A Brief History of the Chicago Sting: Part 3
1978: At the beginning of the 1978 NASL season the Sting set a much unwanted record when the team lost its first ten matches. This was not the start that owner Lee Stern had anticipated when he brought in Clive Toye as new club president who in turn had hired Malcolm Musgrove as the teams new head coach. Toye had been one of the men behind the success of the NASL’s leading light the New York Cosmos, while Musgrove, a former left-winger with West Ham United was a coach with a growing reputation.
Musgrove had made expensive forays into the transfer market bringing in four new players in the shape of Karl-Heinz Granitza (from Hertha Berlin), Arno Steffenhagen (from FC St. Pauli), Horst Blankenburg (who had played in the great Ajax side of the early 70’s alongside Johan Cruyff, and co) and Jorgen Kristensen (another former Hertha Berlin man).
Swift action was needed and out went Musgrove as Willy Roy was recalled as coach. The effect was immediate – ten wins were recorded in the last fourteen regular season games – and the Sting moved up from last place to second place in the Central Division to win a playoff berth.
Although eliminated from the playoffs by the Tampa Bay Rowdies the Sting (or Der Sting as they had become known with the shift from British staff to German) won plaudits around the league for their attacking style of play scoring thirty-eight goals in those final fourteen games.
While Musgrove’s reign had been fairly disastrous his signing of Granitza would set the seed for the Sting’s success over coming years, as we shall see.