Written by David Litterer email@example.com, with supplemental materials by Steve Holroyd firstname.lastname@example.org
The NASL continued its extraordinary run in 1979. Although attendance dipped slightly, part of this was due to the large number of new franchises, some of which endured growing pains. The league still drew sizeable crowds, and enjoyed respectable media coverage.
The NASL continued to sign major international stars in 1979. The Los Angeles Aztecs lured Dutch superstar Johan Cruyff out of retirement with a reported $700,000 per year deal, and he went on to win the league MVP award. Signings included World Cup veteran Gerd Muller of West Germany, signed by Ft. Lauderdale, Swedish defender Bjorn Nordqvist, signed by the Minnesota Kicks, English midfielder Alan Hudson, who went to the Seattle Sounders, and Manchester United goalkeeper Alex Stepney, who was signed by the Dallas Tornado.
A brief player strike threatened to create havoc early in the season, but was quickly resolved, only affecting the games of April 14. Teams playing that day signed replacement players recruited from local leagues, to replace those players who refused to dress for their scheduled games.
The NASL signed a two-year deal with ABC for national telecasts of regular season and playoff games. This resulted in a big boost in publicity for the league, and although ratings were disappointingly low, the package was a vast improvement over the TVS package of previous years. For 1979, the package included nine broadcasts, including the Soccer Bowl. Perhaps in recognition of soccer's relative newness for the mainstream fan, the broadcasts included extensive descriptions of soccer rules during the telecasts. Constant interruptions for commercials were a major annoyance, and highlighted the challenges in meshing soccer games with American broadcast traditions.
A promising development was the improvement of some of the newer franchises, and healthy increases in attendance for a number of the smaller-market cities, including San Diego, Toronto and Tulsa. Chicago, a major market also showed a major increase. The league had taken care of two of their weakest franchises by moving the Oakland Stompers to Edmonton and the Colorado Caribous to Atlanta where both teams quickly ingratiated themselves with the fans. The Atlanta Chiefs had history to draw from; an earlier franchise with the same name was an original team which survived much of the rough early era of the league. The Toronto Metros-Croatia were sold, and the new owners named them the Blizzard.
The Cosmos continued to grow into a mini-United Nations of soccer, fortified by the arrival of two Dutch internationals: midfielder Johan Neeskins, and defender Wim Rijsbergen, as well as Yugoslavian/American midfielder Boris Bandov, and Canadian goalkeeper Jack Brand. Teamed with Franz Beckenbauer, Carlos Alberto and Giorgio Chinaglia (who led the league in goals), the Cosmos were almost unstoppable -- almost. They led the league again with a 24-6 record, and thanks to their 84 goals, they set a league record with 216 points. Although they continued to fly high, they were challenged by some surprising upstarts. Timo Liekoski coached the no-name Houston Hurricane to the second best record in the league, 22-8, earning the Coach of the Year award. Washington surged to 19-11, for second place in the National East, while Los Angeles Aztecs rebounded from a disastrous season to fight Vancouver for the National west title for much of the season.
The biggest disappointments were New England and Philadelphia. The Tea Men were unable to keep scoring phenom Mike Flanagan, and fell to last place with a disappointing 12-18 record. Moving from Schaefer Stadium in Foxboro to the smaller Nickerson Field in Boston distanced fans from available parking and attendance fell by half to just over 6,000 per game. The Philadelphia Fury, having lost several of their top scorers through questionable managerial moves, also lost games and fans in disturbing quantities. Atlanta and Edmonton, the transplanted teams had disappointing results on the field, but met with enthusiastic fan support, and in Edmonton's case, marked the beginning of a renaissance in fan support for Canadian soccer, which would continue through much of the 1980's. Minnesota retained the National Central title, while San Diego and California fought to a tie for the American west title. Ft. Lauderdale improved slightly to a respectable 17-13, and the fans were particularly energized by the new talent, including the world-class pairing of striker Gerd Muller of West Germany and Midfielder Teofilo Cubillas of Peru, both veterans of World Cups 1974 and 1978.
The playoffs included some quick exits for strong teams - Houston, Ft. Lauderdale, Washington and Minnesota all fell in the two-leg conference quarterfinals. The biggest upset was Houston's fall at the hands of the hapless Philadelphia fury, who forced Tampa Bay to a shootout before succumbing in the rejoined 1-0. The cosmos and Vancouver had to go to mini-games to advance, beating the resurgent Los Angeles Aztecs and the durable Tulsa Roughnecks respectively. The real upset was in the conference finals, where the Whitecaps stunned the New York Cosmos in one of the most exciting series in recent years. Vancouver blanked the Cosmos in the first game at sold out Empire stadium before 32,875. They won on goals by Trevor Whymark and Willie Johnston. Three days later on September 1, before 44,109 at new York, the teams battled to a 2-2 tie in regulation off of Vancouver goals by John Craven and Johnston, and a pair of Cosmos goals by Chinaglia, leading to a shootout won by the Cosmos to tie the series and send it to the mini-game, which was won by the Whitecaps. Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Rowdies defeated the San Diego Sockers in another close series. The Sockers took the first game in a 2-0 shutout, and the teams drew 2-2 in the second, with Tampa Bay winning the shootout and the subsequent mini-game. These conference championships were the closest in league history. the soccer Bowl was almost an anti-climax, and the absence of the cosmos reduced attendance considerably, only 50,669 of the 66,843 paid ticket holders bothered to show up at Giants stadium for the final, a tight affair on September 8, won by the Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 with Trevor Whymark scoring both goals for Vancouver and Jan Van Der Veen scoring the lone tally for the Rowdies. Alan Ball, who was so carelessly sold by the Philadelphia Fury earlier in the year scored seven goals for the Whitecaps during the playoffs and was named playoff MVP.
