MLS: Wegerle named Rapids interim coach

World Cup '94 and English Premier League veteran Roy Wegerle has been named interim coach of the Colorado Rapids, the team announced earlier this week.

Wegerle, 32, takes over for Bob Houghton, who resigned Tuesday in the wake of Colorado's failure to reach the MLS playoffs.

"Wegerle is one of the leaders of this team," said team president Bob Sanderman. "We felt that while we search for the best coach to lead our team next year, Roy can successfully lead our team into our U.S. Open Cup match (at Kansas City this weekend) and our final MLS match (Sept. 21 at D.C. United)."

Wegerle, who may also use himself as a player should he be deemed recovered from a nagging calf strain, will work with the Rapids' other veterans, including Steve Trittschuh, Chris Woods, Marcelo Balboa, and Ian Butterworth. Balboa and Butterworth, both of whom are injured, will serve as bench coaches if Wegerle plays.

"I gladly accept this challenge," said Wegerle. "The Rapids have some great talent, and with a new focus I believe we can still make something of this season. More importantly, the team can now have a new outlook for next season."

Colorado hopes to name a new coach early this fall.

In other Rapids news, GM Rich Levine was relieved of his duties on Thursday. Sanderman will assume GM duties until a replacement is found.

"Rich Levine was a very dedicated general manager with a great passion for the game of soccer, but we felt that we needed to change direction and move forward with ambitious plans for the 1997 season," said Sanderman, who hopes to name a new GM within the next month. "MLS is alive and growing in this country, and we are committed to continuing to bring world-class Denver. The Rapids have made Denver their permanent home, and I believe the community will be greatly impressed with the 1997 version of our team."

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