Written by David Litterer firstname.lastname@example.org, with supplemental materials by Steve Holroyd email@example.com
The NASL entered 1981 with a sense of foreboding. Series cracks were beginning to show, as a number of clubs began to reel under the expenses of their highly-paid players. The league had been operating at a loss for several years, and attendance remained basically flat. Sizeable, but not enough to match costs. The first two teams had dropped by the wayside after the end of the 1980 season.
The first task at hand was to get the indoor league into full gear. This season, every team except for Philadelphia and New York took part in an expanded 18 game season (see summary below). In general, teams performed fair at the gate, but not as well as the MISL. Two more franchise shifts took place before the start of the season when the Tea Men moved from New England to Jacksonville, and Memphis became the 5th Canadian franchise, the Calgary Boomers. The NASL had an opportunity to benefit from the Major league baseball strike which wiped out almost half of the season, and in some cities, particularly Chicago, there was annoticeable increase in fan turnout. The ABC television contract only called for the network to broadcast the Soccer Bowl. To compensate, the league arranged a game of the week on the USA network (wendesdays), and ESPN (usually on saturdays). In addition, several teams had local TV contracts on national cable stations, including the Cosmos on WOR, the Atlanta Chiefs on WTBS, and the Chicago Sting on WGN. The league was pioneering a television strategy that foresaw the proliferation of numerous television outlets via cable, which would become a major factor in American sports during the 1990's.
With the dire financial situation, teams cut back considerably on spending, and the exodus of start players began in earnest. Gerd Muller returned to West Germany, Alan Ball departed from the Whitecaps, Kevin Hector and Mark Hateley also took their leave. Most importantly, Franz Beckenbauer and Rudi Krol returned to Europe, leaving the league without two of its bets known players. Wim Jansen left after the Washington Diplomats folded. Bjorn Nordqvist, the all-time caps leader for Sweden also packed it in after two years at Minnesota.
A few internationals were signed this year, including Englishman Peter Beardsley (to Vancouver), Ivan Buljan of Yugoslavia (to the Cosmos), and Deyna Kazimierz, the Polish midfielder. Peter Beardsley was almost unknown at the time, but would go on to a major career after his stint in the NASL. Kazimierz was already an established veteran, having starred in World Cup 1974 and 1978. Elias Figueroa, a three Cup veteran from Chile, came to finish out his playing days for a season at Ft. Lauderdale, who also picked up Bern Hozenhein, a 45-cap West German national, and veteran of the previous two world cups. Generally, these players were not of the same caliber as those departing, and if they had significant accomplishments, they were also long in the tooth.
A major conflict had been brewing for a number of years between FIFA and the NASL, and it finally broke into the open this year, threatening to start another soccer war like the one in 1928-29. Once again, it was really about power and jurisdiction between the NASL, FIFA and the United States Soccer Federation. FIFA had chafed for years about the continuing rule changes and "innovations" the NASL had made over the years. Changes to the scoring system such as the shootout and bonus points did not require approval, but the 35 yard line was a major rule change. FIFA had approved it for a limited time, but the NASL was still using it more than two years longer that had been authorized. FIFA had finally had enough and got on the USSF's case for its inability to being the NASL into line. The USSF was threatened with expulsion, which would have made the NASL an outlaw league, and any players who continued with the league would be banned from FIFA competition. This was a serious dispute, with many forceful letters flying back and forth, even former secretary of state Henry Kissinger got involved. In his position as NASL honorary chairman, got involved, pleading the case to FIFA in a four page letter. With the USSF threatened with expulsion, USSF chair Kurt Lamm flew to Madrid, to try and reach an agreement before the second soccer war erupted. Under this pressure, the NASL finally capitulated and agreed to discontinue the 35 yard line after the 1981 season. This time, the soccer war was averted; the consequences could have been disastrous otherwise. The shootout was retained, and the scoring system was modified to provide four points for a shootout win, rather than one. Other rules remained the same.
The season began with two relocated teams: The Detroit Express moved to Washington to become the new Washington Diplomats, and the Philadelphia Fury moved to Montreal to become the Manic. The Manic was one of the few success stories this season, the Montreal fans took to the team with gusto, as they averaged over 20,000 per game, and Calgary did respectably at 11,000. With two teams gone, the league dispensed with the NFL-style conferences, instead choosing a five division format. The New York Cosmos continued to fly high, winning the Eastern Division handily 23-9, tying with the resurgent Chicago Sting for best record in the league. The Sing were in the middle of a genuine renaissance, and drew almost 13,000 fans per game. This augured well for the club as it continued to play well, and even outlasted the league by several years, finishing its days in the Major Indoor Soccer League. Its success came from an offensive powerhouse led by Karl-Heinz Granitza (55 points), Arno Steffenhagen (44 points) and Pato Margentic, the Argentinean forward.
The Atlanta chiefs won a close race in the Southern; they actually had fewer wins than Jacksonville & Ft. Lauderdale, but racked up a large number of bonus points from some high scoring games. This was a very close race, with only three wins separating the four teams. The San Diego Sockers won the Western Division in a close race, and Vancouver continued their Canadian juggernaut, taking the Northwest. Several teams simply disappeared, falling to the cellar and eventual oblivion, including Toronto and Dallas.