Once again, the NASL played a large number of international friendlies and undertook extensive overseas tours during the off-season. Moscow Dynamo played three games in February, defeating Tulsa 10-3, drawing with tampa Bay and losing to San Diego 5-2. The Cosmos drew with the Trinidad All-Stars, before going to Colombia where they defeated America Cali and lost to Nacional. During the season, highlights included a pair by Kaiserslautern, who lost to Chicago 1-2 before defeating San Diego 3-2, Bayern Munich, who defeated the Cosmos 2-0, and the Argentinian national team which defeated the Cosmos 1-0. After the seaon, Chicago and the Cosmos did extensive tours again, as did either Chicago or Los Angeles (sources do not agree). The Cosmos tour was strictly against national teams, and league all-star selections. The Cosmos easily beat Indonesia's National team while drawing 1-1 with their all-league selection. They beat Singapore's national team 4-1, drew with the jamapese League all-stars, and then beat their national team 2-0. A rare loss was to the Australian nationals, 1-2. Tulsa's tour went through Holland, Wales and England, with highlights including victories over Fortuna (3-1) and telstar (2-1), a 1-4 loss to Middlesborough right after a 3-1 victory over Worcester City. Their final four games included draws against Leicester City, and Derby County (both 202_, and losses to Shewsbury (2-5), and Lincoln City (2-9). Overall, the NASL teams did well as ambassadors to the world, with their extensive presence in many countries (see more results below).
Thus was finished a wide and exciting season for the NASL. The league had completed its second year with 24 teams, and fan support was still strong. The league had clearly survived the loss of Pele, and had a large and impressive contingent of talent providing the best soccer the US had seen to this date. To deal with the nagging problem of the secondary role being forced on the American players, the league began to seriously consider minimum quotas of USA players on the roster and on the field, to provide more opportunities for the Americans to develop their talent and foster the growth of American-born stars. Given the current state of the National team, there was a long way to go, but with the continuing fan support and the new television contract, the future of the league, at least at the time, still looked bright.
The NASL finalized their plans for an indoor league, and the first regular indoor season started late in 1979, with ten teams in two divisions, played a somewhat shorter season than the outdoor league. (See the 1980 Review for details on the 1978-79 indoor season).
Final League Standings, 1979 Before the season, Cosmos added New York back to their name. Oakland moved to Edmonton and Colorado moved to Atlanta. G W L GF GA PTS % Att. NATIONAL CONFERENCE Eastern Division New York Cosmos 30 24 6 84 52 216 .800 46,690 Washington Diplomats 30 19 11 68 50 172 .633 11,949 Toronto Blizzard 30 14 16 52 65 133 .466 11,821 Rochester Lancers 30 15 15 43 57 132 .500 8,680 Central Division Minnesota Kicks 30 21 9 67 48 184 .700 24,580 Dallas Tornado 30 17 13 53 51 152 .566 9,321 Tulsa Roughnecks 30 14 16 61 56 139 .466 16,425 Atlanta Chiefs 30 12 18 60 60 121 .400 7,350 Western Division Vancouver Whitecaps 30 20 10 54 34 172 .666 22,962 Los Angeles Aztecs 30 18 12 62 47 162 .600 14,333 Seattle Sounders 30 13 17 58 52 125 .433 18,997 Portland Timbers 30 11 19 50 75 122 .366 11,172 AMERICAN CONFERENCE Eastern Division Tampa Bay Rowdies 30 19 11 67 46 169 .633 27,650 Fort Lauderdale Strikers 30 17 13 75 65 165 .566 13,774 Philadelphia Fury 30 10 20 55 60 111 .333 5,626 New England Tea Men 30 12 18 41 56 110 .400 6,526 Central Division Houston Hurricane 30 22 8 61 46 187 .733 6,211 Chicago Sting 30 16 14 70 62 159 .533 8,036 Detroit Express 30 14 16 60 56 133 .466 14,058 Memphis Rogues 30 6 24 38 74 73 .200 7,137 Western Division California Surf 30 15 15 53 56 140 .500 10,330 San Diego Sockers 30 15 15 59 55 140 .500 11,271 Edmonton Drillers 30 8 22 43 78 88 .266 9,923 San Jose Earthquakes 30 