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Now he has opened every door
Jack Falla
June 27, 1983
At Golden Bay, high scorer Steve Zungul is Mr. Inside—and Mr. Outside
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June 27, 1983

Now He Has Opened Every Door

At Golden Bay, high scorer Steve Zungul is Mr. Inside—and Mr. Outside

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The Golden Bay Earthquakes moved astep closer to giving a natural disaster a good name when Forward Jan Goossen's goal gave them a 1-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Saturday night at Spartan Stadium in San Jos�. Off to the best start in their 10 years in the NASL, the Quakes approached a midweek game against Team America with a record of 6-2, second-best behind Vancouver in the league's Western Division and fourth-best in the 12-team league.

Though he was held goalless by Tampa Bay, one of the chief reasons for Golden Bay's early-season success has been the play, especially the scoring, of Striker Steve Zungul, the so-called Lord of All Indoors for his exploits in the Major Indoor Soccer League, who's playing outdoor soccer for the first time in nearly five years.

With his goal in a 3-1 win over the New York Cosmos on June 11 and an assist in a 2-1 loss at Seattle on June 15, Zungul at week's end had eight goals and six assists for 22 points, good for fifth place among NASL scorers and only nine points behind the Cosmos' league-leading Giorgio Chinaglia. And he had attained this status despite having played only eight games to Chinaglia's 12.

Indeed, it was after the Quakes had beaten the Cosmos that the 36-year-old Chinaglia, for five seasons the NASL's scoring champ, all but uttered a benediction over the 28-year-old Zungul. "There's no question in my mind he will be the next great striker in the league," said Chinaglia. "He did it in Europe, he did it in indoor soccer and now he's doing it again."

"After four years of playing only indoors, I felt I had something to prove," says Zungul. "People say, 'He's a great indoor player, but can he play outdoors?' To me that is like asking, 'Can he play real soccer?' I show them."

Yet Zungul (pronounced ZSHUN-gul) should not have felt obliged to prove anything. After starring for four-and-a-half seasons with the Yugoslav national team and for six seasons with Hajduk Split (a team for which he scored 250 goals in 350 games) in his country's first division, Zungul left Yugoslavia in 1978 to sidestep a law calling for 18 months' compulsory military service. He came to New York, where Coach Don Popovic, a Yugoslav and former Hajduk Split player, recruited him for the Arrows, a team in the then-new MISL. "I would rather have played outdoors," says Zungul, "but FIFA would not let me."

FIFA, the powerful sanctioning body of world soccer, honored a request from the Yugoslavian soccer federation that FIFA enforce a rule that a Yugoslavian soccer player can't play for a team outside his country until he's 28. Zungul was 24. FIFA, in effect, barred him from playing in the FIFA-affiliated NASL. But the MISL, at the time not a FIFA member, embraced Zungul, and in his four-and-a-half seasons with the Arrows he won four MISL scoring titles, led New York to four consecutive league championships and established himself as the MISL's alltime leading scorer with 419 goals and 222 assists.

"Goals, goals. I score so many goals I lose count," says Zungul, as though goals scored indoors are, for him, some sort of spurious soccer currency. "Inside is good game. Faster, with more shots, more goals. Is good game. Is O.K. But outdoors, outdoors is game I love to play."

In January of this year, Zungul, in the final year of a $150,000-a-year contract and asking more to re-sign than the cash-strapped Arrows could afford to pay him, was traded to Golden Bay. Golden Bay is one of three soccer teams playing both indoors, in the MISL, and outdoors, in the NASL. By now 28, Zungul was free of all Yugoslavian and FIFA strictures in the U.S., and the way was clear for the Lord of All Indoors to return to the outdoor game he loves.

To make matters better, a month after Zungul was traded, Popovic got the ax in New York and was hired almost immediately by Golden Bay owner Carl Berg, who says he was eager to "get Pop and Steve back together again." Zungul concurred, telling Berg that Pop was the best coach he could get.

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