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As might have been guessed, Fort Lauderdale fielded its two hardest defenders, Fogarty and Auguste, and the battle plan was plain. Defend in depth from the mid-field and counterattack through Mueller and the tiny—at 5'2" the smallest athlete in the major leagues in the U.S.—Jeff Cacciatore from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. The Strikers would throw in occasional raids by Hudson and Cubillas.
Grimly, Fogarty took up his position alongside Chinaglia, and in the first half allowed him only two shots, one from a free kick that Fogarty had no control over. And for much of the first half Van der Elst, a skilled provider of high-quality feeds for Chinaglia, was blotted out by Auguste.
Play, though, was grindingly slow, with long periods at a near-walking pace, South American style. The temperature dictated that. But there were flashes of excellence, as when Mueller suddenly turned his back on Durgan, still a neophyte by Mueller standards, and slid a pass to Hudson, whose hard-driven shot was just over the bar. Occasionally the action came from individual duels, like the one between Angelo DiBernardo and Cacciatore, which the latter, wriggling his legs like a water beetle, won more often than not.
For the Strikers, Mueller—who might more appropriately be called Der Barrel than Der Bomber these days—made chances, as did Romero for the Cosmos. But the buildup by both sides was painfully slow. How else could it be in the appalling heat? It was a full 25 minutes before Chinaglia could break free from Fogarty, and then it was to center the ball for Romero, who blazed a shot over the bar at close range.
So it went in the first, grueling half, and it was clear even then that the first goal would be all-important. In the last 15 minutes of the half the Cosmos began, if not exactly to dominate, at least to take over more territory.
Then came a stunning blow to the Strikers. Five and a half minutes before halftime, Mueller limped off the field with a pulled thigh muscle. And, inexplicably it seemed, van der Hart decided to replace him with the young Forward Koos Waslander, instead of the more experienced Keith Weller of England. "I believed that Koos was more an attacking player," van der Hart would say. "Weller is a midfielder." As it was, Waslander played ineffectively. More fuel for the flames back in Lauderdale.
Almost as soon as the second half started, just after Waslander had missed from point-blank range, came the first goal from Romero. Now, it seemed, the Strikers had to come out, to throw everything into the game. But without Mueller they only sputtered. Indeed, they looked ready to be overwhelmed.
Everybody except Fogarty, that is, who earned his money. A full 70 minutes went by before Chinaglia was allowed to make his first clear shot on goal. Unhappily for Fogarty, one was enough. At 70:06, Giorgio made the Cosmos' lead 2-0, driving the ball home into the near corner of the net from just inside the box. In the heat, there was no way for the Strikers to come back.
And then, three minutes from the end, the frosting on the cake, provided, appropriately, by Chinaglia. Uncharacteristically he had hit a post earlier. Then he missed at close range, driving the ball straight at Jan van Beveran in the Strikers' goal. Roberto Cabanas headed the rebound back to Chinaglia, though, and this time he made no mistake: 3-0 and exit the Strikers. For the New Yorsey Cosmos, it was their third Soccer Bowl victory in four years. And Chinaglia, the recipient of the MVP award for the playoffs, clearly was entitled to the honor. And that's no phrop.