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1985-86 MISL Season


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

Twelve teams were in the MISL for its eighth season. This year the league saw another infusion of fresh talent as more players from the defunct NASL came looking for jobs. The result was the league's best year ever as far as quality of play was concerned. Average attendance climbed to 8,696, nearly matching the all-time record of 8,735 set in 1981-82. The total was just over 2,500,000, and Cleveland set a single game record with 20,176 watching the Force clinch the Eastern Division after the closest divisional race in league history. The league inaugurated a 15-game broadcasting schedule on ESPN this year for its best television exposure yet. With little competition in the outdoor game and the National Team in disarray, the MISL was the main source of soccer activity in the country this year.

Although San Diego repeated as the class of the league, dashing any hopes of exciting races in the West, the Eastern Division was a cauldron of shifting fortunes and nailbiting comebacks, as the entire division finished within four games in the standings. The Cleveland Force finally emerged the victor in the East after the toughest and most exciting divisional race in league history. The Force finished a single game ahead of Minnesota, who finished a game ahead of Dallas. Likewise, Baltimore trailed Dallas by a single game, and Pittsburgh and Chicago ended the regular season a game behind the Blast. This was in marked contrast to the west where Wichita was nine games behind the titleist Sockers. Steve Zungul again finished as the top scorer in the league, closely followed by Erik Rasmussen and Branko Segota. A new scoring star, who would become a longtime indoor scorer and then make significant headway in the MLS and with the National team in World Cup 1998, was Preki Radislogevic.

Although the race in the East was tight, this did not lead to upsets in the playoffs. Only Tacoma's four game defeat of Wichita could fall into that category, and that was a close one. Otherwise, all the higher ranked teams advanced, although the formidable San Diego Sockers were taken to four games by the lowly St. Louis Steamers, a below .500 club. In the semifinals, Minnesota edged a feisty Cleveland side, while San Diego had a somewhat easier time of it downing Tacoma in four. The championship series went all the way, and at first it looked like the teams were fielding alternating lineups. After trouncing Minnesota 7-2 in the opener, San Diego was nearly shut out as they were humiliated 6-1 in the rejoinder. Minnesota went for the upset, embarrassing the Sockers again 2-7, and taking the fourth game 3-4, to leave them only one game from the title. As this point, the Sockers found their nerve, and took the next three games to earn their most hard fought championship ever, the first time an MISL team had rebounded from a 1-3 deficit to take the league championship.

After the season, the MISL announced its return to New York City by awarding an expansion franchise, the New York Express. In June, the league sponsored the Budweiser Classic, a new indoor tournament to showcase top collegiate players, which was held in Richfield Coliseum near Cleveland on June 1. A month later, the league entered a new three-year agreement with the players, ending a two-week lockout.

1985-86 SEASON
EASTERN DIVISION
G
W
L
GF
GA
Pct.
GB
Cleveland Force
48
27
21
252
212
.563
--
Minnesota Strikers
48
26
22
232
242
.542
1
Dallas Sidekicks
48
25
23
220
231
.521
2
Baltimore Blast
48
24
24
211
201
.500
3
Chicago Sting
48
23
25
196
196
.479
4
Pittsburgh Spirit
48
23
25
221
237
.479
4
WESTERN DIVISION
San Diego Sockers
48
36
12
308
195
.750
--
Wichita Wings
48
27
21
258
226
.563
9
Tacoma Stars
48
23
25
208
232
.479
13
St. Louis Steamers
48
23
25
223
233
.479
13
Kansas City Comets
48
18
30
217
268
.375
18
Los Angeles Lazers
48
13
35
197
270
.271
23
/r/n

Quarterfinals
Cleveland defeated Baltimore, 7-2, 3-8, 6-8, 4-3 (OT), 5-1
Minnesota defeated Dallas, 5-3, 7-2, 1-4, 7-4
San Diego defeated St. Louis, 7-6 (OT), 5-3, 7-8, 10-4
Tacoma defeated Wichita, 5-6, 5-4, 5-4 (OT), 3-2

Semifinals
Minnesota defeated Cleveland, 2-5, 6-2, 5-4 (OT), 7-3
San Diego defeated Tacoma, 10-4, 7-2, 3-4, 8-5

Championship
San Diego defeated Minnesota, 7-2, 1-6, 2-7, 3-4, 7-4, 6-3, 5-3

After the season, Pittsburgh folded.

All-Star Game:  Western Division defeated Eastern Division 5-3.
(at Chicago, IL.  Att:  12,456.  MVP:  Branko Segota)

Leading Scorers                   GP   G   A   TP
Steve Zungul, San Diego           46  55  60  115
Erik Rasmussen, Wichita           47  67  41  108
Branko Segota, San Diego          45  60  46  106
Tatu, Dallas                      44  49  32   81
Craig Allen, Cleveland            43  50  31   81
Stan Stamenkovic, Baltimore       45  37  44   81
Karl-Heinz Granitza, Chicago      43  28  47   75
Chico Borja, Wichita              37  33  41   74
Preki, Tacoma                     48  41  30   71
Hugo Perez, San Diego             41  41  25   66
Kim Roentved, Wichita             47  28  38   64
Dale Mitchell, Kansas City        48  37  26   63
Keith Furphy, Tacoma              47  33  27   61
Drago Dumbovic, Chicago           47  47  14   61
Thompson Usiyan, Minnesota        40  30  30   60
Ali Kazemaini, Cleveland          47  38  21   59
Poli Garcia, Los Angeles          44  36  21   57
Jean Wilrich, San Diego           45  27  30   57

LEADING GOALKEEPERS   (Min. 1200 minutes to qualify)

                              GP    Min. Sho  Svs   GA   W-L   GAA
Scott Manning, Baltimore     27  1491   632  319   91  14-10  3.66
Jim Gorsek, San Diego        24  1323   565  286   82   19-2  3.72
David Brcic, Pittsburgh      43  2659  1206  598  167  21-22  3.77
Mike Dowler, Tacoma          23  1327   535  274   92   9-12  4.16
Zoltan Toth, San Diego       28  1562   714  384  109   17-9  4.19
Cris Vaccaro, Cleveland      36  2012   974  445  143  19-14  4.26
Victor Nogueira, Chicago     37  1905   799  372  137  17-14  4.31
Tino Lettieri, Minnesota     41  2386  1162  559  175  24-15  4.40
Krys Sobieski, Dallas        40  2469  1003  497  182  24-16  4.42
Slobo Iljevski, St. Louis    39  2178   989  512  163  19-17  4.49
Scott Manning, Baltimore     25  1360   589  300  104  10-13  4.59
Alan Mayer, Kansas City      36  2060  1052  519  163  15-20  4.75
 
Most Valuable Player:  Steve Zungul, Tacoma/San Diego
Coach of the Year:  Gordon Jago, Dallas
MISL Scoring Champion:  Steve Zungul, Tacoma Stars/San Diego Sockers
MISL Pass Master (most Assists):  Steve Zungul, Tacoma Stars/San Diego Sockers
Defender of the Year:  Kim Roentved, Wichita Wings
Goalkeeper of the Year:  Keith Van Eron, Baltimore Blast
Rookie of the Year:  David Boncek, Kansas City Comets
Championship Series Player of the Year:  Brian Quinn, San Diego Sockers

All-MISL team:

G - David Brcic, Pittsburgh Spirit
D - Fernando Clavijo, San Diego Sockers
D - Kim Roentved, Wichita Wings
M - Branko Segota, San Diego Sockers
F - Steve Zungul, Tacoma Stars
F - Erik Rasmussen, Wichita Wings