Spirit owner Bill Stealey is expected to offer a two-year contract within a few days to one of the four remaining candidates for the team's coaching job.
He declined to identify the candidate, but it is believed Dallas Sidekicks assistant Billy Phillips is his first choice, followed by UMBC coach Pete Caringi and ex-Blast goalie Keith Van Eron. Spirit assistant Mike Stankovic is the fourth candidate.
"Each has his strengths," Stealey said. "Billy is unknown to this community, but he has the credentials. Keith is local, knows the indoor game and is a motivator. Pete has won everywhere he's been. He hasn't coached the indoor game, but he has a great local following and probably would bring an extra 500 to 1,000 fans to each game. Mike was an offensive-type player and would bring that philosophy to a team."
Phillips' club, Dallas, will be at USAir Arena tomorrow night for a Continental Indoor Soccer League game against the Warthogs. Spirit officials will confer with him then.
"I'm honored to be a candidate," Phillips said. "I'll listen to what the Spirit people say, although I have a very good arrangement here in Dallas."
Phillips, 37, a Bethpage, N.Y., native, has been with Dallas for 15 years, originally sharing the team's goalkeeping job with Kenny Cooper. Cooper first contacted Phillips about the Spirit job.
"I'd like to be introducing a new coach next week," Stealey said. "Two weeks from now at the latest."
Stealey said that Cooper, who resigned as coach three months ago, and as president and general manager yesterday, was good at preparing a team for the early part of a season. What galled Stealey was that after winning the National Professional Soccer League's American Division title two straight years, the Spirit lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Harrisburg Heat each time.
"I'd like our new coach to change that emphasis and have the team peak at playoff time," Stealey said.