In FireStingDoug's continuing series of trips down memory lane this edition takes a look back at the May 17, 1981 battle between the Sting and the New York Cosmos. A match that was televised on WGN TV.
The Cosmos had world class talent but the Sting seemed to own them through the years holding an overall 4-1 all time lead in the series. The May 17 game at Giants Stadium would entrench the Sting as the best team in the league with a victory.
Derek Spalding and Arno Steffenhagen both missed the game due to injury but eighteen minutes in Karl Heinz Granitza scored on another free kick chance (this one from 20 yards out) to give the Sting a 1-0 lead. The Sting sporting a unique all black kit in lieu of the customary black top with yellow shorts celebrated Pato Margetic's 21st birthday as the Argentine also scored in the first half to put the Sting up 2-0. Margetic's goal was one of the best I've ever seen as he dribbled through defenders to get the ball to Granitza, who one touched it back to a streaking Pato who then beat two defenders firing a low shot past the keeper from 23 yards out.
The Cosmos got back into the game as Francois Van Der Elst scored to narrow the margin to 2-1. Just seconds into the second half New York was awared a penalty kick which Giorgio Chinaglia converted to tie the game.
Just before the spot kick was taken Sting goalkeeper Phil Parkes went ballistic in protesting the call and received a yellow card. The second half was loaded with yellow cards and Ingo Peter was issued a red card after retaliating on a chippy foul from Roberto Cabanas. The Sting would have to play the remainder of the game a man down and without their coach as Willy Roy was sent to locker room after protesting Peter's red card.
The Cosmos dominated the remainder of the second half but Parkes was outstanding in net, holding off the charge and getting the game into overtime. With New York carrying all of the momentum and the Sting playing a man down on the road things seemed bleak until the Sting was awarded a free kick from roughly the same spot where Granitza socred in the first half.
Granitza did it again, sending the kick over the Cosmos wall and into the net for a 3-2 Sting victory that most fans still remember today. All New York goalkeeper Hubert Birkenmeier could do was throw his hands in the air in amazement.
From May 17 on, the Sting led the Central Division for the remainder of the season and didn't look back. This game put the entire NASL on notice that the Sting would be a dominant side for the rest of the year. With their fourth win in a row, the Sting's record improved to 6-2.