Bliss interested in Rapids vacancy

Kansas City Wizards' assistant coach Brian Bliss said Sunday that he plans on letting the Colorado Rapids that he would like to be considered a candidate for the head coaching position opened when it was announced last week that Tim Hankinson would not be re-hired.

"I didn't think it was appropriate [for me to express my interest] last week due to the fact that they just let Tim go, or announced that they weren't rehiring him," said Bliss in the Kansas City locker room after MLS Cup 2004. "And we were in the middle of our preparation week for the final, so I didn't think it was appropriate for me to distract myself. [I wanted to] let [the Colorado situation] die down and [let them] get clear heads.

"I think I'll place a call on Monday to whomever's over there, whether it's [Rapids governor] Charlie Wright, [general manager] Dan Counce, or [Rapids soccer ambassador] Marcelo [Balboa] to express my interest and let it go from there."

Bliss has many of the credentials that are required for a head coaching position including five years tutelage under Wizards iconic head coach Bob Gansler.

"I think I'm ready. I've spent five years in here as an assistant; one year as a head guy in the A-League," Bliss said. "Is six years a wealth of knowledge? No, but I think it's certainly enough. Couple that with the playing background, and I think I'm ready."

Bliss's playing experiences ran the gamut from 1984 to 1998. From 1984-85 he earned 44 caps with the U.S. national team, was a member of the '90 World Cup team that competed in Italy with Gansler as the head coach, played in the 1995 Copa America, and represented the United States in the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea.

Internationally, Bliss played five seasons in the German 2nd Division for F.C. Carl Zeiss Jena and two years for F.C. Chemnitz.

Ending his playing career in MLS, Bliss spent time with the Columbus Crew, the MetroStars, and the Wizards during the first three seasons of the league.

"With the international experience that I have, I think I've done the preparation work as a player, and now as a coach, to make myself eligible for the job, certainly qualified for the job," commented Bliss.

Bliss's time serving as assistant to Gansler may tip the scales in his favor considering he and Gansler have led the Wizards to two MLS Cup finals. Bliss has seen first-hand what works and has learned some things in his tenure.

"I just think organization -- being organized when you step on the field for practice, being organized when you're preparing a team to give them as much information as possible without overloading them, and just being professional when you get to the field," said Bliss of what he has learned from Gansler.

Bliss is a man who believes in a strong work ethic also.

"Demanding a lot out of your players [is important]," he said. "I grew up that way. I've got that in my bones."

If he does end up heading to Colorado, Bliss will take some lessons from the, in many ways remarkable, past season.

"The fact that we had the amount of injuries that we had and were still able to overcome them was due to the fact that we evaluate players pretty well and we give them the opportunity, at least in training, to show what they can do so when something does go wrong someone can step in there and do the job," he explained. "That's due to the professionalism that we approach training with every day and the seriousness that we ply our trade. That pays dividends."

Hopefully, for Bliss, he can reap some dividends of his own and be given the chance to head up the Colorado Rapids in 2005.

Robert Rusert is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.


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