Soccer Opener a Success

Frank Lieberman
Date Published: 

9,048 Fans 'Get Money's Worth and Will Be Back'

The National Professional Soccer League made its initial bid Sunday for a chunk of the Southern California sports dollar. The dividends here, and across the United States, exceeded expectations.

After drawing rather sparce crowds for three exhibition tilts, the Toros attracted 9,048 fans at the Coliseum and treated them to another victory, 3-2, over New York. The contest was easily the most exciting played in L.A. to date.

New York coach Freddie Goodwin commented after the contest, "They (the fans) came for excitement and certainly got their money's worth. I'm sure a great deal of them were just curious to see what was going on in here. But I do feel after today's performance they'll be back."

Goodwin, a long-time English soccer star, explained the difference between soccer in America and Europe. "Over there winning is the main thing no matter how much scoring is done. Here a team not only has to win, they've got to score . . . and big, too."

That's just what the Western Division leading Toros did.

It gained the maximum points allotted from the unique NPSL scoring system. The Toros gained six points for the victory as well as a point for each goal for a total of nine.

New York, despite losing, picked up a pair for its tallies. The team with the most points at the end of the campaign takes the division title.

All the scoring was done in the opening 45-minute half.

Dragan Djukic booted the opening goal for the Toros in the 15th minute when he kicked home a 19-yard penalty kick try. The infraction came after New York goalie Jeff Sidebottom
tripped Toro Mehalj Mesaros within five feet of the net.

"We just seemed to explode after that," a gleaming Max Wozniak, coach of the Toros, noted. "We really hustled in the first half, maybe too much so. Everyone seemed to tire in
the second due to their (N.Y.) youth." Five of the General starters were between 18 and 22 years of age.

Eli Durante put L.A. up, 2-0, in the 20th minute of play on a 30-foot loop kick after a perfect pass from Djukic.

The visitors' 20-year-old Warren Archibald, easily the game's outstanding performer, put the Generals on the scoreboard with a goal in the 24th minute. However, Durante belted one past Sidebottom in the 36th minute with what proved to be the margin of victory.

New York's final tally came on a boot by Barry Mahy, after Archibald flicked him the ball in front of the net. Archibald gained control of the ball following an indirect free kick that went bouncing wide.

TORO NOTES — Other opening day scores were Philadelphia over Toronto, 2-0, before 14,163; Baltimore edqing Atlanta, 1-0, before 6,434; Chicago nipping St. Louis, 2-1 before 4,720 and Pittsburgh tying Oakland, 3-3, belore 9,721 in Oakland . . . Pittsburgh comes to town Wednesday night to battle the Toros . . . That game will be televised on KHJ (9) at 8 p.m. . . . Sidebottom formerly played with Wolverhampton, which is Jack Kent Cooke's entrant in the United Soccer Assn. . . . The Toros' initial road game takes place next Sunday in Atlanta . . . Both teams missed easy scoring chances in the second half . . . Goodwin complained that his team's youth hurt his scoring . . . He felt that his team controlled the ball everywhere but in the scoring area . . . Toros look 20 shots on goal while New York managed 13.

Sports Beat

The first major professional soccer league in the U.S. made its debut Sunday and received an enthusiastic welcome from a surprising 46,547 fans in five cities, including 14,163 for the Philadelphia Spartans - Toronto Falcons match which outdrew both the Phils-Mets double-header and the NBA championship playoffs in the same city.