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A-League: Ercoli out as coach


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Rhinos make it official: Ercoli out as coach

Jeff DiVeronica

Staff writer

(November 19, 2004) — Sixteen days after canceling a news conference to announce they would have a new coach next season, the Rochester Rhinos made it official on Thursday.

Coach Pat Ercoli has been "terminated" by the soccer team and has declined an offer to become the club's assistant general manager, Rhinos vice president/general manager Chris Economides said. The team planned to reveal its new direction on Nov. 2, but when Ercoli backed out of attending the announcement, the news conference was canceled.

The team said, at the time, Ercoli was deciding if he wanted to take the assistant GM job. But at issue was the time left on Ercoli's contract. Both sides declined to comment further.

"There's a lot of mixed emotions, but with all the things on our horizon, we're excited to move forward," Economides said.

The Rhinos offered Ercoli, their only coach in their nine-year history, a chance to remain with the team "out of loyalty, out of what we had accomplished together," Economides said.

Ercoli declined any comment, referring questions to his lawyer, Michael Townsend. Townsend did not return a phone message.

Ercoli's ouster ends the longest coaching reign in Rochester professional sports history. A former player for the Rochester Lancers (1978-80), his Rhinos teams won four championships in his first six years. His career record was 154-77-18, but skeptics thought that despite making the playoffs Rochester underachieved the past three seasons.

"We felt Pat had many attributes that could continue to help the organization, but we didn't feel we wanted him to continue coaching," team CEO Steve Donner said, declining to provide specific reasons.

Economides said the team hopes to name a new coach before Jan. 1. The team already has interviewed former Rhinos captain and Syracuse Salty Dogs GM Tommy Tanner and Laurie Calloway, a former MLS coach who guided Syracuse to a third-place finish in the A-League last year.

Syracuse folded last month, but Tanner is trying to re-launch the franchise. He probably has too many other commitments in that area to be Rochester's coach, but Economides didn't rule out "an assistant's job or another role in the organization."

The interview with Calloway went well, Donner said.

"He knows the league. He knows our roster, players we may sign from Syracuse and how to put a competitive team on the field," Donner said.

Another name that has been mentioned is Webster native and former Olympian Brian Bliss, currently an assistant with Kansas City (MLS). "We have interest but haven't spoken to him," Donner said.


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