MLS: Kansas City coach Ron Newman steps down

Ron Newman, who was the first coach signed by a Major League Soccer team, stepped down from his coaching duties today, April 14,, effective immediately. Newman, who along with Dallas Burn Coach Dave Dir were the last two original coaches from the inception of MLS, leaves as the winningest head coach in American professional soccer history and as a member of the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame. He was announced as the head coach on October 11, 1995 and finished with a 52-55 all-time Wizards record, including the post-season. "In the best interest of the club, I believe the time has come for me to step down," Ron Newman said. "The players and coaching staff have worked tirelessly to turn our fortunes around. Pressure to win builds until performance suffers. Unfortunately, the release valve is often a change in the top. The problem was never the coaching staff or the quality of the players. This last year has been the most difficult, but the first two years were the most enjoyable, and I thank the Hunt family for having the confidence in me to make me the first coach ever signed in the MLS." After finishing the 1996 season at 17-15, and enduring a tough loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy in the Western Conference Finals, and having a league-best 21-11 record in 1997, the Kansas City Wizards have not lived up to expectations since the first-round sweep by the Colorado Rapids in the 1997 playoffs. Last season, the team suffered through a 12-20 season (2-14 on the road), and finished in last place. After a successful offseason, involving the acquisitions of Alexi Lalas, Tony Meola and Chris Henderson, the Wizards have opened the 1999 campaign by losing their first four games, and being outscored nine to one. General Manager Doug Newman and Investor-Operator Clark Hunt have named Ken Fogarty as interim head coach, until a replacement is hired. The search for a head coach will begin immediately. Fogarty, who joined the Wizards on February 14, 1999, previously was head coach of the Cayman Island national team, from 1993-1994 and again from 1996-1998. Fogarty, 44, is from Manchester, England, but is a naturalized United States citizen. He played soccer professionally from 1972 to 1992, before beginning his coaching career. "I want to thank Ron (Newman) for his commitment to the sport, this team and Kansas City," Clark Hunt said. "His many career achievements speak for themselves, but now we must move in a different direction. We have fine talent on our team, and still believe we can make a run for the playoffs this season." The Wizards have a tough stretch of games ahead, including Colorado and Miami on the road, and a homestand which includes Columbus, Los Angeles and D.C. United. "We have an excellent group of both experienced and young players who I am sure will find their winning ways once again," Doug Newman said. "It's just a matter of them building some confidence and making a commitment to one another in order for us to turn our season around." Ron Newman's MLS Record
Year Team Regular Season Playoffs
1996 Kansas City 17-15 2-3
1997 Kansas City 21-11 0-2
1998 Kansas City 12-20 --
1999 Kansas City 0-4 --
TOTAL 50-50 2-5
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