In the playoffs, there were few surprises in the first round, most favored teams advanced, although two notable upsets saw Atlanta lose to the Tea Men in a two game sweep, and Vancouver was swept by Tampa Bay 4-1 and 1-0. In the Quarterfinals, Minnesota swept Ft. Lauderdale in a surprisingly decisive series, and the Cosmos had a tough time beating the feisty Tampa bay Rowdies, going to a shootout in the second game, and enjoying a narrow 2-0 shutout to finish the round. San Diego, as expected, easily dealt with the Jacksonville Tea Men. The Cosmos made quick work of the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers in the semis, but Chicago needed three games to dispose of San Diego, with parallel scores, 1-2 and 2-1 before shutting out the Sockers 1-0 to head towards their first Soccer Bowl. This Soccer Bowl was played in Toronto for the first time. Perhaps because the Blizzard tanked this year and were apparently on the way out, the crowds were modest, with only 36,971 watching. This was a matchup of offensive titans with tenacious defenses, who frustrated the strikers, leading to a scoreless draw for the entire 90 minutes plus overtime. finally being decided in the shootout in favor of Chicago, and the Sting celebrated their first national title.
Despite the other problems buffeting the league, their international friendlies continued to soar, with over 65 games scheduled throughout the year. New York and Vancouver continued as de-facto ambassadors for their respective countries, with both teams undertaking extensive tours both before and after the outdoor season, and a string of European teams made brief stops in the US during the season.
The international exhibition games continued at an even greater pace, with extensive tours by the New york Cosmos, Vancouver Whitecaps, and Ft. lauderdale Strikers among others in the offseason. Similarly, foreign teams made brief visits to North America during the season. In generally, these teams were not as well known as in 1980, and the NASL performed better in these matches. Games that stood out included Vancouver's draw at Nottingham Forest on October 11, New york's 1-1 draw against A. C. Milan on Octomber 18, Ft. lauderdale's 2-2 draw with Norwich City on September 30, and the cosmos' 5-2 victory over the Paraguayan National team on March 8. Less impressive was t. Lauderdale's 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Ajax Amsterdam on 10/7 and their 4-1 loss at AEK Athens on 10/12. The second Transatlantic Challenge Cup was held in May. Representing the US were the Cosmos, 1980 league champions and Seattle, #2 point getters against Glasgow Celtic and Southampton. Once again, the US teams came out on top, with Seattle defeating Southampton 3-1, and Glasgow celtic 2-1. The Cosmos shutout Glasgow 2-0 before finishing Southampton 2-1. Glasgow Celtic took the consolation game, and Seattle and New york battled to a championship draw before 40,000 spectators at Giants Stadium. Seattle won the tournament, having otuscored the Cosmos 8-7. Attendance averaged nearly 30,000 for the tournament, which provided the local soccer fans a good dose of high quality international soccer.
At the end of the season, the league's problems continued to mount. A new threat was the resurgent Major Indoor Soccer League which was growing by leaps and bounds and entering into a serious bidding war with the NASL. This put more pressure on teams already in financial trouble, and was a serious damper on the NASL's fledgling indoor league. A number of international players already had commitments back home during the winter, and other NASL players were committed to the MISL during the indoor season; hence it was a diluted talent pool that remained with the NASL for the winter, and the results showed, with lackluster play and thin crowds. Another ominous event was the decision by ABC to not renew their contract with the NASL, leaving the league without a major television outlet for their games and the corresponding revenue stream. League attendance remained fairly steady, at over 14,000 per game, but there was a noticeable dip, and the Cosmos had dropped alarmingly to 36,000 per game, and other stronger teams took a noticeable drop as well.
The writing was on the wall by now. Seeing the bleak financial picture ahead, teams began falling by the wayside: Atlanta, Washington, Minnesota, Dallas, Los Angeles, California, and Calgary folded. From this point, there was really no place to go but down. Fewer teams and players lessened the quality of play, people had less reason to watch, and owners had no hope of breaking even. The loss of Dallas was a bitter pill to follow, as the Tornado was the last original franchise in the league, having just completed its 15th season. The League began to institute quotas on number of Americans on the field, and on the roster, but by now it was too late to be of much help. The only hope left was the upcoming 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles of which the Soccer competition would be a major event. It was hoped that a large turnout at the soccer events would bring new fans to the game, but it was unclear if the league would survive long enough to reap the benefits.
