The MASL expansion Mesquite Outlaws today have named former Dallas Sidekicks star player and coach Tatu as the franchise’s first Head Coach. Former Sidekicks stars Nick Stavrou and Sagu were also named to Tatu’s coaching staff.
The announcement confirms the rumored hiring of Tatu which has been widely speculated this month.
In nine seasons as a Head Coach, all with the Sidekicks, Tatu compiled a 125-79 record, with eight playoff appearances. He led the Sidekicks to the finals four times and won both the 1998 PSA and 2001 WISL titles.
Tatu, 57, led the modern incarnation of Sidekicks into battle when they returned to action in 2012 and went 41-11 in three seasons before parting ways with the previous ownership group in an ugly lawsuit in 2015. Since then, the Sidekicks have gone 23-41 under unpopular Head Coach Simon Bozas. The Sidekicks had only failed to qualify for the playoffs three times in their first 22 seasons, but have not reached the postseason in any of Bozas’s three seasons at the helm.
Adding further insult to Sidekicks fans’ injury is the loss of Stavrou and Sagu. Stavrou, a beloved former player who logged 15 seasons for the Sidekicks and later became an assistant coach, was the popular favorite to replace Tatu in 2015. Sagu, another former Sidekicks assistant, was a star goalkeeper for the team for eight seasons.
Tatu played two seasons for the Tampa Bay Rowdies indoors before following coach Gordon Jago to the Sidekicks when the expansion team joined the MISL in 1984. With the exception of one season where Tatu played for the Wichita Wings in the Sidekicks offseason, Tatu was a permanent fixture with Dallas from 1984 to 2015.
As a player he scored 857 goals and 728 assists in 633 games, leading the league in scoring 10 times and capturing six league MVP awards. He was elected to the Indoor Soccer Hall of Fame in 2011. Tatu’s play spoke for itself, but he became known for his flamboyant iconic post goal ritual of tossing his jersey into the stands, and his name became synonymous with the Sidekicks. He transitioned to coaching in 1998, but continued playing until his final game in 2003.
The announcements are a huge boon to the Outlaws competitive aspirations, following what has been a very low key roll out in the market since the team announced its existence via press release in April. With only about 30 miles separating the Outlaws and the Allen-based Sidekicks, the moves put even more pressure on Dallas to improve their team and rebuild a fan base that has been damaged by losing on the field and the lost 2017-18 season when the franchise went dormant for a year.
While its impact on the Sidekicks is a concern, it is a welcome development to have Tatu inolved with the MASL and arena soccer again.