2001 Apr 19

From today's Sounders news release:

Neil Megson Resigns for Personal Reasons

Former Seattle Sounders defender and Northwest sports icon Bernie James has been named Seattle Sounders interim coach, effective immediately. James, 42, played 22 seasons of professional soccer over four decades (70s, 80s, 90s, 00s) before retiring as a player at the end of the 2000 season. James assumed the coaching duties beginning with Wednesday's practice.

Neil Megson, who had been coach since the 1996 season, resigned based on a disagreement in principle with management concerning direction and the development of the club.

Before promotion, James had been the Sounders assistant coach since 1996. James' 22 seasons of professional soccer included seven (1994-2000) with the Sounders. At the time of his retirement, he was the oldest active professional soccer player in North America. James was a member of the 1995 and 1996 A-League Champion Sounders teams and the 1994 and 2000 Division Championship teams.

"I am ecxtatic to have been named head coach for the Sounders," said James. "There is a solid foundation to build on here with the young, talented players we have and the club concept to support future development."

Seattle has four preseason matches remaining, including matches on Saturday, April 21 in Yakima and Sunday, April 22 against Portland at Interlake High School. The Sounders close the preseason with matches at the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday, April 28 and against US Pro-40 on Sunday, April 29 in Puolsbo, WA. The Sounders season opener is Saturday, May 5, 7 pm against Vancouver at Seattle Memorial Stadium.

"Bernie is well qualified for this position based on his years of experience with the team," said Sounders General Manager Brad Kimura. "Bernie is committed to the building of the Sounders club concept and the development of the players on the team."

Known for his solid defensive play, Bernie earned his nicknames "The Chairman of Defense" and "The Legend". Bernie ranks high in several Sounders statistics. He is second on the all-time Sounders matches played list, tied for fourth on matches started and is fourth on the minutes played list.

"We are grateful to Neil Megson for his contribution with the team and we wish him the best for the future," said Neil Farnsworth, Sounders Managing Owner.

James is interim coach for the 2001 season and his status will be evaluated at the end of the season.

Ht: 6'0"     Wt: 215 lb     Age: 42    Date of Birth: 1958 Nov 25
Off-Season Home: Kirkland, WA          Place of Birth: England  Citizenship: US
How Acquired: free agent, April 1994   Years Played as a Pro: 22 (7 with Seattle)

Career Notes: Retired after 22 professional seasons including 7 with the Sounders...Has been a Sounders assistant coach since 1996...Participated in 6 matches in 2001, starting 3...Played in 4 regular season matches in 2000, starting 3...Played in 17 regular season matches, starting 15, in 1999...Started and played the whole playoff match against San Diego on Sep 25.

Other Professional Soccer Experience: Began his professional career when he signed a contract with the Seattle Sounders of the old North American Soccer League (NASL) in 1977 at age 19...Later went on to play for the Edmonton Drillers in 1980 before moving indoors in 1982...Member of the US National and Olympic Teams, earning two caps playing for the national team in 1988...Played for the 1979 US Pan-Am team.

Indoor Soccer Highlights: MISL all-time leader in blocked shots with 1,012...In nine indoor seasons, scored 36 goals with 55 assists...Was a four-time MISL All-Star selection...Named MISL's Defender of the Year in 1982-83 with 131 blocked shots.

Personal: A Seattle native...Was an All-League player at Bellevue High School...Still lives year-round in the Seattle area...Has two kids (Amy and Nick)...Used a strong workout program to extend his career...Active basketball and tennis player...Played on same Tacoma Stars team as his brother, Joe James.

Career Stats:
YR    CLUB                MP  G  A  Season Highlights
1978  Seattle (NASL)                Sounders Reserve Team
1979  Seattle (NASL)                Sounders Reserve Team
1980  Edmonton (NASL)     21  0  1
1981  Edmonton (NASL)     26  0  2
1982  Edmonton (NASL)     27  1  1  Team Captain
1988  US National Team     2  0  0  Olympic Team, Jun 1 and 3
1994  Seattle (A-League)  17  0  0
1995  Seattle (A-League)  Did not play (injured)
1996  Seattle (A-League)   7  0  0  Assistant Coach
1997  Seattle (A-League)  33  0  0  Assistant Coach
1998  Seattle (A-League)  27  0  0  Assistant Coach
1999  Seattle (A-League)  18  0  0  Assistant Coach
2000  Seattle (A-League)   6  0  0  Assistant Coach

YR      CLUB              MP  G  A  Season Highlights
1980-81 Edmonton (NASL)   24  1  8
1981-82 Edmonton (NASL)   22  7 10
1982-83 Cleveland (MISL)  55  8 12  MISL Defender of the Year, 152 blocks
1983-84 Cleveland (MISL)  44  4  7  99 blocks
1984-85 Cleveland (MISL)  55  3  9  108 blocks
1985-86 Cleveland (MISL)  54  3  6  147 blocks
1987-88 Tacoma (MISL)     58  3  4
1988-89 Tacoma (MISL)     44  4  3
1989-90 Cleveland (MSL)   45  7  4  113 blocks
1990-91 Cleveland (MSL)   52  3  9  Second Team All MSL, 128 blocks

Played on Championship Teams - Edmonton Drillers (Indoor) 1980-81, Seattle
Sounders 1995, 1996
Named to Seattle Times All-Time, All-State Boys Soccer Team (1999)
MVP of Bellevue High School Team in 1976

Best Moments:
Playing for the 1979 US Olympic Pan-Am Team, and playing for the US National Olympic and National Teams.