Chinaglia had hit a kind of vaguely hopeful ball upfield. It was far in front of Hunt, and Tony Chursky, the Canadian who keeps goal for Seattle, had it well covered and indeed gathered it easily. But Hunt kept running, challenging the goalie, who astonishingly chose to roll the ball along the ground to a defenseman. Amazed by his good fortune, Hunt intercepted and clipped it into the goal.
Cosmos 1-0, which meant only that they had weathered the initial storm. Four minutes later Sounder Forward Tommy Ord, who had been giving Cosmos' defender Werner Roth a difficult afternoon, got to a cross ball from Cave and the score was tied, 1-1.
The Cosmos' stars were not shining. Beckenbauer was uncharacteristically guilty of sloppy passing. Pel�, too, was making mistakes and it seemed that he might go out with a whimper after all. The Cosmos' attack would start up only to die out swiftly. Typically, when Hunt broke through alone again and tested Chursky with a shot that he could only parry, there was no Cosmo there to hit the rebound.
In the second half the Cosmos brought on Vito Dimitrijevic as an attacking midfielder to add some spine. It created more attacking chances, but even so there was nervousness in the side, an unwillingness to commit. Pel� spooned the ball over the bar from close in. Nelsi Morais crossed a low ball in front of the Sounders' goal, a center ball that had to be dived for. Three Cosmos watched it go by. Nobody dived.
The Sounders, although showing signs of weariness after their all-out first-half, were still in the game. Jim McAlister, the young Seattle-born defender, almost beat Messing with a low shot that the goalie fumbled, then held. Cup fever. The same affliction found Chinaglia, Pel� and Beckenbauer, the three most publicized Cosmos, in front of the Seattle goal, passing among themselves, each unwilling to take final responsibility for a shot. Yellow cards flew among the Cosmos like confetti. Cup fever.
Then Hunt took a hand again. Picking up a ball in the far left of the field, he worked it close to the corner flag, looked around carefully and put a perfect center onto Chinaglia's head, and the tall forward nodded it in. 2-1 Cosmos. By now Gabriel had played his last card, bringing on Dave Butler and Tom Jenkins to freshen the attack. Butler, in particular, was Gabriel's secret weapon. He had scored six goals from the bench this season.
It was the signal for a last Sounders blitz, and Hunt, who had done so much for the Cosmos that afternoon, almost brought his teammates to disaster. Later even he couldn't explain why he had found himself in the middle of the Cosmos' defense and right in the goalmouth, certainly not why he tried to dribble the ball clear, instead of passing it to Messing or a defender. Cup fever. He beat three Sounders, then lost the ball to a fourth, Steve Buttle, who hit the goalpost.
There were more escapes. In a 4 on 2 situation, Jocky Scott took the last pass and shot wide from close range. Mike England clipped a ball just wide of the post. The minutes ticked away as the Cosmos held on desperately. And they survived, and held the championship, the one Pel� had never won.
Which made it possible for Pel�, before they carried him off shoulder high, to strip off his shirt and give it to Seattle's Jim McAlister, who had just been voted the league's Rookie of the Year. American-born. The dying high priest from the exotic country hands the sacred flame on to the native acolyte. It would be hard to find a better symbol.
In their only previous meeting this year, the Sounders scored early and hung on to win 1-0. Admittedly, the game was played just a few days after Eddie Firmani had taken over as coach of the Cosmos from Gordon Bradley, and it is said that while it was going on he was still making the acquaintance of some of the players on the bench.