HONORING HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE ZUNGUL: PART TWO
Like a birthday, it seemed to have happened just about once a year to Steve Zungul.
That's when he didn't record a goal or an assist in an indoor soccer game.
During the first eight Major Indoor Soccer League seasons of his Hall of Fame career, it occurred only nine times.
That’s how dominant and effective he was.
The Baltimore Blast and Houston Summit accomplished the rare feat of holding Zungul pointless within days twice during his Hall of Fame career (Zungul was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Frisco, Texas on Saturday).
"Zungul is a magnificent player," Blast head coach Kenny Cooper, Sr. said then. "We try to play him man-to-man. You have to realize he's going to get his opportunities. You've got to play a floating zone around him."
Zungul had played for the New York Arrows, Golden Bay Earthquakes, San Diego Sockers and Tacoma Stars (through the 1986-87 season).
Here is a quick rundown of the rarest of Zungul's pointless matches (through the 1986-87 campaign):
Houston 9, New York 1 (Jan. 2, 1979)
Only two games into his indoor career, Zungul was stopped cold, which happened to be the worst loss in Arrows' history. The game also happened to coincide with the debut of a 17-year-old forward named Branko Segota, who went on to enjoy a Hall of Fame career of his own (Indoor Soccer Hall of Fame and Canadian Soccer Association Hall of Fame).
Houston 11, New York 4 (Jan. 4, 1979)
Two games in a row? Believe it. It turned out to be the only time in Zungul's career, up until that point, that he was held without a goal in two successive matches. His pointless streak eventually was stretched to 144 minutes and 21 seconds.
Baltimore 4, New York 2 (Feb. 13, 1981)
These two games against the Summit Soccer must have motivated Zungul because it was more than two years - or 76 matches - before he was thwarted again. A 26-game goal-scoring streak also was snapped on - Friday the 13th.
Buffalo 8, New York 4 (March 7, 1981)
When they were in the league, the Buffalo Stallions used to give the Arrows and the Lord of All Indoors fits on several occasions, they limited him to one goal or an assist, or less. In this game, they hit the jackpot. Interesting note: The next day Zungul tied a league record by scoring seven goals in an 8-7 triumph over the Chicago Horizon.
Phoenix 5, Golden Bay 3 (April 8, 1983)
With the Earthquakes already eliminated from a playoff berth, Zungul had only personal goals to shoot for, such as a fourth consecutive scoring title. The only problem was that all of his shots were stopped in this game.
San Diego 4, St. Louis 3 (Dec. 7, 1984)
This is a rarity: Zungul's team winning a match while he was held scoreless. Zungul failed to write his name on the scoresheet for the first time in 44 regular-season contests.
New York 5, San Diego 3 (Dec. 21, 1984)
Can you believe it? The Cosmos, then a shell of its outdoor self, blanked Zungul, in San Diego, of all places. He took eight shots but wound up firing blanks.
Baltimore 3, San Diego 2 (Oct. 25, 1985)
Zungul once said, "You can't be perfect every night." No, you can't. Zungul failed to connect on seven attempts as Bruce Savage, Tim Wittman and Franz Mathieu took turns stopping him in the 1985-86 season opener in Baltimore. "Always, I'm making new record," Zungul said. As it turned out, Zungul was blanked in the same Baltimore Civic Center where he enjoyed one of his greatest moments when he collected seven assists in the Sockers' 14-2 rout of the Blast in Game Four of the 1985 MISL championship series.
San Diego 3, Los Angeles 2 (Nov. 1, 1985)
It seemed that Zungul's scoreless games seemed to come in bunches. This time he failed put the ball in the net in two of three matches. The only worse skid up until that time was in his initial MISL season. Zungul was limited by an ailing Achilles tendon. In case you were wondering, Zungul was at the top of his game in the match between those two contests, scoring twice and adding three assists in an 8-6 win over the Cleveland Force on Oct. 27.
Michael Lewis, the editor of FrontRowSoccer.com, can be followed on Twitter at @SoccerWriter. Lewis can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org His book Alive and Kicking: The incredible, but true story of the Rochester Lancers, recently was published. It can be purchased at https://tinyurl.com/2p8rzhpy.lk. His sequel, STILL AND ALIVE AND KICKING: The story of the 21st century Rochester Lancers, will be published soon. It will have many features about indoor soccer and MASL players.