Final NASL League Standings, 1981 Before the indoor season, New England moved to Jacksonville and Memphis moved to Calgary. After the indoor season, Detroit moved to Washington and Philadelphia moved to Montreal. G W L GF GA PTS % Att. Eastern Division New York Cosmos 32 23 9 80 49 200 .718 34,835 Montreal Manic 32 15 17 63 57 141 .468 23,704 Washington Diplomats 32 15 17 59 58 135 .468 12,106 Toronto Blizzard 32 7 25 39 82 77 .218 7,299 Southern Division Atlanta Chiefs 32 17 15 62 60 151 .531 6,189 Fort Lauderdale Strikers 32 18 14 54 46 144 .562 13,324 Jacksonville Tea Men 32 18 14 51 46 141 .562 9,507 Tampa Bay Rowdies 32 15 17 63 64 139 .468 22,532 Central Division Chicago Sting 32 23 9 84 50 195 .718 12,889 Minnesota Kicks 32 19 13 63 57 163 .593 16,605 Tulsa Roughnecks 32 17 15 60 49 154 .531 17,188 Dallas Tornado 32 5 27 27 71 54 .156 4,670 Western Division San Diego Sockers 32 21 11 67 49 173 .656 14,802 Los Angeles Aztecs 32 19 13 53 55 160 .593 5,814 California Surf 32 11 21 60 77 117 .343 8,299 San Jose Earthquakes 32 11 21 44 78 108 .343 12,400 Northwest Division Vancouver Whitecaps 32 21 11 74 43 186 .656 23,236 Calgary Boomers 32 17 15 59 54 151 .531 10,501 Portland Timbers 32 17 15 52 49 141 .531 10,516 Seattle Sounders 32 15 17 60 62 137 .468 18,224 Edmonton Drillers 32 12 20 60 79 123 .375 10,632 1st Round: New York (first round bye) Chicago defeated Seattle 3-2, 0-2, 3-2 Tampa Bay defeated Vancouver 4-1, 1-0 San Diego defeated Portland 1-2, 5-1, 2-0 Jacksonville defeated Atlanta 3-2, 2-1 Minnesota defeated Tulsa 3-1, 1-0 Montreal defeated Los Angeles 5-3, 2-3, 2-1 (OT) Ft. Lauderdale defeated Calgary 3-1, 2-0 Quarterfinals: Chicago defeated Montreal 2-3, 4-2, 4-2 Ft. Lauderdale defeated Minnesota 3-1, 3-0 New York defeated Tampa Bay 6-3, 2-3(SO), 2-0 San Diego defeated Jacksonville 1-2(OT), 2-1, 3-1 Semi-finals: New York defeated Ft. lauderdale 4-3, 4-1 Chicago defeated San Diego 1-2, 2-1, 1-0 SOCCER BOWL-’81: Chicago defeated New York 1-0 (SO) Transatlantic Cup Champion: Seattle Sounders After the season, Atlanta, Washington, Minnesota, Dallas, Los Angeles, California, and Calgary folded. Leading Scorers GP G A TP Giorgio Chinaglia, New York 32 29 16 74 Karl-Heinz Granitza, Chicago 31 19 17 55 Mike Stojanovic, San Diego 32 23 6 52 Brian Kidd, Atlanta 27 22 8 52 Franz Gerber, Calgary 25 20 10 50 Teofilo Cubillas, Ft.Lauderdale 28 17 10 44 Arno Steffenhagen, Chicago 28 17 10 44 Gordon Hill, Montreal 31 16 12 44 Edi Kirschner, Edmonton 31 17 9 43 Duncan McKenzie, Tulsa 31 14 16 44 Roberto Cabanas, New York 22 16 9 41 Alan Green, Jacksonville 25 16 6 38 George Best, San Jose 30 13 10 36 Frank Worthington, Tampa Bay 26 11 16 38 Ron Futcher, Minnesota 28 14 9 37 Kevin Bond, Seattle 30 16 4 36 Jan Goossens, Edmonton 26 12 11 35 Kai Haaskivi, Edmonton 32 7 21 35 Paul Child, Atlanta 31 13 8 34 John Bain, Portland 27 11 12 34 Carl Valentine, Vancouver 30 10 14 34 Leading Goalkeepers (1700 mins. needed to qualify) GP Min SV GA SH GAA Arnie Mausser, Jacksonville 31 2906 177 39 3 1.21 Jan Van Beveren, Ft. Lauderdale 32 3002 195 43 9 1.29 Barry Siddall, Vancouver 24 2217 90 33 6 1.30 Zeljko Bilecki, Tulsa 29 2631 93 39 9 1.33 Volkmar Gross, San Diego 32 2971 164 45 6 1.36 Hubert Birkenmeier, New York 31 2874 177 45 6 1.41 Keith MacRae, Portland 20 1714 85 29 4 1.52 Jim Brown, Washington 31 2872 171 49 8 1.54 Bob Rigby, Montreal 32 2980 185 52 4 1.57 Jack Brand, Seattle 23 2024 102 36 5 1.60 Most Valuable Player: Giorgio Chinaglia, New York Cosmos Coach of the Year: Willy Roy, Chicago Sting Rookie of the Year: Joe Morrone, Tulsa Roughnecks NASL All-Star Team - 1st Team G - Jan van Beveren, Fort Lauderdale Strikers D - Frantz Mathieu, Chicago Sting D - Wim Rijsbergen, New York Cosmos D - Peter Nogly, Edmonton Drillers D - John Gorman, Tampa Bay Rowdies M - Teofilo Cubillas, Fort Lauderdale Strikers M - Vladislav Bogicevic, New York Cosmos M - Arno Steffenhagen, Chicago Sting F - Giorgio Chinaglia, New York Cosmos F - Brian Kidd, Atlanta Chiefs F - Gordon Hill, Montreal Manic
The NASL Indoor Season finally went full throttle in 1980-81. All teams except for the Cosmos and Philadelphia took part. Reception was mixed. Atlanta averaged over 10,000 fans per game, but Chicago fell somewhat from their successful initial season. In a first, a franchise moved DURING the season, as the New England Tea Men moved to Jacksonville after they had played two road games. Other teams drew poorly, but overall, the league finished with over 6,000 per game.
In an unusual development, the National Labor relations board managed to secure an injustcion against the league which in effect prohibited Canadian teams from playing in the US and vice versa. With days to go before the season, the league threw out their schedule and drew a new one up in five days, which relegated all the canadian teams to one division. As a result, the labor issues could be put off until the playoffs ensued.Surprisingly, some teams who were successful outdoors did not do so well in the arena. California won a close race in the Southern division, and the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers completely fell apart. Part of this can be attributable to the absence of a number of major international stars who bypassed the indoor season. In addition, a number of other players were already committed to the Major Indoor Soccer League. The Vancouver Whitecaps were not affected by this talent drain, as they won their division, but the entire Western Division finished below .500. This caused some worry for the se teams for the outdoor season, but also pointed out the imbalances that could result when one didn't know who was going to be available to suit up. Overall, the season did fairly well, but overall, the NASL, despite its wide field of teams, was definitely a weaker version of the MISL, which showed a remarkable surge in their second season, with genuine fan enthusiasm, partially helped by the fact that a fair number of their teams did not have NASL competition distracting fans during the summer.
