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Dynasty with an asterisk
Jaime Diaz
June 09, 1986
The San Diego Sockers now have a fifth straight title from two leagues
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June 09, 1986

Dynasty With An Asterisk

The San Diego Sockers now have a fifth straight title from two leagues

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The biggest factor was the charismatic Lettieri, who would erase his team's defensive mistakes with one reflex save after another. Lettieri was brilliant in the Strikers' 6-1 Game 2 win in San Diego, which evened the series and snapped the Sockers' streak of 26 home playoff victories. The game also got the state of Minnesota excited. The last pro team from the state to win a championship was the 1954 NBA Minneapolis Lakers. Minnesotans suffered through losses in four Super Bowls, one World Series, one NASL Soccer Bowl and a Stanley Cup—not to mention the presidential bids of Hubert Humphrey and Fritz Mondale. Suddenly the Strikers were bigger than walleye season or Kirby Puckett. There was only uneasy silence when, at a luncheon before Game 3 at the Met Center, a replica of the MISL championship trophy that Merrick and Newman were holding for photographers fell apart.

But the Strikers routed the Sockers 7-2 to go up two games to one, with Alan Willey scoring four goals. "If we don't win the next one," said Veee, "I think it will be coffin time." Indeed, San Diego blew a 3-0 lead in Game 4 to lose 4-3 on a goal by Striker Gregg Thompson with 30 seconds left in regulation. Still, the Sockers refused to be buried. "I think we can win three in a row," said defender Kevin Crow. "They've just won three in a row, and we're as good as them."

Better, it turned out. Before their home fans in Game 5, the Sockers beat Minnesota 7-4; then, in Game 6, they beat the Strikers, 6-3, for the first time in six tries at the Met Center. Back home in Game 7, Quinn scored the first goal to put the Sockers in control and then booted in the one for the books on the pass from Gorsek, which gave San Diego a 4-1 third-quarter lead. The Sockers had no trouble holding on for a 5-3 victory.

At the end, his teammates hoisted Quinn onto their shoulders, then took several laps around the field with the trophy, which, unlike the replica, stayed in one piece. For the immediate future, at least, so should the MISL.

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