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Newman Ruled Out as Coach Candidate : Soccer: Viewed as an 'indoor' coach, he is disappointed not to be considered.

February 24, 1991|JOHN GEIS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SAN DIEGO — Sockers Coach Ron Newman apparently has been passed over by the United States Soccer Federation as a successor to national team Coach Bob Gansler, who resigned Saturday.

Hank Steinbrecher, executive director of the United States Soccer Federation, refused to take calls Friday, but in comments published this week, he made clear Newman and others from this country will not be considered.

"If we make a change," Steinbrecher had said, "let's look for someone who is extremely experienced at the task we have at hand."

And that is preparing a team for the 1994 World Cup.

Steinbrecher left no doubt he has concentrated his search outside the country when he said Gansler, a native of Poland, "is the best American for the job."

"That's an outrageous statement to make," said Newman, who has led his team to eight indoor titles in the past nine years. "Bob has never passed the test. He has never coached professional players, and he was only a mediocre college coach (at Wisconsin-Milwaukee) before he took the job. To make that kind of statement is detrimental to the person who said it and detrimental to the game in this country."

Steinbrecher made the comment only a week after he bumped into Newman at the MSL All-Star Game in Kansas City and said: "I need to talk to you."

Newman said he replied, "Yeah, I think you do."

Also in Kansas City last week, USSF President Alan Rothenberg told Newman that every time his name came up, it was dismissed because Newman has not coached outdoor "for nine years."

Actually, Newman's last outdoor experience was with the 1984 Sockers, whom he guided to a 14-10 record and first place in the West division of the North American Soccer League. He was named Coach of the Year.

When the NASL folded only weeks later, Newman had compiled 232 NASL outdoor victories, by far the most of any coach.

"I know the outdoor game thoroughly," Newman said. "I don't look at the World Cup and wonder what's going on. Soccer is my life. I live and breathe it every minute of every hour of every day. It's all I talk about. I guess I'm probably quite a bore."

Steinbrecher already has interviewed four candidates for the job and apparently narrowed his choices to two, Yugoslav Bora Milutinovic and Thijs Libregts of the Netherlands. Kenny Dolglish, who resigned Friday as Liverpool's coach, also might be considered.

"It's very disappointing," Newman said. "They didn't even listen to me or seek my advice on what kind of person they should hire for the job. I could have been even more valuable for that. I've got lots of answers. If there is a bigger soccer expert in this country, I would like to meet him."

Newman said he became resigned to the fact that he will not be interviewed for the job on Saturday, after talking to a friend with ties to the USSF.

"He said FIFA would like the U.S. to go really big time, and big time would be to get a coach recognized on the international and World Cup level already," Newman said.

Still, Newman and his rival, fellow Englishman Kenny Cooper, coach of the Baltimore Blast, remain unsure that going abroad is the right thing to do.

"We're great competitors with each other," Cooper said. "We want to beat each other real badly, but we also want what's best for soccer. And if (the USSF) is going to make a change, why not go with Ron Newman? He's paid his dues and dedicated himself to America. He stayed here, raised his family here, he coached against some of the best coaches in the world back in the NASL and he was successful. I think it is something he deserves.

"We all want the same thing. . . . If the game doesn't make it here, well, we'll die real sad people."

MSL Notes

Ron Newman is apparently considered the top indoor soccer expert this country has to offer. As such, he spent Monday through Thursday in Mexico City as the guest of the FNFR. That translates loosely to the National Federation of Speed Soccer, which is trying to establish an indoor league through a grass-roots effort.

While training coaches and consulting on how the game should be played, Newman said he challenged Club America, Mexico's top soccer team, to play the Sockers in both an indoor and outdoor exhibition. He has not heard a response.

Bernie Mullin, the former Pittsburgh Pirate executive who is trying to get Pittsburgh back into the MSL, said he is optimistic about a single investor coming aboard in the next couple of weeks. He had previously been putting together a group of owners.

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