The Tampa Bay Mutiny named John Kowalski as its new head coach, team GM Nick Sakiewicz announced today.
Kowalski, who is currently head coach of the U.S. national indoor team and Robert Morris College in Pennsylvania, succeeds Thomas Rongen, who will coach the New England Revolution in 1997.
"The list of coaching candidates was long and impressive," said Sakiewicz. "The calls actually started before Thomas announced his decision to leave.
"Quite frankly, John won the job during the interview. We spent about six hours together, and I came away knowing in my heart that this was the man to lead the Tampa Bay Mutiny. Not only did he display an extensive knowledge of the game and its players, but his commitment to the overall product as it pertains to sales, marketing, and community involvement was extraordinary."
Kowalski, 44, came to the U.S. from his native Poland in 1965 and played collegiately at the University of New Haven. His playing career included stints in the ASL (1973-76) and MISL (1978-80).
He spent six years as an assistant coach at New Haven before becoming a player-coach with the Cincinnati Kids and Pittsburgh Spirit of the MISL. He then served as head coach of the Hartford Hellions for a year before returning to the Spirit, where he coached until 1985.
Kowalski has been the coach of the national indoor team since its inception in 1986, and has led the U.S. to a third-place finish at the 1989 World Championships, and a runner-up finish in Hong Kong in 1992. He will again be leading the U.S. at the 1996 World Championship in Spain Nov. 24-Dec. 8.
Kowalski's impressive resume includes a four year tour at the helm of the U.S. national "B" team from 1988-91 and a three-game stint as interim head coach of the full U.S. national team in 1991. He also was an assistant under Bora Milutinovic that same year, and the head coach of the U-20 national team from 1993-94.
He has also had plenty of success at Robert Morris, where he has coached since 1989, winning four consecutive Northeast Conference championships from 1992-95 and earning two NCAA tournament appearances.
"I am very appreciative of the opportunity... to become the head coach of the Tampa Bay Mutiny," said Kowalski. "I am familiar with the Mutiny players and know that I inherit an outstanding team.... It is my goal to complete the unfinished business of 1996 and lead the franchise to the championship in MLS Cup '97."