Wednesday, August 14, 2013
14 August 1977 - They Were Masters Of Time And Space
The Strikers had just finished their first season in the league and did so with the best record, winning 19 games and losing only 7. That earned them a first-round bye in the post-season tournament and took them straight into the division championship. There, they met the Cosmos, who had played and beaten Fort Lauderdale twice during the regular season, both times by the score of 3-0.
New York hosted the first leg at Giants Stadium, where a record NASL crowd of 77,691 turned out for the occasion. They were rewarded by a dominant performance from the home side. Led by their star quartet of Pelé, Franz Beckenbauer, Carlos Alberto, and Giorgio Chinaglia, the Cosmos rolled to a 4-1 lead at the break with goals from Steve Hunt (2), Beckenbauer, and Chinaglia. (Maurice Whittle scored for Fort Lauderdale).
Early in the second half, Tony Field extended the lead to 5-1, then Chinaglia completed his hat-trick with two strikes in quick succession before the Striker's Norman Piper closed the gap. Gary Etherington added an eighth goal for New York, setting a record for the highest score by a team in the NASL playoffs, while Whittle's final score of the day set the 8-3 result.
The second leg was closer, with New York winning in a shootout before going on to win the final over the Seattle Sounders.