1980-81 MISL Season


By Dave Litterer of The US Soccer History Archives, with supplemental materials by Steve Holroyd and Paul Reeths

The MISL opened its third season with some new faces and some old teams in new places. Houston became the Baltimore Blast, and Detroit became the San Francisco Fog. Meanwhile, the Chicago Horizon opened play in the new Rosemont Horizon in the suburbs of the Windy City, and the Denver Avalanche and Phoenix Inferno were added. The league was charting out territory in cities that did not have NASL franchises. This appeared to be a good move as attendance grew markedly this year. The teams were aligned into three divisions and the season expanded to 40 games. The MISL inked a two year television deal with the USA cable network.

Denny Vaninger, St. Louis SteamersOn the field, the defending champion New York Arrows continued their dominance, with an astounding 35 wins against only five losses. Steve Zungul scored an unprecedented 108 goals and 152 points, and was on his way to becoming one of the most successful players in league history The Arrows recorded an unprecedented 19 game winning streak. The Blast took off in their new digs, finishing over .500, albeit 19 games behind the league-leading Arrows. The St. Louis Steamer, buoyed by their enthusiastic crowds, led the league in attendance, easily took the Central Division title, and appeared to be a dynasty in the making. Wichita took the west by 6 games, although their division, with two expansion clubs, was considerably weaker. The Chicago Horizon finished a decent .500, but financial problems forced the club to fold at season's end. Philadelphia and Hartford, meanwhile, continued to languish. Attendance surged to 1,641,410 this season, averaging almost 7,000 per game.

The playoffs saw few surprises in the first round, with Baltimore, Wichita, St. Louis and New York advancing, although three of the four series went to the full three games. There were no romps. From this point on, the playoffs were single elimination, and in a unique setup, the entire semifinal series was hosted by St. Louis. Before 16,236 raging fans, the Arrows made their case resoundingly, thrashing the Baltimore Blast 10-1. The fans must have been tired at that point as the hometown favorites barely defeated Wichita 8-7 after being forced to the shootout. The championship was a true battle of the titans, with a head to head match that wound down to a 6-5 victory by the New York Arrows over the St. Louis Steamer.

The league continued establishing its franchise base after the conclusion of the season. San Francisco moved to Kansas City where they became the Comets, Hartford moved to Memphis and the Pittsburgh Spirit were reinstated. The league had planned to revive the Chicago Horizon after their end-of-season suspension, but Lee Stern, owner of the NASL Chicago Sting paid the league to not put a franchise in the city. Instead, the MISL awarded a new franchise to the Meadowlands Arena, the New Jersey Rockets, who would play just across the river from New York City. Sharing space with the NBA's New Jersey Nets, the Rockets would create a new cross-town rivalry with the New York Arrows. Thus, the MISL headed into the 1981-82 season with a very strong roster of teams, covering most major markets in the country, a remarkable phase of growth after only three seasons.

San Francisco Fog vs. Buffalo Stallions

1980-81 SEASON
ATLANTIC DIVISION
G
W
L
GF
GA
GB
Pct.
New York Arrows
40
35
5
285
176
--
.875
Baltimore Blast
40
21
19
182
190
14
.525
Philadelphia Fever
40
18
22
212
245
17
.450
Hartford Hellions
40
13
27
165
192
22
.325
CENTRAL DIVISION
St. Louis Steamer
40
25
15
222
196
--
.625
Cleveland Force
40
21
19
209
214
4
.525
Chicago Horizon
40
20
20
216
187
5
.500
Buffalo Stallions
40
20
20
246
210
5
.500
WESTERN DIVISION
Wichita Wings
40
23
17
228
181
--
.575
Phoenix Inferno
40
17
23
210
254
6
.425
Denver Avalanche
40
16
24
174
217
7
.400
San Francisco Fog
40
11
29
175
271
12
.275

1st Round
Baltimore defeated Cleveland 6-5 (OT), 1-7, 5-2
Wichita defeated Chicago 3-4, 6-4, 8-6
St. Louis defeated Buffalo 6-4, 6-5
New York defeated Phoenix 6-10, 10-6, 6-5

Semifinals
New York defeated Baltimore 10-1
St. Louis defeated Wichita 8-7(SO)

Championship
New York defeated St. Louis 6-5

Before the season, Houston moved to Baltimore and Detroit moved to San Francisco. Chicago, Denver and Phoenix were added. Pittsburgh was inactive this season.

After the season, Chicago folded.

All-Star Game:  Western division defeated Eastern Division 8-5.  
(At Madison Square Garden, NYC, att: 13,170.  MVP = Adrian Brooks)

Leading Scorers                GP   G   A   TP

Steve Zungul, New York         40 108  44  152
Branko segota, New York        35  38  45   83
Charlie Cordas, Buffalo        36  40  41   81
Vic Davidson, Phoenix          30  50  29   79
Iubo Petrovic, Buffalo         39  44  33   77
Joe Fink, Philadelphia         39  51  18   69
Fred Grgurev, New York         37  44  25   69
Jorgen Kristensen, Wichita     38  14  52   66
Don Ebert, St. Louis           40  46  19   65
Dave MacWilliams, Philadelphia 37  38  27   65
Tony Giavin, St. Louis         32  37  27   64
Ian Anderson, Cleveland        37  30  31   61
Johnny Moore, San Francisco    40  32  29   61
Luis Alberto, New York         37  24  36   60
Graham Pyle, Cleveland         33  38  20   58
Kevin Kewley, Wichita          39  26  32   58

LEADING GOALKEEPERS   (Min. 900 minutes to qualify)

                             GP   Min. Shts Svs  GA   W-L  GAA
Enzo Dipede, Chicago         16   931  787  256  63   9-6  4.06
Mike Dowler, Wichita         28  1616 1270  589 111  16-12  4.12
Sepp Gantenhammer, Baltimore 33  1862 1186  501 130  17-14  4.19
Zoltan Toth, New York        22  1005  847  380  73   14-2  4.36
Shep Messing, New York       27  1411 1019  482 103   21-3  4.36
Richard But, Hartford        39  2262 1770  710 175  12-25  4.64
Slobo Iljevski, St. Louis    33  1878 1720  786 148  21-11  4.66
Scott Manning, Buffalo       29  1360  942  375 112  13-12  4.87
Gary Allison, Chicago        25  1509 1339  445 124  11-14  4.93
Cliff Brown, Cleveland       33  1680 1502  557 147  16-14  5.25
Jim May, Buffalo             23  1012  829  321  89    6-8  5.28
 
Most Valuable Player:  Steve Zungul, New York Arrows
Coach of the Year:  Don Popovic, New York Arrows
MISL Scoring Champion:  Steve Zungul, New York Arrows
MISL Pass Master (most Assists):  Jorgen Kristiansen, Wichita Wings
Goalkeeper of the Year:  Enzo DiPede, Chicago Horizon
Rookie of the Year:  Don Ebert, St. Louis Steamers
Championship Series Player of the Year:  Steve Zungul, New York Arrows

All-MISL team:

G - Shep Messing, New York Arrows
D - Dave D'Errico, New York Arrows
D - Steve Pecher, St. Louis Steamer
D - Ian Anderson, Cleveland Force
M - Tony Glavin, St. Louis Steamer
F - Steve Zungul, New York Arrows
F - Branko Segota, New York Arrows






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