The playoffs were a considerably smaller priority in the indoor league. Only eight teams qualified, although like the outdoor league, series consisted of two-leg series plus mini-games. The quarterfinals held few surprises with Vancouver, Atlanta, Edmonton and Chicago defeating their underdog rivals, and only the Vancouver series going to a mini-game as the Whitecaps finally put away the California Surf. The big upset of the semifinals was Edmonton Drillers' defeat of the Vancouver Whitecaps in the battle of western Canada. The Sting had a harder go of it, as Chicago needed the mini-game before finally putting down the Chiefs. Edmonton captured their first national title as they defeated Chicago 9-6 and 5-4 for the championship. After the season there were two more franchise shifts as Detroit moved to Washington to become the new Washington Diplomats, and the Philadelphia Fury moved up north to become the Montreal Manic.
Final NASL Indoor League Standings, 1980-81 Before the season, New England moved to Jacksonville, and Memphis moved to Calgary. G W L GF GA GB % Att Eastern Division Atlanta Chiefs 18 13 5 97 75 -- .722 10,287 Tampa Bay Rowdies 18 9 9 126 120 4 .500 5,174 Jacksonville Tea Men 18 8 10 96 102 5 .444 2,631 Ft. Lauderdale Strikers 18 1 17 58 125 12 .056 1,506 Central Division Chicago Sting 18 13 5 146 103 -- .722 6,164 Minnesota Kicks 18 12 6 93 73 1 .667 6,517 Detroit Express 18 7 11 90 106 6 .389 4,649 Southern Division California Surf 18 10 8 104 118 -- .556 5,775 Tulsa Roughnecks 18 9 9 111 113 1 .500 5,288 Dallas Tornado 18 7 11 110 125 3 .389 4,261 San Diego Sockers 18 6 12 106 121 4 .333 4,912 Northern Division Vancouver Whitecaps 18 11 7 91 96 -- .611 5,325 Edmonton Drillers 18 10 8 128 109 1 .556 3,968 Calgary Boomers 18 10 8 100 94 1 .556 4,672 Toronto Blizzard 18 5 13 101 121 6 .278 5,702 Western Division Los Angeles Aztecs 18 11 17 118 99 -- .611 3,446 Portland Timbers 18 10 18 110 93 1 .556 5,232 San Jose Earthquakes 18 10 18 118 115 1 .556 5,499 Seattle Sounders 18 9 9 106 98 2 .500 6,751 1st Round: Atlanta defeated Minnesota 10-8, 5-4 (OT) Chicago defeated Portland 6-2, 8-7 (OT) Edmonton defeated Los Angeles 8-3, 10-6 Vancouver defeated California 0-3, 8-5 (4-0 MG) Semi-Finals: Edmonton defeated Vancouver 9-7 and 6-4 Chicago defeated Atlanta 8-3, 5-9 (4-2 MG) CHAMPIONSHIP: Edmonton defeated Chicago 9-6, 5-4. Leading Scorers GP G A TP Karl-Heinz Granitza, Chicago 15 42 27 111 Kai Haaskivi, Edmonton 18 34 43 111 Julie Veee, San Diego 18 40 28 108 Chris Dangerfield, Los Angeles 16 35 12 82 Oscar Fabbiani, Tampa Bay 16 31 15 77 George Best, San Jose 16 25 27 77 Keith Furphy, Atlanta 18 32 12 76 Charlie Fakjus, Chicago 17 18 36 72 Rob Presntive, Toronto 18 28 14 70 Steve Wegerle, Tampa Bay 18 25 20 70 Craig Allen, California 18 24 21 69 Stuart Lee, Portland 18 27 14 68 Pato Margetic, Detroit 15 25 15 65 Drew Ferguson, Edmonton 17 19 25 63 Juan Carlos Molina, Calgary 17 16 31 63 Wolfgang Rausch, Dallas 17 22 18 62 Steve David, San Jose 18 25 11 61 Mike Stankovic, Dallas 16 24 13 61 David Bradford, Detroit 17 22 16 60 Pilo Garcia, Los Angeles 18 22 16 60 Jeff Bourne, Seattle 17 21 18 60 Leading Goalkeepers (Min. 540 minutes to qualify) G Min SHT Svs GA GAA Tino Lettieri, Minnesota 14 828 301 212 50 3.62 Lou Cioffi, Atlanta 16 912 622 271 58 3.82 Bill Mishalow, Chicago 14 757 434 202 59 4.08 Mick Poole, Chicago 18 1110 812 310 93 5.03 Darryl Wallace, Calgary 16 931 408 262 80 5.16 Mike Ivanow, Seattle 15 913 683 206 79 5.19 Zeljko Bilecki, Los Angeles 18 560 426 130 49 5.26 Broce Grobbelaar, Vancouver 9 548 224 176 48 5.26 John Baretta, Edmonton 18 1071 497 400 97 5.44 Gene DuChateau, Det/Tulsa 15 880 489 211 82 5.69 Biagoje Tamindzic, Toronto 10 653 300 178 63 5.79 Kevin Keelan, Jacksonville 13 734 462 216 73 5.97 Winston DuBose, Tampa Bay 9 552 405 120 56 6.09
The ASL embarked on considerable changes this season. Travel expenses were playing havoc with many of the weaker clubs. As a result, all of the west coast franchises folded after 1981. The New York Eagles were revived, and four more teams were added. Two of these were the Rochester Flash and the Detroit Express, which replaced teams recently departing the NASL. The others were the Carolina Lightnin', based in Charlotte, and the New England Sharks, operating out of Providence, RI. The success of these new franchises was closely tied to the success of their ownership. In the "Liberty" Conference, the Eagles did respectably, but New England was a complete failure, winning only 4 games and folding quickly thereafter. In the "Freedom" Conference, the three new teams all did quite well, while the veteran Cleveland Cobras languished in the cellar.
