Gee fired as Mania coach 4 days after 1st game

Assistant Stara is granted leave to be with ailing father

May 04, 1999|By Lowell E. Sunderland | Lowell E. Sunderland,SUN STAFF

Darryl Gee, the first Columbia-produced player to be successful in pro soccer, was fired yesterday as coach of the Maryland Mania, four days after the new A-League team lost its first game.

A. J. Ali, the Columbia-based Mania president, described Gee's departure as "amicable probably best for both sides." The cause, he said, "boiled down to administrative differences."

Ali declined to elaborate, other than to acknowledge the dismissal was for a combination of factors on and off the field, among them lack of preparation of the team to play at the A-League level in preseason scrimmages.

Gee, 37, would say only that "there were some philosophical differences, and we couldn't straighten them out. Through my business, I'm still going to be part of soccer, though. This kind of thing happens. I wish the organization well."

The former Oakland Mills standout signed with the defunct North American Soccer League's New York Cosmos out of high school and built a pro playing career that lasted 14 years. He operates a youth-soccer business in Rockville that involves players and organizational clients in Maryland and Northern Virginia. Though holder of an A coaching license, the highest level attainable, Gee was coaching his first pro team.

A new head coach for the Mania -- one with A-League experience -- is expected to be named today, Ali said. "We need someone with savvy and experience at this level," he said.

Gee's dismissal temporarily leaves Mania players with neither of the coaches who selected them during tryouts that included more than 300 players.

Ali said that Mania assistant coach Bill Stara, the highly successful high school boys soccer coach at Centennial and now River Hill, has been granted a leave of absence to help care for his ailing father.

But Stara, a former pro goalkeeper, is expected to eventually resume his Mania job, Ali said.

"Bill has been the one to bring a high tactical level to the team," said Ali.

Until the new coach takes over, Ali said, Bill Moraveck, the Mania's player-development director, will conduct practices as players near the Mania's second game and home opener at 4 p.m. Sunday at UMBC Stadium against the Charleston (S.C.) Battery. Moraveck also will become an assistant coach.

The Mania, which scrimmaged four area college teams and one semipro team in preseason, lost the franchise's first league game Thursday night to the Raleigh Capital Express, 2-0, on a 44-degree, rainy and windy night in North Carolina.

The next Mania coach will be the franchise's third. The first the team announced, ex-English pro star Justin Fashanu, hanged himself in his native London last May while being sought by Howard County police on allegations involving a teen-age boy, sex and drugs.

Pub Date: 5/04/99

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