Major Indoor Soccer League Programs
This rare MISSILE Magazine program comes from the heyday of the old Major Indoor Soccer League (1978-1992). Indoor soccer reigned supreme on the U.S. soccer scene in 1985. There was no outdoor professional league in the entire country at the time. And the greatest indoor player of them all was Steve Zungul, the “Lord of All Indoors”, pictured on the cover of the evening’s game program.
Zungul was the all-time leading scorer in the sport in 1985, and winner of the league’s MVP in five of the six seasons he had competed in. Zungul was also the straw that stirred the drink for two different indoor dynasties. The New York Arrows won four consecutive MISL titles with Zungul as their leader from 1978 to 1982. When the cash-starved Arrows dealt Zungul away for financial relief in 1983, their hegemony came to an immediate end.
The San Diego Sockers had already captured three indoor titles in the MISL and its defunct rival the North American Soccer League when Zungul arrived in 1984. He made the team even more dominant (a team-best 37-11 record in the 1984-85 campaign) and led them to a fourth title in 1985, picking up his 5th MISL MVP award along the way.
The Wichita Wings hosted Zungul and the Sockers for this early season clash in November 1985. A near-sellout crowd of 9,051 packed the Kansas Coliseum for the Wings’ second home game of the year. The Wings had never beaten San Diego in eight previous tries, which included losing a three-game sweep in the 1983 MISL playoffs. That didn’t seem likely to change, as the Sockers jumped out to an early 4-0 lead.
But the Wings defense managed to contain Zungul, holding him to just one goal on the night. Wichita’s Danish striker Erik Rasmussen led the comeback, tying a team record with 5 goals and adding two more assists. The two clubs combined for 20 goals – the most in a Wichita game all season – but the Wings got the best of it, beating the Sockers for the very first time 11-9.
Two months later, Sockers owner Bob Bell sold Zungul to the Tacoma Stars for $200,000 in midseason. Zungul finished the 1985-86 season in Tacoma as the league leader in both assists (60) and total points (115) and won his sixth Most Valuable Player Award. Erik Rasmussen of Wichita led the MISL in goals with 67.
Unlike the Arrows dynasty, however, the Sockers did not collapse after selling off the greatest player in the sport. The Sockers won their fourth straight indoor title in 1986 and would add another in 1988 before Zungul rejoined San Diego for the 1988-89 season.