One of the all-time great matches in the history of the Tulsa Roughnecks (1978-1985) club. The New York Cosmos brought all of their international stars to Oklahoma for this early season 1980 match – Alberto, Beckenbauer, Chinaglia. 30,822 fans turned out, a Tulsa club record which would never be surpassed.
The match was physical. Roughnecks coach Charlie Mitchell instructed his players to get after the Cosmos’ aging stars. Tulsa imposed their style on the match. Referee Dante Maglio whistled 59 fouls and issued five yellow cards in the match. The Cosmos got few clean chances on Roughnecks goalkeeper Gene DuChateau, who needed to make only one save in the match.
Nevertheless, the Cosmos got on the board first, when a bad clearance by Billy Gazonas led to Giorgio Chinaglia’s 99th league goal and a 1-0 New York lead in 24th minute. The Cosmos took the lead into the locker room at the intermission.
But in the second half, Tulsa’s Northern Irish internationals Billy Caskey and Victor Moreland took over. The Roughnecks tied the match in the 62nd minute, when Moreland punched in a corner kick from Alan Woodward amidst a scrum in front of the net (the goal was initially credited to Caskey). Caskey got the game winner in the 79th minute, beating New York ‘keeper Hubert Birkenmeier one-on-one after a Cosmos’ defensive lapse. The Roughnecks held on for the 2-1 upset.
After the match, Tulsa sweeper Jo Edvaldsson shared his assessment with Randy Krehbiel of The Tulsa World:
“They’re superstars,” said the Icelandic international. “They’re not used to playing from behind. They have seven or eight superstars out there. But we have a team of players who care about each other. You didn’t see them going after tackles. We have more character. We deserved to win it.”
The Cosmos and the Roughnecks would meet again in the 1st round of the 1980 NASL playoffs. The Cosmos annihilated Tulsa 11-2 in the two-game series, including a record-shattering 8-1 beating in Game Two that featured seven goals from Chinaglia.
Dodgy pre-game show footage from the Cosmos’ local WOR-TV coverage of the match.
“Rufnex Forced Cosmos Out of Their Orbit”, Randy Krehbiel, The Tulsa World, April 27, 1980