CEDAR RAPIDS — Even without a coach, the season rolls on for the Cedar Rapids Rampage.
The third-year Major Arena Soccer League team has yet to name a replacement after firing Jonathan Greenfield seven games into the current campaign over disagreements with the direction of the organization and personnel decisions.
“I don’t want to go and find someone that I am going to be in the same predicament in a month,” said General Manager Chris Kokalis, who will serve as the interim coach when the Rampage (5-4) host the St. Louis Ambush (1-8) Friday at 7:35 p.m. at the U.S. Cellular Center. “Not trying to underestimate the importance of having someone here, but I want to make sure it’s the right person. We’ve got a group of guys that’s very self-sufficient. These are guys who know what’s expected of them on the field.”
St. Louis — coached by former Rampage player-coach Hewerton Moreira — earned its first victory Sunday in an overtime tussle with Cedar Rapids. The loss broke a five-game winning streak for the Rampage.
“The loss in St. Louis was a little bit of a wake-up call,” Kokalis said. “The guys know what we need to do.”
Kokalis has identified three unnamed candidates with some combination of playing or coaching experience in the indoor game. All three are currently affiliated with youth soccer clubs, so a schedule fit is required in addition to a philosophical one.
“What I am looking for is someone with balance,” Kokalis said. “Someone who knows what it takes to win, someone who can develop talent.”
In the meantime, the team is leaning heavily on leadership from team captain Gordy Gurson and co-captains Joshio Sandoval and Victor France.
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With no player above the age of 30 on the roster, the club is missing that older, veteran presence that has been so crucial since the introduction of the franchise.
“It’s definitely a bigger challenge for everybody on the team,” Gurson said. “There’s a lot of younger guys and we lost our veteran brains that we had on the team. It can show that we need that. We miss that, for sure, but we’re moving on and we’re trying to stay positive.”
The Rampage have yet to lose at home this season (4-0) and are two games ahead of Kansas City (2-5) for the second playoff spot in the Central Division. Division leader Milwaukee remains unbeaten (8-0).
“We, just as professionals, need to keep coming here and keep representing the city and the badge on our chest and we’re still grateful for the opportunity to do that,” Gurson said. “There’s no complaints from us.”
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