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August 26, 1981 – Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies

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Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies
North American Soccer League Playoffs, Round 1, Game 2
August 26, 1981
Empire Stadium
Attendance: 28,896

North American Soccer League Programs

 

The Tampa Bay Rowdies really had no business in the North American Soccer League playoffs in 1981.  The Rowdies finished last in their division with a losing record of 15-17.  But they snuck into the NASL’s ultra generous playoff format, setting up a rematch of Soccer Bowl ’79  against the powerhouse Vancouver Whitecaps club in the first round.

The Whitecaps looked poised to make another strong Soccer Bowl run in 1981.  They had a prolific and democratic offense.  Vancouver ranked 3rd in the 21-team NASL in goals scored with 74 (trailing only eventual Soccer Bowl finalists Chicago & New York) despite the fact that their leading scorer Carl Valentine ranked just 20th in the league.  The defense, keyed by 2nd Team All-Star Pierce O’Leary, was even better.  The Whitecaps allowed a NASL-low 43 goals in 32 regular season matches.  Englishman Barry Siddall was among the league’s stingiest goalkeepers with a 1.30 goals against average and 6 clean sheets in 24 appearances.

So it was a shock when the Rowdies blitzed Vancouver for a 4-1 victory in Game 1 at Tampa Bay on August 23rd.  Vancouver actually got on the board first, courtesy of a volley from Valentine.  But the Rowdies tied the match late in the first half and stunned the visiting ‘Caps with a three goal barrage in the second.  The best-of-three series now headed back to Vancouver’s Empire Stadium for Game 2 and, if necessary, Game 3.

“We’re a great team,” Siddall told The St. Petersburg Times resolutely after the Game 1 debacle.  “And I guarantee you, things will be different at our place.”

Siddall was right.  The Whitecaps couldn’t score at all three nights later in front of a near sellout at Empire Stadium.  Vancouver organized their defense and controlled the tempo in the first half, but it was the Rowdies that scored against he run of play.  English winger David Moss, playing his only season in America on a loan from Luton Town, beat the Vancouver defensive wall and Barry Siddall from 23 yards out on a free kick in the 28th minute.  Moss had also scored for Tampa in the Game 1 rout.

The Rowdies defense and goalkeeper Kevin “Cat” Keelan blanked Vancouver the rest of the way and Moss’ goal held up in the 1-0 victory.  The stunned Whitecaps went home in the first round for the second straight year.  Tampa’s lack of talent caught up with them in the next round, and they lost to the NASL’s top regular season team, the New York Cosmos in the quarterfinals.

Collector’s note: Angelo DiBernardo of the Cosmos was pictured on the cover of the evening’s KICK Magazine match program (above right).  This was the cover used for all NASL 1st round playoff matches in 1981.

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Written by andycrossley

February 9th, 2014 at 10:21 pm

December 26, 1983 – Chicago Sting vs. New York Cosmos

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Chicago Sting vs. New York Cosmos
December 26, 1983
Chicago Stadium
Attendance: 11,722

North American Soccer League Programs
48 pages

 

“Season Greetings From Your Chicago Sting“…

Great KICK Magazine match day from 30 years ago today, when the Chicago Sting took on their North American Soccer League arch rivals in an indoor soccer matinee at the old Chicago Stadium downtown.  The crowd of 11,722 was the Sting’s largest of the indoor season so far, thanks to the holiday and the box office appeal of the hated New York Cosmos.

Cosmos’ striker Steve Moyers graces the program cover, but it was New York’s Polish indoor specialist Stan Terlecki who carried the afternoon for the visitors, scoring all four of the Cosmos’ goals, including the game winner with under three minutes to play.  The Cosmos won 4-3.  Charlie Fajkus (2 goals) and Ingo Peter scored for the Sting in a losing effort.

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Written by andycrossley

December 27th, 2013 at 12:15 am

March 25, 1979 – New York Cosmos vs. Estudiantes Tecos

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New York Cosmos vs. Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara
March 25, 1979
Kezar Stadium
Attendance: 9,000 (estimated)

North American Soccer League Programs
4 pages

 

Over the past six months or so I’ve pumped an absurd amount of money that should have gone into retirement savings or my baby girl’s college fund into acquiring large chunks of the remarkable estate collection of the late Newark Star-Ledger sportswriter Ike Kuhns.  Kuhns covered all sorts of events, but I’ve been focusing on his meticulous New York Cosmos soccer archives, which probably should have been sent to the National Soccer Hall of Fame, except that the Hall is currently out of business and its collection is currently gathering dust in a storage facility somewhere in North Carolina.

Anyway.  If you’ve been annoyed with the heavy soccer coverage on Fun While It Lasted during the past year – especially the Cosmos – you can blame it almost solely on Ike and his awesome, once-in-a-lifetime collection.  Or you can blame me.  It makes no difference to either of us at this point.

