Major Indoor Soccer League Programs
This late season Major Indoor Soccer League match between Eastern Division rivals the Cleveland Force and Baltimore Blast drew a huge Sunday night crowd of 18,267 to the old Richfield Coliseum. Hard to believe today, but the sport of indoor soccer really was a huge draw in a handful of cities in the early 1980’s. The 1983-84 season was the year that attendance for the Cleveland Force really exploded. The team averaged 13,675 per match and outdrew their Richfield Coliseum co-tenant – NBA’s sad sack Cleveland Cavaliers – by 120,000 fans.
With that kind of atmosphere the Force were tough to beat at home. They went 18-6 at the Coliseum en route to a 31-17 record in 1983-84. The Force featured two of the top three scorers in the league in Kai Haaskivi and Craig Allen. But the Baltimore Blast were even better. Captain Dave MacWilliams (pictured on the night’s game program) led the Blast to a league-best 34-14 record. Serbian forward Stan Stamenkovic nudged out Allen and Haaskivi for the league scoring title.
The Blast would frustrate the Force and the big crowd on this night, as they would all season. The Force got on the board first on a Peter Millar goal and outshot the visitors 29-16. But the Blast made their shots count, with goals from cover boy MacWilliams, Stamenkovic and Pat Ercoli to eke out a 3-2 victory.
The teams would meet again a month later in the MISL playoff semi-finals with the Blast sweeping the Force in a best-of-five series. It was the second of five straight seasons from 1983 to 1987 that the Force went deep into the playoffs, only to be eliminated in the semi-final series (three times at the hands of Baltimore). The Blast, meanwhile, went on to win their first and only MISL championship in the spring of 1984, defeating the St. Louis Steamers in the finals.