Ray Hudson, Fort Lauderdale's team captain and most spirited player, summed up his team's Soccer Bowl performance quite simply. "When you don't convert easy chances, you should be punished."
That's exactly what the Cosmos did to the Strikers in the second half. Frustration after blowing early scoring opportunities, the hot, muggy weather and a lucky rebound goal by Julio romero and the early exit of striker-forward Gerd Mueller (pulled thigh muscle were too much to overcome for Fort Lauderdale. The Strikers dropped a 3-0 desision to the Cosmos yesterday at RFK Stadium.
Talented but temperamental Brazilian midfielder Francisco Marinho was irate because he wasn't included in Striker Coach Cor van der Hart's 16-player lineup and refused to sit with his team on the bench during the game. 1
Hudson said Marinho's pregame outburst had absolutely nothing to do with the game. "He's . . . well of no relevance to us at all. No relevance."
Van der Hart said his decision to leave out Marinho, who scored 11 points in 19 games this year, was his alone.
"I have to go with my best 16 players, that's what I'll always do," said van der Hart. "When you refuse to sit on the bench with the team, you don't belong."
Marinho, who played for the Cosmos last year, strolled onto the field in shorts and shower shoes for the post-game ceremonies and was ignored by many of his teammates.
The Strikers didn't miss Marinho. For most of the game, Fort Lauderdale had played the heavily favored glamor team of the NASL on even terms. Using as many as nine men back on defense, Fort Lauderdale kept the league's highest scoring team scoreless for 47 minutes.
"Everything worked perfect until that lucky goal," said Striker goalkeeper Jan van Beveren, who made several sparking plays to keep his team in the game. "We had played good defense and were even at the half (0-0). We felt one goal could win it. When they scored, that made it tough on us. We played for one quick goal early so they'd have to come after us. But it turned out the other way."
The one goal the Strikers felt did them in was Romero's carom shot of a Giorgio Chinglia direct free kick that bounced right back to him. Chinaglia, who had been fouled by Arsene Auguste to set up the play, hit a line shot that struck Striker defender Ray Fogarty on the ankle. The ball bounded back to Romero, who easily hit it past out-of-position van Beveren for a 1-0 Cosmos lead at 47:55.
"I was in the right corner and he hit it in the left," a dejected van Beveren said. "I couldn't get it."
The goal only served to fuel the Strikers anger even more. Upset at missing changes, the Strikers also were fuming because they didn't have the energy or the players to get back in the game.
"Heads began to drop, legs got heavier and we didn't have the guns," said Hudson, who had two of his team's 14 shots.
"I'm so disgusted. If the Cosmos had the chances we had they would have led, 3-0, at halftime. We had them and let them off the hook. We gave them the chance to beat us."
Playing in the Soccer Bowl final for the first time, the Strikers looked like a beaten club after Romero's goal. The effort of playing full tilt at both ends in the first half had taken its toll. The midfield of Hudson, Lex Schoemaker, Teofilo Cubillas and Colin Fowles was dragging and the Cosmos began picking their pockets at will.
"The midfield had done such a great job all year but they had to run so much in the first half, they were tired," van der Hart said. "That heat took a lot out of us."
Without Mueller, who had five game-winning goals this year, in the lineup, the Stikers were practically helpless in the final minutes.
On more than one occasion the Striker attack revolved around one person taking a shot against a packed-in Cosmos defense. The only real scoring chance they had was a Schoemaker attempt that Cosmos goalie Hubert Birkenmeier saved.
"We were tired by the time they got that first goal," defender John Pot said.
The Strikers' fatigue finally showed as Chinaglia got away from Fogarty to score the Cosmos' second and third goals to wrap up the game.
The last Chinaglia shot went between van Beveren and Pot, with Fogarty standing helplessly on the goal line. The three players merely sat and watched each other as Chinaglia began celebrating another Cosmos victory.
"They earned it," Hudson said. "They have a great team and they just beat us. When you look at their lineup of players, all you can do is scratch your head."