The Spirit has trimmed two and added one, leaving three candidates for its coaching job.
Dave MacWilliams, a Blast forward from 1982 to 1987, is the latest, joining Billy Phillips, an assistant with the Dallas Sidekicks of the Continental Indoor Soccer League, and UMBC coach Pete Caringi.
Ex-Blast goalie Keith Van Eron and Spirit assistant Mike Stankovic are "no longer candidates," said Spirit vice president Drew Forrester, because they lack head coaching experience at the college or pro level, one of owner Bill Stealey's criteria.
Van Eron is a partner in Keith Van Eron Sporting Goods in Cockeysville, coaches youth teams and conducts camps. Stankovic, who has a lucrative business operating summer camps for 1,200 youngsters, will be offered a yet-to-be-determined position in the organization on a seasonal basis, but probably not as the assistant.
Van Eron and Stankovic expressed disappointment over being dropped from consideration.
"I felt I would have brought as much if not more to the job as the others," Van Eron said. "It's the club's loss."
Said Stankovic: "I know I'm ready to be a head coach. I don't think I want to be an assistant coach."
MacWilliams, 37, coached the Penn-Jersey Spirit in the summer American Professional Soccer League for two seasons starting in 1989. He coaches youth and semipro men's indoor teams in his native Philadelphia, and plays on occasion.
In nine seasons in the now-defunct Major Soccer League, including five with the Blast, MacWilliams had 225 goals and 182 assists.
Stealey has interviewed MacWilliams, Phillips and Caringi, and will continue "to weigh their positives" this week, Forrester said.
"MacWilliams meets the criteria that Bill wants," Forrester said. "He was an offensive-minded player, he has head coaching experience and would commit to the job year-round. Billy, Pete and David all want the job, and Bill is comfortable with any of the three."
Stealey considers the job full-time because the Spirit has programs in which the coach must be involved, including summer camps, an outdoor team that will play as many as 12 games next summer and a reserve (farm) team this indoor season.
Caringi and Phillips have concerns and considerations about taking the job. Caringi, for example, would be leaving the security of UMBC, where in three years he has twice tied the school record of 15 wins, for probably no more than a two-year Spirit contract.
Phillips has roots in Dallas and has all but been promised the general manager's and/or coach's job when Gordon Jago retires. In 1989-90, when Jago was in a Sidekicks marketing job, Phillips moved up from assistant and was acclaimed Major Soccer League Coach of the Year based on his 31-21 record. Jago returned as coach in 1991.
Yet Baltimore has a certain allure for Phillips and his wife, Kelly. She is from Severna Park, where her parents still live.