This is one of the cooler finds from Kuhns’ files.  A four-age tabloid newspaper style match program for a March 1979 pre-season exhibition between the Cosmos and Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara (colloquially known as “Tecos”) at San Franscisco’s Kezar Stadium.  I can’t imagine many of these broadsheets survived the walk home from Golden Gate Park that day, let alone 35 years moldering away in somebody’s attic.  Maybe this is the only one – you can download the whole thing at the bottom of the page.

Tecos traces its history back to 1935, but the club only became fully professional in 1971.  Nevertheless, by 1979 they were a competitive team in the Mexican First Division and worthy of facing the Cosmos in this 1979 pre-season tune-up, played before 9,000 or so mostly Mexican-American fans in San Francisco.  And the Tecos held their own on this day, drawing the Cosmos 2-2.  Giorgio Chinaglia scored two in the first half to give the New Yorkers a 2-0 advantage at intermission.  But the Tecos clawed their way back in the second half to earn the tie courtesy of goals by Eladio Vera and David Salas.

In fairness, Cosmos manager Eddie Firmani was without two of his best players – Carlos Alberto and Dennis Tueart – and he started Trinidadian Earl “Spiderman” Carter in goal.  Carter had an awesome nickname but he was also a 9th stringer who literally never played in a North American Soccer League regular season game when it counted.

One last (ultra geeky) curiosity about this match.  The NASL had two Bay Area franchises in 1978.  The San Jose Earthquakes played at Spartan Stadium and the Oakland Stompers lasted just a single season at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.  A month prior to this match the Stompers were sold to Canadian interests and moved to Edmonton, Alberta.  So I was surprised to see the Tecos Game Notes (download them below) printed on Stompers letterhead.  Either the Stompers were due to be the organizational “hosts” of this exhibition before their abrupt move to the Great White North, or else some lone Stompers PR flack was left behind with a few leftover piles of Stompers stationary and he offered to help out with the event promotion.

 

==Downloads==

March 25, 1979 New York Cosmos vs. Tecos Game Program

March 25, 1979 New York Cosmos Game Notes

March 25, 1979 Tecos Roster & Game Notes

March 25, 1979 New York Cosmos vs. Tecos Official Scorer’s Sheet

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Written by andycrossley

October 13th, 2013 at 4:10 am

June 8, 1982 – New York Cosmos vs. A.C. Milan

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New York Cosmos vs. A.C. Milan
June 8, 1982
Giants Stadium
Attendance: 17,896

North American Soccer League Programs
4 pages

 

The New York Cosmos faced Italy’s A.C. Milan at Giants Stadium in June of 1982 as part of the club’s impressive series of international exhibitions during the late 1970′s and early 1980′s.  The Italians kept the pressure on throughout the evening, outshooting the New Yorkers 25-11.  But Cosmos back-up goalkeeper David Brcic was up to the task, recording a clean sheet as New York triumphed 1-0.  It was a rare outdoor appearance for Brcic, who handled most of the starting duties for the Cosmos indoor team during the wintertime, but played in only 19 matches during seven outdoor seasons with the Cosmos between 1978 and 1984.

Steve Hunt scored the lone goal for the Cosmos, beating Milan goalkeeper Ottorino Piotti in the 34th minute.

The crowd of 17,896 had to be considered disappointing for the era.  The Cosmos’ 1982 international exhibition slate at Giants Stadium also included visits from the Peruvian National Team, Nacional of Uruguay, Napoli of Italy and Flamengo of Brazil.  Only the Nacional match drew a smaller crowd than Milan.

 

==Downloads==

June 8, 1982 New York Cosmos vs. A.C. Milan Program

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Written by andycrossley

October 10th, 2013 at 5:58 pm

April 14, 1979 – Atlanta Chiefs vs. New York Cosmos

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Atlanta Chiefs vs. New York Cosmos
April 14, 1979
Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium
Attendance: 10,311

North American Soccer League Programs
130 pages

 

Labor strife hung over the North American Soccer League as the organization opened its twelfth season in April 1979 with a peak membership of 24 clubs.  In 1978 the NASL Player Association (NASLPA) earned certification from the National Labor Relations Board and now it wanted formal recognition from the NASL’s owners.  With the owners stonewalling, the NASLPA called a strike for Saturday, April 14, 1979, the third week of the young season.

It turned into a weird weekend.   The infant NASLPA didn’t hold strong sway over its membership and many players ignored the call to walkout, despite a 252-113 union vote in favor of the strike.  The American players tended to support the strike action more strongly than the NASL’s large contingent of foreign imports, although the foreigners were rattled by threats that they could face deportation is they crossed the picket lines and subverted an American labor dispute. Meanwhile, players on the NASL’s three Canadian-based clubs were prohibited from striking by national law.

