MacWilliams lands on his feet as first guiding hand of Kixx Ex-Spirit coach brings East-leading team here

November 22, 1996|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,SUN STAFF

Dave MacWilliams' final words as the Spirit's coach were as much an indictment of himself as the team.

Frustrated and exasperated by the Spirit's unresponsiveness to his urgings, MacWilliams said: "I wasn't getting the response from the players that I would like to have seen."

With that, MacWilliams resigned. That was last January, after the Spirit had lost eight of 11 games and plunged from second to fourth place in the National Professional Soccer League's American Division.

Within a few months, the man who couldn't motivate one team got a job with another, the expansion Philadelphia Kixx, in his hometown. Soon after MacWilliams stepped down in Baltimore, Kixx owner Ed Tepper spoke to him about stepping up in Philadelphia.

"We'd love to have you," said Tepper, a former commissioner of the old Major Indoor Soccer League, who had known MacWilliams as a player.

Now Tepper has him. When the Kixx visits the Spirit tonight at the Baltimore Arena, it will be directed by MacWilliams.

MacWilliams said he wasn't at all reluctant to return to coaching after the deflating experience with the Spirit.

"It's in the past and I grew from it," MacWilliams said.

"It was a great opportunity to get back on the horse and ride after getting knocked off."

And ride MacWilliams has. The Kixx has bolted from the gate, leading the East Division with a 5-1 record. Its only loss was to the St. Louis Ambush, 14-12, after falling behind 10-0.

The building of the Kixx began with the selection of Christian Penny (Lock Haven) and Doug Nevins (Villanova) in the college draft. The NPSL expansion draft brought Jim McGeough, Scott Henderson, Brian Thiel, Larry Julius, Tony Bono, Chris Handsor and ex-Spirit Omid Namazi.

The Kixx traded for Don D'Ambra, Joey Murtagh and Scott Lawler. Clark Brisson, John McIntyre, Pete Pappas and Gary Ross were signed as free agents. (Murtagh, Brisson and Ross also played briefly in Baltimore.) Pete Vermes arrived on loan from the New York-New Jersey MetroStars.

Spirit tonight

Opponent: Philadelphia Kixx

Site: Baltimore Arena

Time: 7: 35 Radio: Updates after each quarter on WWLG (1360 AM)

Outlook: The Spirit (3-3) is third in the NPSL's East Division, two rungs below the expansion Kixx (5-1). Barry Stitz is probable after missing four games with a sprained ankle. Branko Segota, Mike Henning and Ronnie Simmons, all with knee injuries, are out. Cris Vaccaro will start his second straight game in goal since returning from a fractured big toe. Rookie Pete Pappas (5-1) is Philadelphia's goalie.

Pub Date: 11/22/96

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