8 22 41 74 86 .266 15,092 Conf. Quarterfinals: Philadelphia defeated Houston 2-1, 2-1 Tampa Bay defeated Detroit 3-0, 3-1 Tulsa defeated Minnesota 2-1(OT), 2-1(OT) Vancouver defeated Dallas 3-2, 2-1 Chicago defeated Ft. Lauderdale 2-0, 0-0 San Diego defeated California 2-4, 7-2 Los Angeles defeated Washington 3-1, 4-3 New York defeated Toronto 3-1, 2-0 Conf. Semi-finals: Tampa Bay defeated Philadelphia 3-2(SO),1-0 San Diego defeated Chicago 2-0, 1-0 New York defeated Tulsa 3-0, 3-0, 3-1(MG) Vancouver defeated Los Angeles 2-3, 1-0(SO), 1-0(MG) Conf. Championships: Tampa Bay defeated San Diego (1-2, 3-2 (SO), 1-0(MG) Vancouver defeated New York (2-0, 2-3(SO), 1-0(SO-MG) SOCCER BOWL-79: Vancouver defeated Tampa Bay 2-1 Leading Scorers GP G A TP Oscar Fabbiani, Tampa Bay 26 25 8 58 Giorgio Chinaglia, New York 27 26 5 57 Gerd Mueller, Ft. Lauderdale 25 19 17 55 Jeff Bourne, Atlanta 29 18 15 51 David Robb, Philadelphia 30 16 20 52 Karl-Heinz Granitza, Chicago 30 20 10 50 Teofilo Cubillas, Ft. Lauderdale 30 16 18 50 Alan Willey, Minnesota 29 21 7 49 Dennis Tueart, New York 27 16 16 48 Laurie Abrahams, Cal/Tulsa 25 18 9 45 John Cruyff, Los Angeles 23 13 16 42 Alan Green, Washington 23 16 9 41 Peter Ressel, Chicago 28 10 18 38 Willie Lippins, Dallas 25 15 7 37 Keith Furphy, Detroit 30 14 8 36 Rodney Marsh, Tampa Bay 23 11 14 36 Kevin Hector, Vancouver 25 15 6 36 Trevor Francis, Detroit 14 14 8 36 Ron Futcher, Minnesota 24 14 7 35 Wayne Hughes, Tulsa 29 12 9 33 John Ryan, Seattle 26 12 8 32 Joe Horvath, Washington 26 7 18 32 Leo Van Veen, Los Angeles 26 13 6 32 Branko Segota, Rochester 13 14 4 32 Leading Goalkeepers (1350 mins. needed to qualify) GP Min SV GA SH GAA Phil Parkes, Vancouver 29 2704 100 29 7 0.96 Victor Nogueira, Atlanta 17 1432 79 20 5 1.26 Zeljko Bilecki, Tampa Bay 17 1549 93 22 5 1.28 Mike Ivanow, Seattle 28 2517 149 39 2 1.39 Bill Irwin, Washington 28 2603 134 42 4 1.45 Paul Hammond, Houston 29 2705 215 44 6 1.46 Volkmar Gross, SD/Minnesota 24 2132 137 38 6 1.604 Kevin Keelan, New England 25 2242 133 40 6 1.605 Colin Boulton, Tulsa 30 2746 109 49 7 1.606 Tino Lettieri, Minnesota 16 1378 95 25 2 1.63 Most Valuable Player: Johan Cruyff, Los Angeles Aztecs Coach of the Year: Timo Liekoski, Houston Hurricane Rookie of the Year: Larry Hulcer, Los Angeles Aztecs North American Player of the Year: Ricky Davis, New York Cosmos NASL All-Star Team - 1st Team G Phil Parkes Vancouver Whitecaps D Carlos Alberto New York Cosmos D Bruce Wilson Chicago Sting D Wim Rijsbergen New York Cosmos D Mike Connell Tampa Bay Rowdies M Franz Beckenbauer New York Cosmos M Johan Neeskens New York Cosmos M Ace Ntsoelengoe Minnesota Kicks F Johan Cruyff Los Angeles Aztecs F Trevor Francis Detroit Express F Giorgio Chinaglia New York Cosmos
The ASL landed a major coup in 1979, signing former Cosmos coach Eddie Firmani. This showed some commitment to the future, but on the field, the league continued to play second fiddle to the NASL. Three expansion teams were added, with the Pennsylvania Stoners taking residence in Bethlehem, PA, the home of the legendary Bethlehem Steel of the 1920's. Also added were the Las Vegas Seagulls and Columbus Magic. Sacramento got a new thematic name, the Gold.
Given the volatile nature of rosters in this day of tight budgets, it is not surprising to see sudden changes in team fortunes. Nowhere was that more evident than with the collapse of the New York Apollo. Having lost many of their best players, they fell to last place in the league with a miserable 6-18-4 record. The Columbus Magic by contrast won the Eastern Division in their first season, with a strong defensive team that lacked a strong goalkeeper or major scoring talent. The New York Eagles showed strength, coming in second, while the California Sunshine continued their strong showing, taking the Western Division title. Unlike the Magic, the Sunshine was a scoring team, with Poli Garcia, Joe Fink and Andy Chapman combining for 42 goals as the Sunshine compiled a league-best 22-3-3 record. The Skyhawks by contrast, having lost most of their scoring power, fell to third.
