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Newman Getting Smaller Contract for a Bigger Job : MSL: Socker coach will have to scramble to replace Castro, other key personnel.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Sockers on Wednesday rewarded Coach Ron Newman for his ninth championship in 10 seasons by:

-- Signing him to a new contract.

-- Giving him a cut in pay.

-- And telling him to get to work.

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He’ll have to. It also was learned Wednesday that free-agent forward Rod Castro signed with the Baltimore Blast, forcing Newman to plug yet another hole in his roster.

The Sockers have now lost two forwards (Paul Wright went to the Blast during the Sockers’ ownership transition) and a midfielder (Brian Quinn signed with the U.S. national team). In addition, they are preparing to lose the league’s all-time leading scorer, Branko Segota, who has indicated he wants to play in St. Louis.

Those four players represented 107 goals and 120 assists last year for a team that scored 302 goals on 264 assists.

The Sockers, however, might be getting some good news: All-Star defender Kevin Crow, who previously was leaning toward retirement, said there is now a 50% chance he will come back.

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Crow was the only Socker defender with more than 39 blocks last year--he had 106--and was named Defender of the Year.

“I’ve been talking to them,” Crow said. “But it’s still iffy.”

The terms of Newman’s contract were not disclosed, but the coach denied a report that it will pay him $200,000.

“It’s a two-year contract,” Newman said during a news conference at the club’s offices. “And a two-figure contract.”

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That was Newman’s way of making sure reporters were paying attention (he was joking).

Besides being the only constant in the team’s string of championships, Newman is the only coach in North American professional soccer to reach the 500-victory plateau. He has 599.

And he began working on No. 600 before he signed his contract Wednesday morning.

Although the team has yet to make announcements, Newman has come to agreements with at least three players off last year’s roster, defenders Alex Golovnia and David Banks and goalie Victor Nogueira.

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Banks, named Rookie of the Year for the 1990-91 season said he signed Wednesday, but that the Sockers had previously matched an offer he received from the Baltimore Blast “in the $30,000 range,” he said.

Banks made $16,000 last year.

The Sockers could be in jeopardy of losing other players.

Ben Collins indicated he is not satisfied with the way his negotiations are going and said if they do not improve he will seek employment elsewhere.

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“The Sockers called me in three times,” Collins said, “but they don’t want to give me the money I want.”

Collins said he accepted a pay reduction to $27,000 last year because his play the previous season was below par. However, after being switched to defense last year, Collins became a main cog, blocking 36 shots and leading all Socker defenders in scoring with 33 points. He was named the championship series MVP.

“Now they’re telling me they don’t want to pay anything,” Collins said. “I guess they are trying to keep some of the money for the guys who are free agents.

“They have only offered a raise of $3,000 to $5,000, so maybe it’s time for me quit and do something else and get my life together.”

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Castro said the club made him feel unwanted in his negotiations and that led to his decision to seek offers from other teams.

“Baltimore offered more money,” Castro said. “But the decision did not come down to that. They just seemed a whole lot more interested in having me play for them.

“It was really, really strange the way the Sockers handled negotiations. They never once came to me and said, ‘Rod, what are your plans’ even though I was doing camps for them. When my agent started soliciting offers, Baltimore kept calling calling and calling. They made me feel like I was wanted.

“The Sockers, on the other hand, had a very take-it-or-leave-it type of attitude. In fact, they offered me less than what I made last year and I thought that was an insult.”

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Newman could not be reached to comment on these developments.


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