Steve Zungul called it a championship-type game between two championship-caliber teams.
And it took a championship-type play from Zungul for the Sockers to beat Chicago in overtime, 5-4, in front of 10,598 fans Friday night at the Sports Arena.
The winning shot developed when the Sockers were awarded a free kick 6:02 into the overtime. Branko Segota lined up as if he would kick the ball, but stepped aside at the last second.
Zungul then kicked the ball past Chicago goalie Victor Nogueira, giving the Sockers their seventh-straight win. The ball just barely squeezed in between the left post and Nogueira.
"When Branko moved, they didn't pay attention to me," Zungul said. "They expected Branko to take the shot. Then I came and put the ball exactly where I wanted."
Zungul's goal capped what had been a record-setting night for the Sockers.
The attendance raised their home-season total to 197,814, an all-time record. But the Sockers also had five penalties in the game, tying a team record.
Things were even worse for Chicago, which was whistled for seven penalties.
As expected, Sting Coach Willy Roy was not kind to the officials.
"San Diego is better than us at taking dives," Roy said. "That's why we had more penalties."
Socker Coach Ron Newman was also unhappy with the officiating.
"I lost my voice screaming at the referees," Newman said. "I couldn't do my job because of that."
Newman and Roy even got upset at each other. Midway in the second quarter, Newman started yelling at the officials. Soon, Newman was shaking his fist at Roy. The Chicago coach then gave Newman an obscene gesture.
"It didn't show professionalism," Roy said. "I didn't tell him to bleep off. If that's the kind of person he is, he has to live with himself."
Newman said: "When I was talking to the ref, he butted in. I thought they were using rough tactics on us early. We should've backed off, but we didn't then."
In hindsight, perhaps they should have left the wrestling ring that was used Thursday night at the Sports Arena. In addition to the coaches, there were shoving matches between Branko Segota and Chicago's Victor Moreland, and Brian Quinn and Chicago's Karl-Heinz Granitza.
"The heat flies when we play Chicago," Newman said. "It's always worth the price of admission."
During the second half, the teams concentrated more on soccer.
Ultimately, it looked as if the Sockers' winning streak would end until Segota scored with 1:31 left in regulation.
San Diego took an early lead on Zungul's goal off a Quinn pass at 8:16 of the first quarter.
But, Chicago took a two-goal halftime lead with three goals in the second quarter.
The Sockers cut their deficit to 3-2 as Segota scored 31 seconds into the second half with an assist from Zungul. Segota was instrumental in the tying goal at 4:57, stealing the ball at midfield then feeding Jean Willrich on a breakaway.
Germain Iglesias gave Chicago a 4-3 lead with 5:44 left in regulation, scoring off a pass from Mark Simanton. It was the first goal in five games for Iglesias, who hadn't played in a year because of major knee surgery.
The Sockers pulled goalie Jim Gorsek with 2:02 left in regulation. It paid off 33 seconds later when Segota tied the game.
San Diego had a power play for the final 1:15 of regulation and first 45 seconds of overtime. But Zungul saved his heroics for later.