of the owner's, has been the front-runner. In Van Eron's playing days, Van Eron and Cooper sometimes clashed, creating tension that apparently still exists. Cooper's choice as his successor is his assistant, Mike Stankovic.

The Spirit has been working for weeks on a trade that would send Clark Brisson and/or Rob Ukrop to the Dayton Dynamo for Kevin Sloan, an Oakland Mills High grad who later played for Catawba College.

Sloan, a 28-year-old midfielder, was Dayton's No. 4 scorer last season with 90 points. Brisson was tied for third in Spirit scoring with 73 points and Ukrop, a rookie, had 30.

Sloan, who played for the Blast and the Baltimore Bays, is in town serving as an instructor at Spirit camps for youngsters.

Cooper's two-year contract with the Spirit extends through this month. He has said often that "my ultimate goal is to be involved in ownership." He said it again last week, but when asked if a deal was imminent, he said to "ask Bill. He should be the one to comment on it."

Stealey declined to and Cooper uncharacteristically didn't return phone calls yesterday.

Stealey has been searching for a successor to Cooper since he stepped down as coach the night the season ended. Stealey has acknowledged that four of the candidates are Stankovic, Van Eron, UMBC coach Pete Caringi and Dallas Sidekicks assistant Billy Phillips.

There is a fifth candidate he won't identify, Stealey said. Fernando Clavijo, 37, a defender on the U.S. national team, has expressed interest. Brian Quinn, 34, formerly of the San Diego Sockers and one of the national team's final cuts, was believed to be a candidate, but said this week neither Stealey nor Cooper "has talked to me about it."

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