The league had basically given up in the battle for marquee players; fighting the NASL was hard enough but with the added competition of the MISL, it was simply too much. Ironically, ASL attendance averaged nearly 4,000 this season, its best ever, but the playing field had changed drastically and the stakes were much higher. In an effort to strengthen itself, the ASL seriously pursued a merger with the Western Soccer League, a semi-pro outfit which had teams from Los Angeles, Sacramento, Spokane, Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, among others. They were to form the Union Soccer League in 1982 with teams along both coasts, but the merger fell through, and the Western Soccer League disappeared shortly thereafter.
The veteran New York United narrowly beat the Pennsylvania Stoners for the Liberty Conference title, while the new Carolina Lightnin' took the Freedom Conference. Carolina and Detroit took their respective play-in rounds, Pennsylvania and United having won byes on their league best records. The semifinals went to the division champs, and Carolina and new York went to the championship game. There, the expansion Lightnin' defeated New York United 2-1 to win the title.
After the season, both New York teams folded, as did the hapless New England Sharks. But the league wasn't ready to give up. The owners selected former franchise owner Prenk Curanaj as the new league Chairman of the Board, and he immediately began to scout virgin territory to bring the league back to size. The new promised land was the American South, which had been poorly served in the past, but had a rapidly growing young population and was beginning to make inroads into professional hockey. For the time being, at least, the future looked bright, and the ASL would have a southern flavor.
Final League Standings, 1981 Before the season, New England, Carolina, Detroit and Rochester were added. New York Eagles were reactivated. G W T L GF GA PTS Liberty Conference New York United 28 19 4 5 53 28 154 Pennsylvania Stoners 28 17 7 4 51 28 146 New York Eagles 28 13 2 13 57 49 116 New England Sharks 28 4 0 24 16 41 35 Freedom Conference Carolina Lightnin' 28 16 3 9 46 31 127 Detroit Express 28 15 2 11 58 46 125 Rochester Flash 28 11 5 12 38 51 100 Cleveland Cobras 28 5 1 22 33 78 56 1st Round Detroit defeated New York Eagles, 4-1 Carolina defeated Rochester, 2-0 Semi-Finals: Carolina defeated Pennsylvania, 3-1, 1-2 New York United defeated Detroit, 1-1, 2-1 CHAMPIONSHIP: Carolina defeated New York United, 2-1. After the season, New York United, New York Eagles, and New England folded. Leading Scorers GP G A TP Bill Bolevic, New York Eagles 26 25 9 59 Andy Chapman, Cleveland 25 22 10 54 Mike Mancini, Detroit 26 16 10 42 Redmond Lee, New York United 23 14 10 38 Tony Suarez, Carolina 22 15 4 34 Mike Laschev, Rochester 20 13 5 31 Lesh Shrkeli, New York Eagles 25 7 15 29 Clyde Watson, Pennsylvania 24 11 2 24 Brian Tinnion, Detroit 22 9 6 24 Zoran Savic, Cleveland 25 9 5 23 Elson Seale, Pennsylvania 23 9 4 22 Mal Roche, Carolina 22 8 5 21 Ron Atanasio, Detroit 24 6 9 21 Walter Schlothauer, Detroit 29 6 8 20 Solomon Hilton, New York United 23 7 5 19 Leading Goalkeepers (2000 mins. needed to qualify) Min Svs GA SO Record GAA Tom Reynolds, Pennsylvania 2030 157 20 8 12-3-6 0.89 George Taratsides, NY United 2197 125 28 4 15-5-4 1.15 Scott Manning, Carolina 2378 143 31 6 13-9-3 1.17 Hranislav Hadzitonic, NY Eagles 2274 199 38 5 11-11-2 1.50 Tad DeLorm, Detroit 2032 107 37 4 11-9-2 1.64 Most Valuable Player: Bill Bolevic, New York Eagles Coach of the Year: Jim McGeough, New York United Rookie of the Year: Tony Suarez, Carolina Lightnin' ASL 1st All-Star Team: G - George Taratsides, New York United D - Chris Tyson, New York United D - Ken McDonald, Pennsylvania Stoners D - Jeff Tipping, Pennsylvania Stoners D - Dennis Mepham, Rochester Flash M - Don Tobin, Carolina Lightnin' M - Steve Westbrook, Detroit Express M - John Dolinsky, Rochester Flash F - AndyChapman, Detroit Express F - Bill Bolevic, New York Eagles F - Tony Suarez, Carolina Lightnin'
The MISL opened its third season with some new faces and some old teams in new places. Houston became the Baltimore Blast, and Detroit became the San Francisco Fog. Meanwhile, the Chicago Horizon opened play in the new Rosemont Horizon in the suburbs, and the Denver Avalanche and Phoenix Inferno were added. The league was charting out territory in cities that did not have NASL franchises. This appeared to be a good move as attendance grew markedly this year. The teams were aligned into three divisions and the season expanded to 40 games. The MISL inked a two year television deal with the USA cable network.