In Rochester, all of the Lancers’ American players struck, but the foreigners played, supplemented by scabs from Rochester and New York City amateur leagues.  The Lancers were routed by a full-strength Tulsa Roughnecks squad.  In Memphis, every member of the Rogues except Argentinean forward Ruben Astigarraga walked out.  In Fort Lauderdale, 44-year old Strikers Head Coach Ron Newman put on boots and played in the match to help fill out his depleted roster.  NASL Commissioner Phil Woosnam worked to undermine the strike by lifting the rules prohibiting one-game contracts and intra-league player loans, as well as the rule requiring all teams to play two North Americans on the field at all times.

On Friday the 13th in New Jersey, the NASL’s defending champion New York Cosmos had to decide whether or not to get on the plane to Georgia for Saturday’s scheduled match against the Atlanta Chiefs.  The Cosmos’ NASLPA player rep Bobby Smith, an American and thus a minority on his star-studded club, convinced his teammates to vote 20-2 to observe the strike and not board the bus for the airport.  But, crucially, Smith didn’t persuade the team to disperse after the vote and that gave Cosmos General Manager Krikor Yepremian and Warner Communications Chairman of the Board Steve Ross time to turn the tide against Smith and the NASLPA.  Franz Beckenbauer led the procession of starters onto the bus as Smith and a small group of American reserve players looked on in frustration.  The loss of the influential Cosmos team was a major blow to the NASLPA.

Now there was a game to play.  The sides were reasonably full strength, as the Cosmos had all their starters and only three of Atlanta’s American reserve players (player rep Tommy Lang, Bob Robson and Scott Strasburg) honored the strike.  The Cosmos had the early edge, with English forward Dennis Tueart commanding the attack.  Tueart put New York up 1-0 with a strike in the 38th minute.  Three minutes later, Tueart put another shot on goal and Giorgio Chinaglia tapped in the rebound for a 2-0 Cosmos lead at intermission.

The Chiefs charged back in the second half.  Aggressive Dutch defender Wim Rijsbergen was whistled for a penalty in the 72nd minute and ex-Cosmo Jomo Sono converted for Atlanta to cut the New York lead to 2-1.  It appeared the lead would hold until Atlanta’s Louie Nanchoff stunned the New Yorkers with the equalizing goal at 89:40 with less than 30 seconds left in regulation.

Nanchoff’s last second heroics sent the match to the Shootout, the NASL’s unique variation on penalty kicks to avoid ties.  Each team sent out six shooters, who charged the opposing goalkeeper from 35 yards out, with five seconds to get off a shot.  After the Chiefs and the Cosmos tied in the first round of shootouts, they went to a second series, where Rijsbergen got a chance to atone for his late penalty that let Atlanta back into the game.  Rijsbergen was denied by Chiefs goalkeeper Tad Delorm. But Delorm was called for fouling the Dutchman which resulted in a rare moment – a conventional penalty kick awarded in the midst of the NASL’s weird alternative to penalty kicks.  Rijsbergen converted the winning kick from the penalty spot and the Cosmos escaped from Atlanta with a 3-2 shootout victory on the NASL’s strangest weekend.

As well as the Chiefs’ acquitted themselves against the defending champs, the match must have sounded alarm bells for Chiefs management.  The Chiefs were new to Atlanta in 1979, marking the return of pro soccer to the city after a six-year absence.  The Cosmos were traditionally the league’s strongest draw on the road and the match was only the second home game for Atlanta, when the curiosity factor should still have been high.  Nevertheless, the Chiefs announced barely over 10,000 fans for the match, which was the smallest crowd to watch the Cosmos since a 1976 match in Rochester, New York.   Crowds would remain terrible for the Chiefs for three seasons until the team folded in 1981.

The NASLPA player strike formally ended five days after it began on April 18, 1979, done in partially by the refusal of the influential Cosmos to participate and by the stated disinclination of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service to deport foreign players who crossed the strike line.  To date, the April 13-18, 1979 NASL player strike – such as it was – remains the only work stoppage in American pro soccer.

 

==Downloads==

April 14, 1979 Atlanta Chiefs Game Notes

April 14, 1979 New York Cosmos Game Notes

April 13, 1979 New York Cosmos Travel Itinerary to Atlanta

 

==Links & Sources==

History Lesson: The NASL Strike of 1979” – Kenn Tomasch, Kenn.com.

Offside Remarks: Some lessons from a strike 31 years ago“, Michael Lewis, BigAppleSoccer.com, March 8, 2010

 

==Additional Sources==

“Strike Causes Agony”, Kurt Ericsson,The Bergen Record, April 15, 1979

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