Legendary American soccer manager Ron Newman, best known as the coach of the dynastic San Diego Sockers of indoor soccer but remembered in South Florida as the manager of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the original North American Soccer League and the short-lived leader of the Miami Americans, died Monday morning. The news was first reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Born Ronald Vernon Newman in Fareham, England, he had a notable professional career in English football. Making appearances for Portsmouth (108), Leyton Orient (14), Crystal Palace (6) and Gillingham (93), he would eventually wind up in America in the NASL. In fact, it was when he moved to the Dallas Tornado in 1965 when he transitioned to management.
While he had a lengthy stay in Dallas, it was in South Florida where Newman made his first big splash. His three seasons with the Strikers are considered the heyday for the club and for soccer in South Florida. In 1977, the Strikers would lead the Eastern Division of the American Conference and Newman would win the league’s Coach of the Year award. In three seasons, Fort Lauderdale went 52-34.
A short Dade stay
Amid frustration between Newman and the Robbie family, which owned the club, Newman was involved in an effort to bring a rival to the Strikers to Miami-Dade County. The New Jersey Americans were purchased by a group including Newman and brought to Tropical Park in 1980. The success was a flop, the club would be shuttered within a year, and Newman would leave midseason to the site of his greatest success, San Diego.
When Newman took over in 1980, the San Diego Sockers were an NASL afterthought transitioning to indoor soccer. Within a season, Newman led the Sockers to the NASL indoor title and would win championships in 10 of the next 11 seasons. The Major Arena Soccer League named its championship trophy, the Ron Newman Cup, after him.
He did eventually connect the bridge back to the outdoor game, becoming the first manager of the Kansas City Wizards of Major League Soccer in 1996 before retiring in 1999.