The New York Eagles renaissance came to an abrupt end as they were quickly eliminated by Pennsylvania 2-1, while Sacramento defeated the faltering Skyhawks 3-2. Columbus overpowered the weaker Stoners 2-1 and 2-1, while Sacramento surprised the favored California Sunshine 0-0 and 1-0. In the championship game, the Sacramento Gold captured their first league title 1-0.
In the post-season, the league instability continued to be a problem. The Indianapolis Daredevils, despite having led the league in attendance only a year ago, folded due to financial problems, as did the failing Los Angeles Skyhawks, whose owner dumped the team in disgust, denouncing the perceived unprofessionalism of the league, and the Las Vegas Seagulls, having struggled from the start, threw in the towel. Ironically, league attendance was higher than it had ever been in the league's 46 years of operation, however the increasing scale of wages caused by the NASL's spending habits and the challenges of transnational travel were huge burdens for a league operating at a semi-pro level. These challenges would continue to haunt the league for the rest of its existence.
Final League Standings, 1979 Before the season, Columbus, Pennsylvania (Allentown), and Las Vegas were added. G W T L GF GA PTS Eastern Division Columbus Magic 28 17 3 8 55 41 140 New York Eagles 28 14 7 7 49 35 130 Pennsylvania Stoners 28 13 5 10 50 38 120 New Jersey Americans 28 12 3 13 36 38 101 Cleveland Cobras 28 8 3 17 29 47 75 New York Apollo 28 6 4 18 30 45 64 Western Division California Sunshine 28 22 3 3 63 29 173 Sacramento Gold 28 14 2 12 49 34 116 Los Angeles Skyhawks 28 13 4 11 42 44 114 Indianapolis Daredevils 28 8 3 17 35 58 78 Las Vegas Seagulls 28 7 3 18 28 54 69 1st Round: Pennsylvania defeated New York 2-1 Sacramento defeated Los Angeles 3-2. Semi-Finals: Columbus defeated Pennsylvania 2-1, 2-1 Sacramento defeated California 0-0, 1-0. CHAMPIONSHIP: Sacramento defeated Columbus 1-0. After the season, Los Angeles, Indianapolis and Las Vegas folded. New York Eagles suspended operations for one year. Leading Scorers GP G A TP Ian Filby, Sacramento 26 14 17 45 Poli Garcia, California 26 15 12 42 Jim Fink, California 23 15 9 39 Branko Samatovic, NY Eagles 28 8 16 32 Andy Chapman, California 25 12 6 30 Christian Nwokocka, Pennsylvania21 13 3 29 Colin Mclocklan, Indianapolis 28 12 5 29 Ron Wigg, Columbus 27 13 2 28 Steve Long, Pennsylvania 28 10 6 26 Anselmo Vicoso, Sacramento 18 10 6 26 Leading Goalkeepers (1300 mins. needed to qualify) Min Sho Svs GA SO GAA Tom Reynolds, California 1926 284 112 17 8 0.79 Jamil Canal, New York Apollo 1742 247 113 20 6 1.03 H. Hadzitonic, New York Eagles 2633 453 264 35 8 1.20 Pita Balac, Sacramento 2389 277 125 32 5 1.21 Scott Manning, Pennsylvania 2625 441 232 37 6 1.27 Va Taylor, Columbus 2392 360 189 35 7 1.32 Meno Drogenmoeller, Las Vegas 1323 167 65 23 2 1.56 Brian Parkinson, Los Angeles 2437 322 119 44 6 1.62 John Baretta, Indianapolis 1531 284 142 28 3 1.65 Most Valuable Player: Poli Garcia, California Sunshine Coach of the Year: Willie Erlich, Pennsylvania Stoners Rookie of the Year: John McDermott, Las Vegas Seagulls All-Star team: G - Tom Reynolds, California Sunshine D - Daniel Mammana, Columbus Magic D - Andjelko Tesan, New York Eagles D - Ramon Moraldo, California Sunshine D - Mickey Brown, Sacramento Gold M - Don Tobin, California Sunshine M - Clyde Watson, New York Eagles M - Norman Piper, Columbus Magic F - Poli Garcia, California Sunshine F - Ian Filby, Sacramento Gold F - Branko Samatovic, New York Eagles
On December 22, 1978, 10,386 fans piled into Cincinnati’s Riverfront Coliseum to watch the hometown Kids take on New York Arrows in the first Major Indoor Soccer League match; in keeping with the spirit of the occasion, baseball legend (and Kids co-owner) Pete Rose kicked out the first ball.
Those in attendance viewed indoor soccer played under rules different than those under which the NASL exhibitions had been played. While most of the NASL indoor rules had been retained, Tepper and Foreman (who was now the MISL Commissioner) met with a few friends in a Philadelphia apartment before the season to try to add scoring to the game. As a result, the game was divided into four 15-minute periods, as opposed to the three 20-minute periods used by the NASL. More importantly, the size of the goals was enlarged, to both allow for heading in the inside game and increase scoring. When asked how high the goals should be, Tepper stood in a doorway at the apartment and indicated they should be as high as the door frame; as a result, the goals stood 6’6’’ high by 12’ wide, as compared to the NASL’s 4’ by 16’. Tepper, predictably, was excited by their "new" sport: "Bringing soccer indoor provides all the speed and scoring lacking in the outdoor game," he said. "And they are ingredients the American fans look for in a sport-and indoor soccer has them."
