Blast, Kelly close to coaching deal

He'd shed interim tag and playing career

Pro Soccer

May 17, 2006|By JEFF SEIDEL | JEFF SEIDEL,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The Blast is closing in on a deal to make interim coach Danny Kelly the team's permanent coach, a move that could be announced as early as today.

General manager Kevin Healey said he and Kelly have been talking since the season ended with the Blast winning its third Major Indoor Soccer League championship in four years. Kelly also has met with owner Ed Hale, and it's now down to finalizing some details.

Healey said the deal is nearly done and could be announced officially later today if everything works out.

"When we announced Danny as the interim coach, we believed he was an outstanding candidate to lead our team," Healey said. "He's been the only candidate we looked at, and we're looking to finalize the deal shortly."

Healey also said that this deal will make Kelly a full-time coach, effectively ending his playing career. Kelly, 37, has been one of the league's top players for several years, making the All-Star Game this season and playing a big role in the Blast taking the championship.

Kelly served as player-interim coach for the final six weeks, taking over after the March 18 incident in California when then-coach Tim Wittman allegedly shoved one official and choked a penalty box attendant.

The MISL immediately suspended Wittman and then added two years to the penalty later on.

The Blast went 2-3 under Kelly in the final part of the regular season, but the team held out several players in the last two games hoping to get them back at full strength for the playoffs.

That strategy paid off well as the third-seeded Blast beat No. 2 seed Milwaukee in the semifinals on a "golden goal" from Machel Millwood. The Blast did the same thing in the championship round against top-seeded St. Louis, taking the title on another "golden goal" by Millwood.

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