Lively Tales About Dead Teams

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March 10, 1985 – Minnesota Strikers vs. Chicago Sting

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Minnesota Strikers vs. Chicago Sting
March 10, 1985
The Met Center
Attendance: 5,359

Major Indoor Soccer League Programs
52 pages

Sharp game program from the heyday of the Major Indoor Soccer League.  The Minnesota Strikers hosted the Chicago Sting at the old Met Center in Bloomington, Minnesota on the evening of March 10th, 1985.  A modest crowd of 5,359 watched the Strikers come back and defeat the Sting 6-4, courtesy of a 4th quarter hat trick by Liberian-born midfielder Ben Collins (who only scored 10 other goals all season).

The Strikers never really caught on in Minnesota.  The club was owned by the Robbie Family of Florida.  Joe Robbie was famous as the owner of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.  His wife Elizabeth and son Tim ran the Strikers, who had their glory days as an outdoor club – the Fort Lauderdale Strikers – in the North American Soccer League from 1977 to 1983.  The Robbie’s moved the Strikers to Minneapolis in November 1983 and played one summer season of “outdoor” soccer at the indoor Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in 1984.  But the NASL folded and the Strikers accepted an invitation to join the MISL in the winter of 1984-85.

Collins played just the one full season for the Strikers and this match was likely his finest moment.  In November 1985, Minnesota traded Collins to the Sting, who perhaps remembered this night when he single-handedly beat them in the final frame.  Collins remained a key performer in the MISL for the rest of its existence until 1992, when the league folded and Collins retired.

To their credit, the Robbie’s muddled along in Minnesota for four seasons, although the Strikers were annually one of the league’s weakest draws.  The exception was the spring of 1986, when the club made a run to the MISL Championship Series and drew several capacity or near capacity crowds at the Met Center.  The Strikers ultimately lost that series to the Sockers and the bandwagon fans faded away over the club’s final two seasons.  The Robbie family threw in the towel in June 1988, folding the club at the MISL annual postseason meetings.

From 1978 to 1985, the MISL published a national magazine format game program called MISSILE.  The cover story of each issue was created at the national office, so the program art often had nothing to do with the game in question.  In this case, the cover subject was St. Louis Steamers goalkeeper Slobo Ilijevski.  Ilijevski was one of the indoor game’s all-time great keepers and played professionally into his 40′s.   Sadly, Ilijevski passed away at the age of 58 in July 2008 after suffering a ruptured aorta while playing in an over-the-hill league game in Bellingham, Washington.