Initial fan reaction to the game showed that Tepper might have been right: all of the six clubs drew respectable crowds to their openers, with Philadelphia drawing a capacity 16,529 crowd to its home debut on December 30. The league’s inaugural season consisted of a 24 game schedule; it averaged 4,453 per game. Philadelphia Fever, made up mostly of players from the city’s amateur United League, paced the circuit at 8,500 per game.
The sides themselves came from a variety of sources. As noted, Philadelphia’s club was made up of local amateurs, with seasoned pros like goalkeeper Woody Hartman (the 1976 American Soccer League save leader) and New York Cosmos’ cast-offs Joey Fink (by way of Tampa Bay Rowdies) and Fred Grgurev. Pittsburgh Spirit took this approach one step further, hiring a local high school coached named Bruno Schwartz and putting together a team of college players whose average age was 23. On the other extreme were Houston and New York, who imported the NASL’s Houston Hurricane and Rochester Lancers, respectively.
While MISL rules called for at least 10 Americans on each side’s 14 man roster, the number of native-born Yanks per team varied greatly, as "American" essentially included both native and naturalized Americans and Canadians, as well as "permanent resident" green card visa holders. While Philadelphia and Pittsburgh featured local talent, for example, New York only had three natives on their squad (although, to be fair, the Arrows had a few Canadian players). In spite of these disparities, many more Americans had an opportunity to play in the MISL that they had outdoors. By the late 1970s, the United States had already produced a fair number of capable goalkeepers and defenders, and this was reflected in the MISL, as goalkeepers Shep Messing (New York), Keith Van Eron (Cincinnati), and Woody Hartman (Philadelphia) and defenders Jim Pollihan (New York) and Ed Sheridan (Philadelphia) performed impressively. However, as was common at the time, the number of creative, talented American scorers were few and far between: Joe Fink (Philadelphia) and John Stemlau (Houston) were the only natives to crack the top ten in scoring. Nonetheless, the league did introduce scorers to soccer fans who would remain dominant throughout the next decade: Steve Zungul (New York), Kai Hasskivi (Houston), and 17-year old Canadian sensation Branko Segota (New York).
On the field, Houston, with its polished NASL vets, emerged as the class of the league behind the scoring of Haaskivi and solid goalkeeping of Paul Hammond, easily winning the regular season crown, and compiling an 11-1 home record in the process. Philadelphia and New York recovered from poor starts to scramble into the playoffs with Cincinnati--also dominant at home, posting a 10-2 mark--and Houston. The playoffs found the heavily favored Houston side fall at home to Philadelphia, while New York, riding the production of scoring sensation Zungul, easily defeated Cincinnati. The MISL’s first finals found the experienced Arrows sweeping the Fever in the best-of-three series.
The second game of this series revealed all of the MISL and indoor soccer’s promise. Played before 6,096 fans in Philadelphia, the Arrows were down 2-0 in the first half, spotting the opposition an early lead as they had done all season. Their defense shut out the Fever offense the remainder of the half, however, and rallied to tie the score and then win the match outright. The goal of the season was scored in the second half, when Arrows defender Jim Polihan headed a ball to young forward Pat Ercoli. Ercoli, seeing that the ball was too low to head and too high to volley, chest-trapped the ball, then flipped it and drilled it past Philadelphia keeper Dan Brennan from twenty-yards out. "I thought of Pelé when he did it," offered Messing, who was outstanding in a 26 save effort, earning the playoff MVP award. Steve Zungul won the first of many regular-season MVP awards. Philadelphia’s Fred Grgurev scored a hat-trick in the team’s first match, followed that up with a four-goal effort in the Fever’s home opener, and rode the momentum from those performances to the league scoring title.
During the season each MISL team hosted the Soviet club Moscow Spartak for an exhibition. Led by scorer Georgij Jartsev, Spartak plowed through its opposition, with only a loss to Houston preventing a sweep of the league.
All told, the MISL’s first season was a success--none of the franchises ended the year in financial trouble, and attendance had increased steadily through the season. Plans were made to expand the number of franchises and the number of teams for the next year.
