After Game 2 of the 1982-83 Major Indoor Soccer League championship series, Juli Veee called it the men against the boys.
Veee no longer plays for the Sockers, but there are a couple of similarities in this year's San Diego-Baltimore championship series. The Sockers again hold a 2-0 series lead after winning Sunday night, 7-3, and they are again taking verbal shots at Baltimore.
"Their coach (Kenny Cooper) said they would play soccer, but I haven't seen it," Steve Zungul said. "They're just concentrating on defense. They're not playing offense."
Said Jean Willrich: "All they play is defense, defense, defense. I know they have a lot of injured players. Who cares? When we won the (North American Soccer League) championship last year, we had five or six injured players."
Baltimore played in front of 11,338 fans at the Sports Arena without four mainstays: defenders Mike Stankovic (sprained ankle) and Max Thompson (torn knee ligaments), midfielder Bernd Holzenbein (bruised ribs) and forward Paul Kitson (sprained ankle).
Cooper, who was upset by Veee's comments two years ago, surprisingly agreed with Zungul and Willrich on Sunday.
"They're probably right," Cooper said. "Right now, we can't play a wide-open game with our injuries. We have tried to break on them, but obviously we haven't done it as well as we can. We're trying to play soccer."
When Baltimore trailed, 4-2, with 7:33 to play, Cooper tried to come back by pulling goalkeeper Scott Manning and inserting Stan Stamenkovic as a sixth attacker. The strategy seemed to work when Joey Fink scored with 6:10 to play, but it backfired when Socker Brian Quinn scored his second and third goals with Stamenkovic in goal.
Quinn gave the Sockers a 5-3 lead with 3:53 to play off Willrich's assist. Willrich dribbled half the length of the field before passing to Quinn, who was 15 feet out and left of the goal.
"When I saw the ball come out to Jean, I sprinted to the other end of the field," Quinn said. "When I ran in, the ball was right there. It was a fabulous pass."
Quinn gave the Sockers a 6-3 lead 2:21 later, scoring from 35 feet out off a George Katakalidis pass. Manning then went back in goal, and Zungul scored 18 seconds later.
"I know that 7-3 makes the score look flattering," Quinn said. "But the game was not in bed until the last three minutes. If they had tied the game and gotten their goalkeeper back in, we might have gone into overtime."
When Baltimore trailed, 4-3, Richard Chinapoo almost tied the game with 4:15 to play. However, his shot was blocked by goalkeeper Jim Gorsek on its way to the upper, right-hand corner of the goal.
Otherwise, it was a rather uneventful night for Gorsek. He made only six saves, an all-time low in a MISL playoff game. Manning made eight saves as the Sockers outshot Baltimore, 25-21.
"Defense was the key to the game," Gorsek said. "Their number of shots reflects that."
Tim Wittman had given Baltimore a 1-0 lead at 2:50 of the first quarter, scoring off a lob pass from Stamenkovic. Branko Segota tied the game at 7:41 for San Diego, then Jacques Ladouceur provided the Sockers with a 2-1 lead at 8:45 by scoring off the rebound of Kaz Deyna's shot. Fink tied the game at 11:36 off Stamenkovic's second assist.
Ade Coker gave the Sockers a 3-2 lead with 1:03 left in the half, shooting around Baltimore's Bruce Savage from 15 feet out. Quinn scored 45 seconds later from 50 feet out when Manning was screened out by Wittman.
The Sockers have been scoring their goals quickly against Baltimore. In Game 1 on Friday, they scored four goals in 5:53 of the second quarter during a 5-4 win. Sunday, they had two goals in 1:04 of the first quarter, two goals in 45 seconds of the second quarter and three goals in 2:32 of the fourth quarter.
"It seems like when we give up one goal, we give up another one real quick," Baltimore's Dave McWilliams said. "It's something we're going to have to watch in the future."
Winning the next two games may not be easy for the Sockers. Both games are in Baltimore, where the Sockers are 0-6 lifetime. Two of the losses were in the 1982-83 championship series, which San Diego won, 3 games to 2. This year's series is a best-of-seven.
"The pressure's on them now to win both games in Baltimore," said Ron Newman, Sockers coach. "We have added incentive because we've never won in Baltimore. We may be more lively this time because of that."