Baltimore and Missouri will face off in the best-of-three 2013 MISL Championship Series starting Thursday at the Independence Events Center in Missouri (8:35 p.m. ET, MISLNation.com), with the second leg set for Saturday at 1st Mariner Arena in Baltimore (7:35 p.m. ET, MISLNation.com). A deciding mini-game will be played immediately following Game 2 if needed.
3/2/13 – DETROIT – The Detroit Waza won their first major championship, edging out the San Diego Sockers 7-6, to capture the U.S. Open Cup for Arena Soccer before a sold out crowd of 1,256 at the Melvindale Civic Arena.
Aaron Byrd’s goal from a sharp angle at 13:13 of the fourth quarter proved to be the game winner as Detroit held off a late surge to seal the title.
The US Open tournament is the largest national arena soccer tournament in the country open to all US pro and amateur teams.
The Sockers have won three straight PASL titles and had won the last three US Open championships. San Diego defeated Detroit 10-7 at home in last year’s Ron Newman Cup Final and the Waza had been plotting their revenge ever since.
Given the chance to host the Sockers on their own turf, Detroit seized the opportunity. San Diego took a 1-0 lead on a Kraig Chiles restart goal, but it would be the Sockers only lead of the game.
In a back-and-forth game, Detroit took four leads only to be matched each time by the Sockers. In all, the game was tied five times.
When Miki Djerisilo dribbled around Eduardo Velez and scored at 8:14 of the fourth quarter to give Waza a 6-4 lead, it looked like Detroit might be able to pull away. But the Sockers rallied with goals by Raymundo Reza and Velez, the latter coming with just 3:00 showing on the clock.
Detroit got a break when San Diego was whistled for its sixth foul with 2:29 left in regulation, putting Waza on the powerplay.
Detroit’s Ricardo Lopes and Costea Decu patiently pinged the ball back and forth several times looking to create an opening. Finally, Lopes hit Byrd in the corner, where he launched a shot between Sockers goalkeeper Riley Swift and the near post.
Detroit won’t have long to enjoy their victory. The Waza will face the Rio Grande Valley Flash, winners of 10 in a row, in the PASL Ron Newman Cup Semifinals Sunday in San Diego. The winner of that game will face the winner of the Sockers and the Las Vegas Legends, on Monday, possibly setting up a rematch of last year’s final.
Members of the selection committee include Ron Newman, Kenny Cooper, Al Miller, Otto Orf, and current MISL coaches Keith Tozer and Kim Roentved.
Haaskivi and Preki led the field with 12 votes each. Toth was next with 11, while Quinn, Stankovic, and Jago grabbed eight each. No other player earned more than five votes.
Voters were allowed to pick 15 players, coaches, and administrators to establish the inaugural class, but were constrained to just seven this year which splintered the vote.
“There are still a number of great players who haven’t been selected,” said ISHOF Executive Director Sydney Nusinov. “It’s kind of like telling baseball voters they have to choose between Stan Musial and Mickey Mantle, and they can only pick one. It’s hard to build a consensus when there are so many worthy candidates.”
Haaskivi, the fifth leading scorer in MISL history, played for the Houston Summit, Cleveland Force, Baltimore Blast, and Cleveland Crunch in the MISL and the Edmonton Drillers in the NASL over a 14 year indoor career, totaling 817 regular season points. Haaskivi was a seven-time All-Star and four-time All-MISL 1st Team selection.
Preki was an instant indoor sensation when he came to the US at the age of 22 to play for the Tacoma Stars. He played nine seasons for the Stars, St. Louis Storm, and San Jose Grizzlies before embarking on a celebrated outdoor career in MLS and with the US National Team. Preki finished 7th all-time in the MISL in scoring with seven 40+ goal seasons. The Belgrade native topped the 50 goal plateau four times. Preki finished with 796 points in the MISL, where he was the 1988-89 MVP and CISL, where he was the 1995 MVP.
Toth was overshadowed by Shep Messing in New York early in his career and by Victor Nogueira in San Diego late in his career, but in between he quietly put up some of the best goalkeeping numbers in indoor soccer history. Toth was first in MISL history in winning percentage at .667 on his career 168-84 record. His 4.03 GAA was also an MISL best. He finished fifth in wins. A two-time MISL Goalkeeper of the Year, Toth won seven championships with the New York Arrows and San Diego Sockers before finishing his career with the St. Louis Storm.
Quinn, who this year was inducted into the Breitbard Hall of Fame, the highest honor for any San Diego athlete, was the engine for eight San Diego Sockers championships. Quinn, considered by some to be the greatest midfielder in indoor soccer history, was a six-time All-Star and two-time Championship Series MVP. Quinn’s 10 year career with the Sockers and Montreal Manic produced 346 points in 314 games. Quinn later joined the US National Team outdoors and succeeded Ron Newman behind the Sockers bench.
Stankovic was Baltimore’s enforcer and, along with Kim Roentved, one of the MISL’s preeminent two-way players. Stankovic played 15 seasons with the Baltimore Blast and Baltimore Spirit and also played for the Wichita Wings and the NASL’s Dallas Tornado and Memphis Rogues. Stankovic played 424 games in the NASL and MISL scoring 453 points, and winning one championship. Stankovic was named to the MISL’s All-Decade Team in 1988 and later became a player/coach with the Spirit.