On the field, defending champion New York Arrows continued their dominance, with an astounding 35 wins against only five losses. Steve Zungul scored an unprecedented 108 goals and 152 points, and was on his way to becoming one of the most successful players in league history The Arrows recorded an unprecedented 19 game winning streak. The Blast took off in their new digs, finishing over 500 albeit 19 games behind the league-leading Arrows. The St. Louis Steamer, buoyed by their enthusiastic crowds, led the league in attendance, and easily took the Central Division title, and appeared to be a dynasty in the making. Wichita took the west by 6 games, although their division, with two expansion clubs, was considerably weaker. The Chicago Horizon finished a decent .500, but financial problems forced the club to fold at season's end. Philadelphia and Hartford meanwhile, continued to languish. Attendance surged to 1,641,410 this season, averaging almost 7,000 per game.
The playoffs saw few surprises in the first round, with Baltimore, Wichita, St. Louis and New York advancing, although three of the four series went to the full three games. There were no romps. From this point on, the playoffs were single elimination, and in a unique setup, the entire semifinal series was hosted by St. Louis. Before 16,236 raging fans, the Arrows made their case resoundingly, thrashing Baltimore Blast 10-1. The fans must have been tired at that point as the hometown favorites barely defeated Wichita 8-7 after being forced to the shootout. The championship was a true battle of the titans, with a head to head match that wound down to a 6-5 victory by the New York Arrows over the St. Louis Steamer.
The league continued establishing their franchise base after the conclusion of the season. San Francisco moved to Kansas City where they became the Comets, Hartford moved to Memphis and the Pittsburgh Spirit were reinstated. The league had planned to revive the Chicago Horizon after their end-of-season suspension, but Lee Stern, owner of theNASL Chicago Sting paid the league to not put a franchise in the city. Instead, the MISL awarded a new franchise to the meadowlands Arena, the New Jersey Rockets, who would play just across the river from New York City. Sharing space with the NBA's New Jersey Nets, the Rockets would create a new cross-town rivalry with the New York Arrows. Thus, the MISL headed into the 1981-82 season with a very strong roster of teams, covering most major markets in the country, a remarkable phase of growth after only three seasons.
Final MISL League Standings, 1980-81 Before the season, Houston moved to Baltimore and Detroit moved to San Francisco. Chicago, Denver and Phoenix were added. Pittsburgh was inactive this season. G W L GF GA GB % Atlantic Division New York Arrows 40 35 5 285 176 -- .875 Baltimore Blast 40 21 19 182 190 14 .525 Philadelphia Fever 40 18 22 212 245 17 .450 Hartford Hellions 40 13 27 165 192 22 .325 Central Division St. Louis Steamer 40 25 15 222 196 -- .625 Cleveland Force 40 21 19 209 214 4 .525 Chicago Horizon 40 20 20 216 187 5 .500 Buffalo Stallions 40 20 20 246 210 5 .500 Western Division Wichita Wings 40 23 17 228 181 -- .575 Phoenix Inferno 40 17 23 210 254 6 .425 Denver Avalanche 40 16 24 174 217 7 .400 San Francisco Fog 40 11 29 175 271 12 .275 1st Round: Baltimore defeated Cleveland 6-5(OT), 1-7, 5-2. Wichita defeated Chicago 3-4, 6-4, 8-6. St. Louis defeated Buffalo 6-4, 6-5. New York defeated Phoenix 6-10, 10-6, 6-5. Semi-Finals: New York defeated Baltimore 10-1. St. Louis defeated Wichita 8-7(SO). CHAMPIONSHIP: New York defeated St. Louis 6-5. After the season, Chicago folded. All-Star Game: Western division defeated Eastern Division 8-5. (At Madison Square Garden, NYC, att: 13,170. MVP = Adrian Brooks) Leading Scorers GP G A TP Steve Zungul, New York 40 108 44 152 Branko segota, New York 35 38 45 83 Charlie Cordas, Buffalo 36 40 41 81 Vic Davidson, Phoenix 30 50 29 79 Iubo Petrovic, Buffalo 39 44 33 77 Joe Fink, Philadelphia 39 51 18 69 Fred Grgurev, New York 37 44 25 69 Jorgen Kristensen, Wichita 38 14 52 66 Don Ebert, St. Louis 40 46 19 65 Dave MacWilliams, Philadelphia 37 38 27 65 Tony Giavin, St. Louis 32 37 27 64 Ian Anderson, Cleveland 37 30 31 61 Johnny Moore, San Francisco 40 32 29 61 Luis Alberto, New York 37 24 36 60 Graham Pyle, Cleveland 33 38 20 58 Kevin Kewley, Wichita 39 26 32 58 LEADING GOALKEEPERS (Min. 900 minutes to qualify) GP Min. Shts Svs GA W-L GAA Enzo Dipede, Chicago 16 931 787 256 63 9-6 4.06 Mike Dowler, Wichita 28 1616 1270 589 111 16-12 4.12 Sepp Gantenhammer, Baltimore 33 1862 1186 501 130 17-14 4.19 Zoltan Toth, New York 22 1005 847 380 73 14-2 4.36 Shep Messing, New York 27 1411 1019 482 103 21-3 4.36 Richard But, Hartford 39 2262 1770 710 175 12-25 4.64 Slobo Iljevski, St. Louis 33 1878 1720 786 148 21-11 4.66 Scott Manning, Buffalo 29 1360 942 375 112 13-12 4.87 Gary Allison, Chicago 25 1509 1339 445 124 11-14 4.93 Cliff Brown, Cleveland 33 1680 1502 557 147 16-14 5.25 Jim May, Buffalo 23 1012 829 321 89 6-8 5.28 Most Valuable Player: Steve Zungul, New York Arrows Coach of the Year: Don Popovic, New York Arrows MISL Scoring Champion: Steve Zungul, New York Arrows MISL Pass Master (most Assists): Jorgen Kristiansen, Wichita Wings Goalkeeper of the Year: Enzo DiPede, Chicago Horizon Rookie of the Year: Don Ebert, St. Louis Steamers Championship Series Player of the Year: Steve Zungul, New York Arrows All-MISL team: G - Shep Messing, New York Arrows D - Dave D'Errico, New York Arrows D - Steve Pecher, St. Louis Steamer D - Ian Anderson, Cleveland Force M - Tony Glavin, St. Louis Steamer F - Steve Zungul, New York Arrows F - Branko Segota, New York Arrows
