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Wizards fire Gansler as coach

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Wizards fired Bob Gansler, the longest-tenured coach in Major League Soccer history, and chose assistant coach Brian Bliss as interim coach on Wednesday.

The Wizards opened the season 3-0 for the first time, but have lost six straight to fall to 6-10-2. They are tied with the Chicago Fire for third place in the MLS Eastern Conference with 20 points.

"This is a results-oriented business. I know that's a cliche, but that's the way it is," general manager Curt Johnson said. "We've won six times in our last 26 games and that's not acceptable."

In 1990, Gansler led the United States to its first appearance in the World Cup since 1950.

Gansler, who was 86-85-51 with the Wizards, was hired to replace Ron Newman after Kansas City started the 1999 season 0-7. The 65-year-old coach will be paid through the remainder of the season, Johnson said.

Bliss, who played his last professional season in Kansas City, played under Gansler at the 1990 World Cup.

"Today is somewhat bittersweet," Bliss said.

The Hungarian-born Gansler said he would return to coaching at some level.

"Whether I coach for work or coach for a hobby, I'll coach again," he said.

Kansas City had three players, forwards Eddie Johnson and Josh Wolff and defender Jimmy Conrad, on the U.S. World Cup roster this year. No other club had more than two.

"You could argue that we have a lot of talent on the roster and we're not getting enough out of it, but that's not entirely the coach's fault," Conrad said Wednesday. "We're pros. We're the guys who have to get it done on the field, and we haven't been doing it."

Bliss' first game as coach will be Saturday, in a road match against the New York Red Bulls. Kansas City has 14 games left in the regular season.

"I don't want to make any predictions that out of these 14 we need to win 10, lose two, tie two, or win eight, tie four, lose two," Bliss said.

Bliss, a midfielder, played for Kansas City in 1998. He joined Gansler's staff following the 1999 season, after one year as the coach of the minor league Connecticut Wolves.

The Wizards won the 2000 MLS Cup and the 2004 U.S. Open Cup under Gansler, but slumped late and missed the playoffs in 2005.