Toros cool it, ice 2-0 win over Rowdies

Ken Blankenship
Date Published: 
St. Petersburg Times

TAMPA — Greg Myers first told his team to cool it. Then he cooled things himself with a second half change in strategy that paid off handsomely Wednesday night at Tampa Stadium.

Myers, the Miami Toros head coach, watched his team play the host Tampa Bay Rowdies to a scoreless first half tie, then switched his offensive attack for the second half. The result: two goals and 2-0 North American Soccer League victory over the Tampa Bay Rowdies before 18,654 fans.

The Toros regained the East Division lead with their 8-2 record and 68 points. The Rowdies, suffering their first home loss and watching their six-game winning streak masterfully snapped, are also 8-2 with 66 points.

THE VICTORY avenged the Toros' 1-0 Orange Bowl set-back to the Rowdies last Friday night, one in which a full-scale brawl resulted and promised of more of the same at Tampa Stadium.

But both teams, carrying implicit instructions from their respective coaches onto the field, exhibited quite level-headed, though physically exuberant, play under the watchful eye of NASL referees' chief Eddie Pearson.

And Myers' maneuver in the second half was rewarded with goals by league-leading scorer Steve David at the 49:11 mark and surprise midfield starter Kip Jordan with 79:36 gone in the 90-minute contest.

"We put David and (Warren) Archibald on the same side of the field," remarked Myers. "It pulled one of their men over, and gave us some operating room. We wanted to put the two fastest guys over there, and loosen things up in the middle."

IT LOOSENED up, all right. Though outshot by the Rowdies 20-6, the Toros made their infrequent opportunities count.

Archibald dashed down the left side to lead a Miami charge with the first half only four minutes underway. He then drilled a cross shot into the middle, barely 10 feet from Tampa Bay goalkeeper Mike Hewitt, who was blinded from the ball by several Toros and Rowdies milling about. "No, I didn't see that first one," said Hewitt. "It was a good cross, and the ball came out from two of our men and one of theirs.

There was no blindness about the second goal, however. David whipped past all Tampa Bay defenders, ran down the right side and lined one at Hewitt from the baseline. Hewitt dived and deflected it — directly to Miami's Jordan, who stood alone 12 feet out and casually popped the ball into an open net.

Tampa Bay Coach Eddie Firmani was not surprised at the outcome. "I've been apprehensive all day," he said, "and this is the reason why. I still believe we have the better team, but the one word for tonight's game was "attitude.'"

IN OTHER words, Firmani indicated his squad fell to a lethal overdose of overconfidence. "Yes, I think you could say overconfidence," said Firmani. "We didn't do the simple thing we've been saying all week in practice. They had a better attitude about the game and they won."

Myers gave a different reason. "I thought the Rowdies played as well (as last Friday), but we played that much better," he said. "We weren't dribbling around as much, making better passes, playing as a unit and helping one another."

"Yes, they played well," was all Rowdie captain John Boyle had to say. Boyle watched three of his shots sail within inches of the goal, one brilliantly tipped over the crossbar by Toro goalkeeper Osvaldo Toriani, who was given six saves and was constantly harassed by the desperate Rowdie attackers in the closing moments.

Myers made another change, defensively this time, to quell the late Rowdie tries. "We always put 10 men into the penalty area at that time," said Myers, "especially on the road. All we wanted to do was win."

THE FIRST half was as exciting as any scoreless 45 minutes could be.

The two teams which sport the league's best offenses, took turns playing brilliant defence. Although the Rowdies were clearly the dominant offensive squad, firing nine shots to Miami's lone attempt early in the half by Steve David, neither side could find the scoring range.

The Tampa Bay quartet of Farruck Quraishi, Malcolm Linton, Michael Connell and Stewart Jump blanketed the Miami attack, led by NASL leading scorer David, who was help pointless for the first time this season last week against the Rowdies.

And the choice of surprise starter Mike Hewitt at goalkeeper made Rowdie Coach Eddie Firmani seem a genius. Hewitt made several outstanding plays away from the goal and showed extra booting power in his clearing kicks. In last week's whitewash of the Toros, Paul Hammond was in goal.

MEANWHILE, the Toro defense effectively shackled Rowdie strikers Derek Smethurst and Clyde Best, allowing only three shots between them. The rest of the shots were scattered about, and only three attempts were dangerous enough for Miami goalkeeper Cavaldo Toriani, another surprise starter, to be credited with a save.

The closest the Rowdies came to a goal was when forward John Sissons broke away for a one-on-one opportunity against Toriani in the half's final minute. But Sisson's left-footed grounder slid 10 feet to the right of the goal. A few moments earlier, a header by Best banged into the side of the goal.

Both teams suffered injuries in the first hald as the two squads engaged in a physical, but well-controlled contest.

Toro defenseman Alan Hamlyn exited 11 minutes before intermission with a left knee injury. Just a few minutes later, Sissons fell to the ground with a re-injury to a toe. He came back to take his just-miss shot.

The roughness of the game was evident in the fouls that were called—10 on the Toros in the first hald, four on the Rowdies.

Score by periods:
Miami .... 0 2 — 2
Tampa Bay ... 0 0 — 0

1. Miami—David (Archibald), 49:11; 2. Miami—Jordan (David), 79:36.

Shots on goal:
Miami .... 1 5 — 6
Tampa Bay ... 9 11 — 20

Goalkeepers: Miami—Toriani; Tampa Bay—Hewitt, Saves: Toriani 3-3-6; Hewitt 1-2-3. Referee: Game D'ipollite. A—18,654