The senior national team was inactive this year. Coach Walter Chyzowych, in his final year, focused his activities in developing the youth team. To prepare for the World Youth Cup 1981, Chyzowych took the squad to a tournament in Brazil in January, followed by the Bellinzona Tournament in Switzerland in April where they finished with 1 win, 1 draw and 2 losses, and the Havelange Tournament in Mexico (swept in three games), and finally the festival of Sports in Syracuse in July. This was topped off with two weeks of preparation before the Youth Cup in Australia. The team consisted mostly of college students, along with Darryl gee of the cosmos, Peter Jianette of the New York Arrows of the MISL, and two other indoor professionals.
At the U-20 World Youth Cup itself, the team didn't do well; losing to Uruguay 3-0, drawing 1-1 with Qatar and being eliminated 4-0 by Poland. This was followed by the Great Wall of China tour, in which they beat Australia 2-1, before losing to China 5-1 and Egypt 1-0.
1981 Totals: 0W, 0D, 0L (Full internationals only)
New York Cosmos February 16, 1981 - March 15, 1981. Record: 4 wins, 4 losses, 1 draw 2/16/81 New York Cosmos 2 at Deportivo Morón (Argentina) 2 2/21/81 New York Cosmos 4 at Cipoletti (Argentina) 1 2/22/81 New York Cosmos 9 at Boca Bariloche (Argentina) 1 2/25/81 New York Cosmos 0 at Colo-Colo (Chile) 1 3/3/81 New York Cosmos 4 at Penarol (Uruguay) 3 3/5/81 New York Cosmos 1 at Sao Paulo (Brazil) 3 3/8/81 New York Cosmos 5 at Paraguayan National Team 2 3/11/81 New York Cosmos 0 at Guadalajara (Mexico) 1 3/15/81 New York Cosmos 2 at Club America (Mexico) 4 Toronto Blizzard March 11, 1981 - March 21, 1981. Record: 4 wins, 0 losses, 0 draws 3/11/81 Toronto Blizzard 1 at Somerset Trojans (Bermuda) 0 3/16/81 Toronto Blizzard 2 at Pembroke-Hamilton Club (Ber) 0 3/18/81 Toronto Blizzard 5 at Somerset Trojans (Bermuda) 2 3/21/81 Bermuda Selects 2 at Toronto Blizzard 6 Vancouver Whitecaps March 6, 1981 - March 18, 1981. Record: 1 win, 3 losses, 1 draw 3/6/81 Vancouver Whitecaps 1 at University of Dublin (Ireland1 3/9/81 Vancouver Whitecaps 0 at Athlone Town (Ireland) 1 3/13/81 Vancouver Whitecaps 4 at Wycombe Wanderers (England) 0 3/16/81 Vancouver Whitecaps 0 at Watford (England) 1 3/18/81 Vancouver Whitecaps 1 at Sheffield Wednesday (England)2 Tulsa Roughnecks March 17, 1981 - March 25, 1981. Record: 3 wins, 0 losses, 0 draws 3/17/81 Tulsa Roughnecks 3 at Somerset Trojans (Bermuda) 0 3/21/81 Tulsa Roughnecks 2 at North Village Red Devils 0 3/25/81 Tulsa Roughnecks 3 at Pembroke-Hamilton Club (Ber) 0 Ft. Lauderdale Strikers September 30, 1981 - October 14, 1981. Record: 1 win, 2 draws, 4 losses. 9/30/81 Ft. Lauderdale Strikers 2 at Norwich City (England) 2 10/2/81 Ft. Lauderdale Strikers 3 at Borrussia Brandaachen (Germ 0 10/4/81 Ft. Lauderdale Strikers 0 at Oldenbury (Germany) 1 10/7/81 Ft. Lauderdale Strikers 0 at Salonika (Greece) 1 10/10/81 Ft. Lauderdale Strikers 1 at Rodos (Greece) 2 10/12/81 Ft. Lauderdale Strikers ? at AEK Athens (Greece) 4 10/14/81 Ft. Lauderdale Strikers 0 at Olympiakos (Greece) 0 New York Cosmos October 4, 1981 - October 22, 1981. Record: 1 win, 2 draws, 3 losses. 10/4/81 New York Cosmos 1 at Canadian Nat. Team 1 in Calgary 10/7/81 New York Cosmos 0 at Canadian Nat. Team 4 in Vancouver 10/10/81 New York Cosmos 6 at Valur FC (Iceland) 2 10/13/81 New York Cosmos 2 at Borussia Dortmund (Germany) 4 10/18/81 New York Cosmos 1 at A.C. Milan (Italy) 1 10/22/81 New York Cosmos 1 at Lille (France) 7 San Jose Earthquakes October 5, 1980 - October 13, 1981. 10/5/81 San Jose Earthquakes at Hibernian (Scotland) 10/7/81 San Jose Earthquakes at Linfield Of Ireland 10/11/81 San Jose Earthquakes at Motherwell 10/12/81 San Jose Earthquakes at Brentford 10/13/81 San Jose Earthquakes at Exeter City Vancouver Whitecaps October 7, 1981 - October 18, 1981. Record: 1 win, 1 draw, 3 losses. 10/7/81 Vancouver Whitecaps 0 at Ajax Amsterdam (Netherlands 4 10/9/81 Vancouver Whitecaps 2 at Malmo (Sweden) 0 10/11/81 Vancouver Whitecaps 2 at Nottingham Forest (England) 2 10/14/81 Vancouver Whitecaps 1 at Napoli (Italy) 3 10/18/81 Vancouver Whitecaps 0 at Avellino (Italy) 2
In 1981, the NCAA Division III tournament was reorganized. Instead of giving byes to stronger teams, all 24 teams started in a single round. After the second round, two teams received byes, with the remaining playing an additional round.
