'Extra' Shots Key Aztec Victory

Glenn Parsons
Date Published: 

A pair of free kicks and one penalty kick gave the Los Angeles Aztecs that which a thoroughly dominating offense could not provide -- a 3-0 victory over the San Antonio Thunder Saturday night before 7,747 vocal fans in Torrance's El Camino Stadium.

The victory, the Aztecs' second in two outings thus far this season, boosted Los Angeles into sole possession of first place in the North American Soccer League's Western Division.

The expansion Thunder, 1-1 under ex-Aztec coach Alex Perolli, who guided L.A. to the NASL title in 1974, in the Central Division, played the Aztecs fairly even through the first 30 minutes of the game, but a stubborn Los Angeles offense finally got the upper hand.

The Aztecs put together their first sustained attack 15 minutes into the game, then midfielder Tony Douglas and forwards Julie Veee and Uri Banhoffer passed the ball into the offensive zone in front of the San Antonio nets and Banhoffer drew Thunder goalie Bias Sanchez from the goal and shot what appeared to be a sure goal 26 minutes into the contest.

Thunder centerback John McKernan raced in to boot the ball up and over the crossbar, however, to save the scoreless tie.

Doug McMillan, the 1974 NASL Rookie of the Year who has been recuperating from offseason knee surgery, replaced Veee in the forward line at the stop in the action. Veee went to midfield and Alex Russell came out of the game.

"Doug's substitution into the game probably did more to help our effort tonight than any other single factor," Aztec coach Terry Fisher commented. "Julie is extremely versatile, so he can help us plenty by being in the midfield. Doug, at the same time, really sparked our offense as soon as he entered the game."

And so he did. McMillan didn't score, but his playmaking helped the Aztecs to a 12-4 shot advantage by the end of the first half. When the dust had cleared at the final gun, the Aztecs had outshot the Thunder 21-7. That didn't give much work to Los Angeles goalie Gary Allison, but Fisher was the last to complain.

Still, it wasn't a spectacular Aztec offensive effort that put the first goal on the board.

Instead, Banhoffer drilled a 25-yard free kick through a San Antonio defensive wall and through the legs of a less-than-lightening-quick Sanchez, the Aztec goalie through most of 1974, 37 minutes into the first half.

The half ended at 1-0, but not before San Antonio defender Raoul Fortes had been ejected from the contest for grabbing Veee's arm as the Aztec midfielder was racing toward the ball at midfield, (an ejected player may not be substituted for, thus leaving the offending team with 10 players on the field for the remainder of the game.)

It didn't take the Aztecs long to boost the score to 2-0 as San Antonio midfielder Pedro Martinez, another former Aztec, stopped the ball with his hand in the Thunder penalty area just 53 seconds into the second half. Bobby Sibald, one of five English players who have joined the Aztecs within the past two weeks, booted the subsequent penalty shot past Sanchez to the goalies' right.

The final goal came with 8:50 left in the contest when Banhoffer lifted a four-foot free kick to Vees, who blasted the ball just over Sanchez's outstretched hands. The ball dipped under the crossbar and into the Thunder nets.

San Antonio 0 0—0
Los Angeles 1 2—3

L.A. — Banhoffer (free kick) 37th min.
L.A. — Sibald (penalty kick) 46th min.
L.A. — Veee (free kick, assist Banhoffer) 82nd min.
Shots on goal — Los Angeles 21, San Antonio 7. Goalie saves — Allison (L.A.) 3, Sanchez (S.A.) 1. Cornerkicks — L.A. 5, San Antonio 2. Offside - L.A. 7, San Antonio 4. Attendance — 7,747.