Final MISL League Standings, 1978-79 G W L GF GA GB % Houston Summit Soccer 24 18 6 175 114 -- .750 New York Arrows 24 16 8 176 136 2 .667 Cincinnati Kids 24 16 8 154 129 2 .667 Philadelphia Fever 24 11 13 141 154 7 .458 Pittsburgh Spirit 24 6 18 123 171 12 .250 Cleveland Force 24 5 19 94 159 13 .208 Playoffs: New York defeated Cincinnati 9-4. Philadelphia defeated Houston 6-3. CHAMPIONSHIP: New York defeated Philadelphia 14-7, 9-5. After the season, Cincinnati folded. Leading Scorers GP G A TP Fred Grgurev, Philadelphia 24 46 28 74 Steve Zungul, New York 18 43 25 68 Kai Haaskivi, Houston 22 39 25 64 Branko Segota, New York 21 25 22 47 Doug Wark, Cincinnati 22 29 16 45 Joe Fink, Philadelphia 22 30 14 44 Ian Anderson, Houston 21 29 13 42 Stewart Jump, Houston 21 21 18 39 John Stremlau, Houston 24 16 21 37 Alberto Alves, Philadelphia 24 20 16 36 Sid Nolan, Pittsburgh 23 21 13 42 Gerry Morielli, Houston 19 20 13 33 Dave Darachan, Pittsburgh 23 23 9 32 John Dolinsky, Pittsburgh 22 16 15 31 Pat Ercoli, New York 21 18 13 31 John Smilie, Cincinnati 20 14 17 31 LEADING GOALKEEPERS (Min. 800 minutes to qualify) GP Min. Svs GA Record GAA Paul Hammond, Houston 17 1010 301 70 13-3 4.16 Keith Van Eron, Cincinnati 23 1237 400 104 15-7 5.04 Shep Messing, New York 22 1236 537 107 14-7 5.19 Woody Hartman, Philadelphia 22 1237 469 120 10-10 5.82 Pete Mannos, Pittsburgh 16 880 311 102 5-9 6.95 Most Valuable Player: Steve Zungul, New York Arrows MISL Scoring Champion: Fred Grgurev, Philadelphia Fever Coach of the Year: Timo Liekoski, Cleveland Crunch Goalkeeper of the Year: Paul Hammond, Houston Summit Soccer Championship Series Player of the Year: Shep Messing, New York Arrows MISL Pass Master (most Assists): Fred Grgurev, Philadelphia Fever All-MISL team: G - Shep Messing, New York Arrows D - Fred Grgurev, Philadelphia Fever D - Ian Anderson, Houston Summit Soccer F - Kai Haaskivi, Houston Summit Soccer F - Steve Zungul, New York Arrows
The national programs had three items on the agenda for 1979: Olympic qualifying for 1980, the 1979 Pan-American Games and preparation for the 1982 World Cup. First up were the Pan American qualification rounds in April. Coach Walt Chyzowych assembled a roster of college players and NASL players who had signed the "Olympic registration" form, allowing them to retain amateur status by receiving expense stipends rather than actual salaries. The Americans boned up by shutting out Mexico 4-0 and edging Canada.
In the qualifying rounds that April, the US had to rely largely on the college contingent. At this time, there was little love lost between the USSF and the NASL. The league didn't see national events as significant, and basically called the shots; the US being the only nation that did not require leagues to release their players for the National Team. This made the qualification a frustrating adventure, with US success depending as much on the airline schedule as on the skill displayed at the pitch. After the Americans pulled off an upset of Mexico (2-1, from goals by Angelo DiBernardo and George Nanchoff), the NASL recalled four players, and the US had to field a mostly college lineup in the Canada match; the best they could manage was a scoreless draw. The Nanchoff brothers and a third player were allowed to return, but they only arrived minutes before the final game against Bermuda, and had to dress for the game on the sidelines. In this unsettled state, they lost to Bermuda 1-0, but amazingly, Mexico was eliminated from the competition. The US qualified in what Chyzowych called a minor miracle.
The Pan-American Games were held in the summer, and the NASL offered no cooperation; the coach was forced to field the youngest team of the tournament (average age 20), consisting mostly of the Youth Team. The Amerks did better than expected, shutting out the Dominican Republic 6-0, including four goals by Don Ebert. They then defeated Puerto Rico 3-1 in a rough game involving three ejections. The dream came to an end against Argentina who swamped the US 4-0, although the Americans had to play much of the game with ten players when Tim Clark was injured after two substitutions had already been made. After losing to Cuba 5-0, the US finished last in their group. The team left the competition rather than play Puertio Rico for 5th place. Brazil took the gold, Cuba took the Silver and Argentina took the bronze.
The Senior team began practice for qualifications by losing a pair to the soviet Union (-1 in Seattle, 4-1 in San Francisco). In May, the team reformed to play their first game against France. Since this game was in the middle of the NASL season, the team once again made to make do with whatever players the league made available, With only three days preparation, they were no match for France who shut them out 6-0. The team had no practice, and five players arrived the day of the game. They even had to deal with petty disputes involving product endorsements! US players, getting better visibility had signed endorsement deals which sometimes conflicted with those already in place with the USSF. his disagreement had to be resolved in the locker room, with players hurriedly disguising their shoes with magic marker and shoe paste while the coach explained their game plan in seven minutes on the blackboard.
The National team reassembled in October for a European tour. This team had a much stronger contingent of major NASL players including Winston DuBose, Ty Keough, Ringo Cantillo, Gary Etherington and Greg Villa. After victories against the Bermuda select team and the national team, the US had a fairly respectable rematch against France, only being shut out 3-0 against the World Cup veterans. After losing to Xamax FC of Switzerland 2-1, they beat Bercham FC 2-0 in Belgium, drew with Volendam 1-1 and beat Castellon 2-1 (Spanish 2nd div.).
