Karl-Heinz Granitza has never won an MVP award or been named to the North American Soccer League's all-star first team. He has never won a scoring title or led the league in goals scored. But since joining the Chicago Sting in 1978, Granitza has quietly and gracefully developed into perhaps the best all-around player in the NASL.
Before this season Granitza was asked by Coach Willy Roy to move from his forward position to the midfield and become the team's playmaker. Granitza has responded with 15 assists and has helped make the Sting the second-highest scoring team in the league with 63 goals.
"Karl's move had to be made. It was the best thing for the team," said Roy, whose team is matched against Team America tonight in RFK Stadium at 8 (WWDC-1260). "I figured if I could get 10 or 15 goals and assists from him, then the team would benefit."
Granitza has 14 goals and 15 assists for 43 points, third among the league's scoring leaders. But scoring titles, awards and milestones mean little to the West German.
"We are not meant to play for egos or awards or statistics," Granitza said. "We are meant to play for each other. If the opportunity is there, then obviously I like to score. But if a teammate scores or wins an award, the whole team is happy."
Roy signed Granitza from Hertha Berlin of the German second division in 1978 and has been his only coach in this country. Granitza is the NASL's second all-time leading scorer with 310 points, and is second in career goals (111) and assists (88).
Granitza has made the NASL's second-team all-star selections the last four years.
"Awards should only be given if a player has shown consistency," said Granitza, who has consistently excelled in his 5 1/2 NASL seasons.
His teammates have responded to Granitza's unselfish play. Ricardo Alonso, the league's second-leading scorer (47 points) has 16 goals and his 15 assists equal his four-year career total in the latter category.
"Everybody thought all of our personalities would clash," said Roy.
"At Chicago, we play dangerous soccer," said Granitza.
"That's the style for this country and these crowds. They want to see players always attacking and scoring."