In the NCAA Division 1 tournament, third round action saw Alabama A&M defeat West Virginia 2-1 in overtime. Philadelphia Textile defeated Indiana 1-0, Connecticut defeated LIU-Brooklyn 3-0, and Eastern Illinois defeated San Diego State by forfeit. In the semifinals, Alabama A&M defeated Philadelphia textile 3-2 on penalty kicks, and Connecticut defeated Eastern Illinois 2-1. The championships were held in Stanford California. In the 3rd place game, Eastern Illinois defeated Philadelphia Textile 4-2. In the championship game, held on December 6, Connecticut defeated Alabama A&M 2-1 in overtime to claim the national title.
In the NCAA Division 2 tournament, third round action saw Missouri-St. Louis defeat Lock Haven 1-0. Tampa defeated Rollins 1-0, California State at Los Angeles defeated California State at Santa Clara 2-1, and Southern Connecticut State defeated New Haven 1-0. In the semifinals, Tampa defeated Missouri-St. Louis 2-0, and California State Los Angeles defeated Southern Connecticut State 3-0. The championship was held in new Haven Connecticut. In the 3rd place game, Southern Connecticut State defeated Missouri-St. Louis 3-1. the championship was held on November 28, and Tampa defeated California State Los Angeles 1-0 in overtime for the national title.
In the NCAA Division 3 tournament, third round action saw Glassboro State (now Rowan) defeat Cortland State 1-0 in overtime. Brandeis defeated Salem State 2-0, Scranton defeated Wheaton, IL 1-0, and Ohio Weslayen defeated Bethany WV 3-2. In the semifinals, Glassboro State defeated Brandeis 1-0, and Scranton defeated Ohio Weslayen 2-1 in overtime. The championship was held in Elizabethtown, PA. In the third place game, Brandeis defeated Ohio Weslayen 4-2. In the title match, held on November 21, Glassboro State defeated Scranton 2-1 after four overtimes.
AIAW Women's National Champion: North Carolina
NAIA Championship: 1981 Quincy defeated Alderson-Braoddus 4-1.
NJCAA Championship: Florissant Valley Community College 2, Miami-Dade North 0
NCCAA Championship: Messiah 2, Cedarville 1
Coaches' Final Division 1 Poll: 1. Connecticut 2. Alabama A&M 3. Eastern Illinois 4. Philadelphia Textile 5. Indiana 6. LIU-Brookyn 7. San Francisco 8. Clemson 9. West Virginia 10. St. Louis College All-Americans: G - Skip Gilbert, Vermont D - Dan Canter, Penn State D - Richard Chinapoo, LIU-Brooklyn D - Tom Groark, Southern Illinois D - Tom McDonald, Philadelphia Textile D - Barry Mix, Columbia F - Armando Betancourt, Indiana F - Pedro DeBrito, Connecticut F - John Hayes, St. Louis F - Damien Kelly, Eastern Illinois F - Agyeman Prempeh, Eastern Illinois Hermann Trophy: Armando Betancourt, Indiana NSCAA Coach of the Year: Schellas Hyndman, Eastern Illinois
1981 US Open Cup Final: On June 28, Los Angeles Maccabee defeated Brooklyn Dodgers (Italians) (CSL) 5-1.
1981 National Amateur Cup Final: On June 21, St. Louis Busch Bavarian defeated Philadelphia Bayern 3-2.
James P. McGuire (National Junior Men's) Cup: Scott Gallagher, St. Louis
Athena (National Junior Women's) Cup: D'feeters Green, Dallas
CONCACAF Nations Cup: This tournament also served as the final wound of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. The U.S. did not participate, having been eliminated in the first World Cup qualification round. Honduras finished first in the round robin, thereby qualifying for the World Cup.
CONCACAF Champions Cup: No USA clubs participated this year. In the final, Transvaal (Suriname) played Atlético Marte (El Savvador) 2-1 and were declared champion.
U-20 World Youth Cup: The USA finished last in their group (see details in National team section above.) West Germany beat Qatar 4-0 in the final.
National Soccer Hall of Fame: In 1981, George Craggs, Harry John Saunders and Erwin Single were inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame. Richard Jamison was inducted into the National Intercollegiate Soccer Officials Association Hall of Fame.
Last update: June 6, 2004
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