The game that the North American Soccer League hopes will someday be looked upon as an August Super Bowl will be played this afternoon.
Soccer Bowl '77 - can the NASL make it without Roman numerals? - will match The Cosmos and the surprising Seattle Sounders. Kickoff in Portland is 4 p.m. (WRC-TV-4), and a sellout crowd of more than 35,000 is expected.Close to 15,000 Seattle fans are expected to make the 156-mile journey to Portland.
Perhaps the most significant aspect of the game, more important than the title itself, is the fact that this will be Pele's final game in th NASL. With soccer booming after 11 years of sturggle in the U.S. most soccer people agree that the man who turned it around is Pele.
The 37-year-old Brazilian has been rejuvenated in these playoffs, wanting to go out a winner. He has scored six goals in five games and, combined with Giorgio Chinaglia and Franz Beckenbauer, has led the Cosmos to a 20-7 goal advantage in their five playoff games.
The Sounders, third in the Western Division have taken a different route to the final, using a stingy defense to upset, in succession, Vancouver, Minesota and Los Angeles.
Led by league's best group of full backs, goalie Tony Chursky and Tommy Ord, the Sounders have also won five straight - all by one goal.
American Jim McAlister, the league's rookie of the year, and fellow fullbacks Mel Machin, Dave Gillett and Mike England throw up a wall around Chursky. When the Sounders do score, it is usually Cave or Ord, a late-season acquisition from Vancouver, who put the ball in the net.