Sons step into shoes of Gauss

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:57 AM ET

It's going to take a while for the new London City soccer team to find its way.

For more years than anyone can remember Harry Gauss has done just about everything that needed to be done at London City. That included coaching, recruiting, signing, promoting, travelling to Toronto for Canadian Soccer League business and even announcing at home games.

All that's changed this year. Gauss is being treated for a brain tumour. He had hoped to be able to coach the CSL team but that's not possible. The coaching duties have fallen to longtime London City player Gentjan Dervishi. He'll be a player-coach.

Administrative and managerial duties will be shared by Gauss's sons Ryan and Sean.

"It's been very difficult," Ryan Gauss said. "There's so much to do. I was in Toronto three times last week just for meetings. With the women's division at London City, there's a lot going on."

With Gauss's illness, the team got off to a late start with preparations and establishing a roster.

"Things are still developing," Gauss said before the team's opening game tonight at Cove Road against Toronto Croatia, an 8:30 p.m. start.

Most of the players on the roster will be local. About six return from last year's club, the most notable being Dervishi, Marco Peeters and Miquel Knox. Not returning will be Dennis Peeters, one of the key members of the team. Work commitments in Toronto prevented him from coming back.

Newcomers include Martin Painter, who played and coached for AEK Olympic in the Western Ontario Soccer League Premier Division, along with several other Premier Division players.

Painter is participating on a tryout basis. Also returning is striker Esa Buklu, who played several games early for London City last year before suffering a knee injury.

London City will also have young London Marconi striker Mike Marcoccia in the lineup. He's quick and able to jump into openings.

Quickness has been an issue with London City in recent years. Their offensive woes in recent years have been because their midfield hasn't been constructive enough to generate openings and their forwards have lacked quickness to trouble defences.

London City's most important signing though may be former CSL rookie-of-the-year Tom Bianchi. His signing fills a hole in the goaltending position. Last year that position was like a revolving door as injuries forced City into constant changes.

Bianchi has already proven his worth. He was the best player on the field for London City in a season-opening 2-0 loss to Windsor. Bianchi was only beaten on a penalty shot and a last-second goal.

"Things are moving in a good direction, slowly but they are moving in a good direction," said Dervishi. "It was a shock what happened to Harry. We were all caught by surprise. He was always there, doing everything. But the people filling in are doing a good job. It doesn't look as bad as it did at the beginning but it's moving slowly."

It will take a while for the team to find some continuity. They didn't catch any breaks by having to play Croatia, one of the premier teams in the CSL, so early in the season.

"We're just trying to put the pieces together, trying to bring some players in and put a team together than can compete at least against a team like Croatia," said Dervishi. "It's a big game tomorrow for us but it's not going to be easy."

Being a player/coach isn't a situation Dervishi likes. But everyone at London City is trying to do whatever they can to make things workable through a difficult time.

"Coaching and playing . . . it's something I don't want to do right now," Dervishi said. "But with the circumstances the way they are right now, if that's what they want from me, I'll do it."


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