Hewerton Moreira not returning as player-coach of Cedar Rapids Rampage

Franchise seeks third coach in three years before MASL season begins in October

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Well, that quickly turned in another direction.

Ten days after expressing excitement over the coming Major Arena Soccer League season as player-coach of the Cedar Rapids Rampage, Hewerton Moreira announced on Instagram that he would not be returning to the third-year franchise.

“It was a tough decision for me to take,” Moreira told The Gazette. “I think the Cedar Rapids Rampage and Rampage United grew a lot and I grew as a coach. I think we grew a little apart.”

Moreira’s contract expired July 31, and a proposal had been submitted for him to return for a second season as player-coach of the indoor team, where he directed the Rampage to a 12-win season and serious playoff contention.

Neither Moreira nor the club signed the contract, and ultimately agreed to part ways.

“There were some things that both sides needed to think about,” Cedar Rapids General Manager Chris Kokalis said. “We weren’t ready to make that commitment yet. We are grateful for everything he did over the past two seasons.”

Moreira, 37, collected 35 goals and 43 assists in two MASL seasons with the Rampage. After original Rampage Coach Jeff Kraft was dismissed following a five-win expansion season in 2015-16, Moreira was named indoor player-coach and coach of the Rampage United summer outdoor club. Both thrived. The Rampage United reached the Premier League of America championship tournament semifinals in both seasons, while the win total for the Rampage MASL squad improved from five to 12.

Team captain Gordy Gurson was in Salt Lake City, Utah, when he saw the Instagram post. Gurson was representing the U.S. National Indoor Soccer Team, coincidentally, against the Brazilian national team that included Moreira.

“I didn’t expect it coming at all,” Gurson said. “Honestly, I feel that no one is bigger than this team. Yes, we’re going to miss Hewerton, but I think we’re just going to keep on going.”

Moreira insisted he was satisfied with his financial compensation and the personnel decisions and support from management. He plans to play at least one more season before focusing exclusively on coaching.

“The ownership really helped the players to make them feel at home,” Moreira said. “Players are really comfortable playing for Cedar Rapids because of the support of the ownership, the community, the booster club and everybody else. I can’t point out one specific area why the decision was made.”

The third MASL season for the Rampage will begin at the end of October. The next coach will be the third in three years.

“We’ve got some options that we’re looking at,” Kokalis said. “We’re not going to rush into anything. … We want to make sure that whomever we bring in is a good fit. Don’t make any mistake about it. We have unfinished business from last year. We have built our roster with guys that can help us get to where we want to be.”

l Comments: douglas.miles@thegazette.com

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