Aztecs Beat Toros With Penalty Kicks

Date Published: 
Naples Daily News

MIAMI (AP) - A lot of people didn't like the idea of the Los Angeles Aztecs beating the Miami Toros for the North American Soccer League championship in an overtime penalty kick contest.

But Toros Coach John Young realized a man whose team won six regular season games through overtime penalty kicks was in no position to complain.

"I said from the start I wasn't going to knock the championship game being decided by penalty kicks if it went into overtime," said Young after the Toros were beaten 4-3. "You can't have your cake and eat it too, unless you have two cakes."

The 15,507 fans in the Orange Bowl and a national television audience Sunday watched the
Aztecs and Toros knot at 3-3 at the end of regulation play in a wild contest that saw the Aztecs come from behind three times despite an Aztec scoring on his own team.

Then came the tie-breaker -- five players from each team lining up for one shot each on the opposing goalie.

The Aztecs had scored four penalty kicks and the Toros three when Miami's Roger Valdi booted his attempt over the crossbar. Up stepped the Aztecs' Tony Davis, who could win the championship with one kick.

A roar came from the crowd when Miami goalie Osvaldo Toriani shoved the shot away, and a dejected Davis was halfway hack to the bench before he realized the referee had ruled Toriani had violated the rules by moving his feet before Davis crossed the penally line.

The result was a coach's dream -- an instant replay with the ending changed. Davis' second shot went home and for the penally kick contest, Los Angeles got an extra point and the championship.

Miami drew first blood 10 minutes into the game when Ralph Wright headed in a corner kick from Ron Sharp. The Aztecs' Ricardo DeRienzo made it 1-1 on a penalty kick ten minutes later, and that score held through the first 45 minute half.

In the second half, Miami jumped to 2-1 when a hard shot rocketed off the body of Los Angeles player Ramon Moraldo and bounced into the Aztec net for a "hollow goal."

Renato Costa's free kick after a penalty brought Los Angeles even. Esteban Aranguiz headed in a shot to put Miami up 3-2, but the Aztec's Douglas McMillan, NASL rookie of the year, kicked the ball into an open goal to end regulation play at 3-3.

Alex Perolli, the Aztec's urbane, Albanian-born coach, said his team played its usual game, taking it easy in the first half and driving hard in the second.

Asked what he thought about winning a championship game on penalty kicks, Perolli chortled, "Don't ask me. Ask the commissioner."