This was followed by one of the most significant upsets in years, and a sign that there was still hope. The US played the Hungarian national team in Budapest on October 26. The game was tough with a surprisingly effective US performance. Early in the 2nd half, Louis Nanchoff scored on a breakaway, and Hungary missed a free kick after a questionable call against Arnie Mausser by kicking the ball into the stands. This rattled the home team, and they became increasingly disorganized as they tried to even the score. During this scrabble, Angelo DiBernardo snagged the ball at midfield and ran alone toward the goal. A desperate tackle from behind failed to derail him, and he angled a low left shot by the goalie who had come out to defend. The game ended thus, at 2-0 with the crowd chanting "USA! - USA" as the team returned to their dressing room. They almost won their next game, the final one of the tournament, against Ireland. The US pulled out to a 2-0 lead on goals by DiBernardo and Villa, but then fell apart on defense, allowing Ireland to score three goals in two minutes. But overall, the tour was a significant victory, with the Americans taking home a 5-3-1 record.
The final item on the agenda was Olympic qualifying. The US nearly blew their chance, by losing twice to Mexico. The first game, in Mexico City, was a 4-0 shutout. Once again, NASL pulled players at the last minute, with the new lineup worked out at the waiting station at the airport. Same story at the rematch at Giants stadium, where some players flew in the night before the game. Needing five goals to qualify, the US instead was shutout by 2-0 in a game that was more of a warm up for the Cosmos match that completed the doubleheader. This eliminated the US, but in a major reversal of fortune, FIFA granted an American protest, finding that Mexico had used ineligible players. With Mexico withdrawn, the US proceeded to the next CONCACAF round, and easily beat Bermuda 3-0 and 5-0, and finished the year with a ticket to the final round-robin tournament against Costa Rica and Suriname. It was looking good for the US to qualify for the first time in many years.
In a bitter setback, the Youth team (U-19) failed to qualify for the U-20 World Youth Cup after beating Puerto Rico 2-0 and Trinidad 4-0, before losing to Trinidad 3-1 and Honduras 1-0. Chyzowych criticized the colleges for their lack of support by not allowing players to participate, sometimes pulling players at the last moment. As he said, the USSF cannot do the job alone.
1979 Totals: 6W, 0D, 3L (Full internationals only) ======================================================================= Dec 12 79 W 5-0 Bermuda +Ft. Lauderdale, FL,USA(OLQ'80) R. Davis, Villa Dec 02 79 W 3-0 Bermuda +Hamilton, Bermuda (OLQ'80) A. Dibernardo, R. Davis Oct 29 79 L 2-3 Ireland Dublin, Ireland Villa, Di Bernardo Oct 26 79 W 2-0 Hungary Budapest, Hungary L. Nanchoff, Di Bernardo Oct 10 79 L 0-3 France Paris, France Oct 07 79 W 3-1 Bermuda Hamilton, Bermuda Liveric, Bandov, Makowski Jun 03 79 FW 2-0 Mexico +New York, NY, USA (OLQ'80) May 23 79 FW 2-0 Mexico +Leon, Mexico (OLQ'80) May 02 79 L 0-6 France East Rutherford, NJ, USA Feb 11 79 L 1-4 Soviet Union San Francisco, CA, USA Liveric Feb 03 79 L 1-3 Soviet Union Seattle, WA, USA R. Davis
San Diego Sockers February 16, 1979 - March 14, 1979. Record: 2 win, 1 loss, 1 draw 2/16/79 San Diego Sockers 4 at Mexican All-Stars 1 2/27/79 San Diego Sockers 1 at Nuevo Leon (Mexico) 1 3/2/79 San Diego Sockers 0 at Mirador (Mexico) 2 3/3/79 San Diego Sockers at Universidad (Mexico) 3/14/79 San Diego Sockers 1 at Universidad (Mexico) 0 New York Cosmos March 5, 1979 - March 25, 1979. Record: 1 win, 1 loss, 2 draws 3/5/79 New York Cosmos 1 at Trinidad All-Stars 1 3/7/79 New York Cosmos 0 at Nautico (Brazil) 0 in Trinidad 3/15/79 New York Cosmos 2 at America-Cali (Columbia) 0 3/18/79 New York Cosmos 0 at Nacional (Columbia) 2 Tulsa Roughnecks September 19, 1979 - October 16, 1979. Record: 5 wins, 3 losses, 4 draws, 9/19/79 Tulsa Roughnecks 3 at Groningen (Netherlands) 0 9/23/79 Tulsa Roughnecks 2 at Helmond Sport (Netherlands) 1 9/25/79 Tulsa Roughnecks 3 at Fortuna (Netherlands) 1 9/29/79 Tulsa Roughnecks 2 at Telstar (Netherlands) 1 10/8/79 Tulsa Roughnecks 1 at Bangor City (Wales) 1 10/10/79 Tulsa Roughnecks 3 at Worcester City (Wales) 1 10/16/79 Tulsa Roughnecks 1 at Middlesbrough (England) 4 10/17/79 Tulsa Roughnecks 1 at Wigan Athletic (England) 1 10/22/79 Tulsa Roughnecks 2 at Leicester City (England) 2 10/23/79 Tulsa Roughnecks 2 at Shrewsbury Town (England) 5 10/24/79 Tulsa Roughnecks 2 at Derby County (England) 2 10/29/79 Tulsa Roughnecks 2 at Lincoln City (England) 9 10/31/79 Tulsa Roughnecks at Cardiff City (Wales) New York Cosmos September 20, 1979 - October 14, 1979. Record: 6 wins, 2 loss, 5 draws. 