Trevor Whymark scored both goals, the game-winner coming off a deflection at the 59:37 mark, and goalkeeper Phil Parkes worked his magic show in the second half to lead the Vancouver Whitecape to a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the fifth Soccer Bowl today before 50,699 at Giants Stadium.
A total of 66,843 tickets had been distributed for the North American Soccer League title game and the 16,000-plus no-shows were attributed to the absence of the two-time NASL champion Cosmos. The Whitecaps eliminated the Cosmos last week in the playoffs.
Vancouver, in the championship game for the first time, was under a lot of pressure from the Rowdies early in the game. But Parkes, the NASL's top goalie, and a tightly knit back four, led by John Craven and Bob Lenarduzzi, were able to turn back Tampa Bay.
With the score tied following first-half goals by Whymark and Tampa Bay's Jan van Der Veen, Vancouver seemed content to play a waiting game and hope for a break.
"The first half, we were more open," said Whitecap Coach Tony Waiters. "The first 20 minutes of the second half, the game died a bit. We knew the game could change quickly on a play of brilliance or a mistake. It was very necessary to keep our discipline on the pitch."
Whymark's clincher could be described as a brilliant individual effort as well as a defensive lapse.
Vancouver midfielder Alan Ball, voted the MVP of the playoffs, had control of the ball and began sprinting to his right just at the edge of the goal area. The Vancouver leader suddenly sent a pass back to Whymark, who immediately blasted a low shot at the Tampa Bay defensive wall.
The ball banged off the leg of defender Barry Kitchner and caromed high over the head of frozen goalie Zeliko Bilecki into the right side of the net.
"He (Bilecki) had already made a move in another direction," said dejected Tampa Bay Coach Gordon Jago. "Once he was gone, he was gone."
Vancouver then called on its defense, the stingiest in the NASL, to hold the lead. For the first 20 minutes following Whymark's goal, it was easy. Tampa Bay forwards Rodney Marsh, Oscar Fabbiani and Steve Wagerle were unable to get away from their afternoon shadows.
The Rowdies, who managed only 10 shots in the game, would have scored on three of their six attempts in the second half if it had not been for Parkes.
Marsh, who announced his retirement this season, hit two perfectly placed rockets at Parkes and could only stare in amazement and shake his head and fists in frustration as the Vancouver goalies stopped both pointblank shots.
The first attempt was a 12-yard volley attempt that Marsh controlled following a rebound. Marsh's second try, minutes later, was even shorter. He juked two defenders and drilled a low liner that Parkes dove for and stopped.
Marsh, the Rowdie captain and one of the most skilled and flamboyant players ever to play in the league, was removed from the game minutes later and was somewhat miffed.
"How can you take out the player who has done so much for you so long," Marsh said. "I felt it was a big mistake for me to go out at that point in the game. I was replaced by someone (John Grnja) who hasn't scored a goal this year. I just thought it was a mistake. That's fact, that's fact."
Jago said he replaced his superstar (36 points) because he wanted to "go with more speed.
"Our offense hadn't done much and we had tried everything," jago said. "My subs had more speed but, unfortunately, we could not get the tying goal."
The third and final Rowdie attempt ended up with Fabbiani, the league's leading scorer with 58 points, being hit with a yellow caution card, one of five handed out by referee Gino D'Ippolito.
The Rowdies put on a furious surge in the final three minutes. Several players tried soft passes and crosses inside the Vancouver goal area only to be rebuked. The offensive somehow managed to keep the ball alive and Fabbiani, kept in check all day by the Whitecaps, jumped over a stack of players and headed a ball just to the right of Parkes.But once again, the 31-year-old keeper made a diving stop.
Fabbiani was incensed, not because of Parkes' play, but because he felt defender Roger Kenyon should have been called for a hand ball. He charged D'Ippolito and had to be restrained by his teammates.
The caution and Parkes' play took what sting was left right out of the Rowdies. They now have the distinction of being the only NASL team to have lost two Soccer Bowl finals. They fell to the Cosmos, 3-1, last year. Tampa Bay won the first Soccer Bowl, beating Portland 2-0, in 1975.