A Brief History of the Chicago Sting: Part 5
1981: The addition of Pato Margetic to the Sting front line – Margetic had joined from the Detroit Express – showed coach Will Roy’s attacking intent for the coming campaign, indeed the club would finish as the NASL leading scorers with 81 goals.
The turning point in the season came at the end of the June when a new club record crowd of 30,501 turned out at Wrigley Field to see the Sting beat the New York Cosmos 6-5 after a shootout. This signalled the start of an eight game winning streak.
The Central Division title was confirmed as the Sting completed the regular season with three straight home wins. The Dallas Tornado were beaten 3-1, the Minnesota Strikers by a 7-2 margin and the Tulsa Rough¬necks 5-4 to end the campaign with a 23 wins and 9 defeats.
In the first round of the playoffs the Seattle Sounders were beaten by two games to one and the Sting advanced to round two and a date with the Montreal Manic. A record soccer crowd of 58,542 in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium saw the Manic take the first game 3-2, but the Sting bounced back to win games two and three both by a 4-2 margin, game three being won despite being 2-1 down with nine minutes left to play.
The San Diego Sockers now stood between the Sting and a first Soccer Bowl appearance. Two late goals by the Californian side gave them first blood and a 2-1 win, but the Sting won game two by the same scoreline in front of 21,760 at Comiskey Park. Five days later 39,623 Chicagoans saw the Sting take the series with a 1-0 overtime victory at the same venue. The Sting were heading for a Soccer Bowl showdown with the New York Cosmos.