9/20/79 New York Cosmos 3 at Team Seiko (Hong Kong) 3 9/24/79 New York Cosmos 6 at Hong Kong All-Stars 0 9/28/79 New York Cosmos 0 at South Korea National Team 1 9/30/79 New York Cosmos 2 at South Korea National Team 3 10/3/79 New York Cosmos 4 at Indonesia National Team 1 10/5/79 New York Cosmos 1 at All-Indonesia Selection 1 10/7/79 New York Cosmos 4 at Singapore National Team 1 10/10/79 New York Cosmos 1 at Japanese All-Stars 1 10/14/79 New York Cosmos 2 at Japanese National Team 2 10/17/79 New York Cosmos 5 at Malaysia National Team 0 10/21/79 New York Cosmos 3 at Victoria State (Australia) 2 10/24/79 New York Cosmos 1 at Australian National Team 2 10/31/79 New York Cosmos 2 at Adelaide City (Australia) 0
In the NCAA Division 1 tournament, third round action saw SIU-Edwardsville defeat San Francisco 4-2. Penn State defeated Indiana 2-0, Clemson nudged American 1-0, and Columbia defeated Rhode Island 5-1. In the semifinals, SIU-Edwardsville defeated Penn State 2-1 and Clemson defeated Columbia 4-1. The championship was held in Tampa, FL. Penn state took the 3rd place game 2-1, and on December 9 SIU-Edwardsville won the national title 3-2 over Clemson.
In the NCAA Division 2 tournament, third round action saw Southern Connecticut State defeat Mercy 2-1. Eastern Illinois defeated Missouri State 3-0, Seattle Pacific defeated Chapman 3-0, and Alabama A&M defeated Florida International 3-0. In the semifinals, Eastern Illinois defeated Southern Connecticut State 1-0, and Alabama A&M defeated Seattle pacific 1-0 in overtime. The championship returned to Miami for the 3rd year. Seattle Pacific won the 3rd place game over So. Connecticut State 1-0, and on December 1, 1979, Alabama A&M defeated Eastern Illinois 2-0.
In the NCAA Division 3 tournament, second round action saw Babson defeat Brandeis 2-0, Lock haven defeated Scranton 1-0 in triple overtime, Washington (Mo.) defeated Denison 2-0, and Rowan defeated Cortland State 2-0. In the semifinals, Babson defeated Lock haven 1-0 (quadruple overtime), and Rowan defeated Washington (Mo.) 3-2 in double overtime. The championship moved to Trenton, NJ. Washington (Mo.) defeated lock Haven 2-0 to take third place, and on November 24, Babson won the national title, defeating Rowan 2-1.
NAIA Championship: Quincy 1, Rockhurst 0
NJCAA Championship: Miami-Dade South 1, Fulton-Montgomery C. C. 0
NCCAA Championship: Houghton 6, Trinity (IL) 0
Coaches' Final Division 1 Poll: 1. SIU-Edwardsville 2. Alabama A&M 3. Clemson 4. Penn State 5. Columbia 6. Indiana 7. San Francisco 8. Southern Methodist 9. Rhode Island 10. Cleveland State College All-Americans: G - Randy Phillips, Southern Methodist D - Saeid Baghvardani, Southern Methodist D - Mike Freitag, Indiana D - Barry Nix, Columbia D - Jerry Reardon, Adelphi D - John Young, Hartwick F - Armando Betancourt, Indiana F - Steve Charles, Columbia F - Clyde O'Garro, St. Francis (NY) F - Ray Taylor, Western IllinoisHermann Trophy: Jim Stamatis, Penn State
1979 US Open Cup Final: Brooklyn Dodgers, of the Cosmopolitan Soccer league defeated Chicago Croatian 2-1 on June 17.
1979 National Amateur Cup Final: Atlanta Datagraphic defeated San Francisco Glens 1-0 on July 10.
CONCACAF Champions Cup: Soccer Universidad of the USA participated, but did not advance. Deportivo FAS (El Salvador) defeated Jong Colombia (Dutch Antilles) 9-0. to take the Cup.
Pan-American Games: The US finished last in their group. (see details in National Team section above.) Brazil took the gold, Cuba took the Silver and Argentina took the bronze
U-20 World Championship: The USA did not participate in this tournament. Argentina beat the Soviet Union 3-1 for the title.
National Soccer Hall of Fame: In 1979, Enzo DeLuca, Margaret "Peg" Fowler, Al Harker, Kurt Lamm, and Gene Ringsdorf were inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame. Dave Grieve were inducted into the National Intercollegiate Soccer Officials Association hall of fame.
Last update: May 30, 2010
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