By Michael Lewis
It was late in the first quarter of the San Diego Sockers encounter against the host Baltimore Blast in Game Four of the Major Indoor Soccer League championship series on May 25, 1985.
Kaz Deyna, the Sockers star midfielder, was looking for a goal.
Ed Goren, the CBS producer, was looking for a commercial.
Both men got their wish.
At the 13:55 of the period Deyna scored to give the Sockers lead. There then was a timeout and Goren had his commercial.
The Sockers had no problems scoring goals that day, and Goren had no problems filling in the commercials. In fact, the national telecast went quite smoothly – on the air and in truck parked outside the Baltimore Civic Center.
The Sockers demolished the Blast, 14-2, in Baltimore’s home venue.
Yours truly didn’t have a ringside seat to the execution, which gave San Diego a 3-1 lead in the series, which it clinched in its next game at home on May 28. But I had a unique view. I was inside the truck taking notes on a behind the scenes story for Soccer America.
While this writer got a lesson or two about TV production, the Sockers gave the Blast many lessons in what turned into a surprising 14-2 rout before 9,084 fans. Steve Zungul, Lord of All Indoors, scored but once but set up seven goals while eclipsing several records he himself set years earlier. ”I played defense, midfielder and offense,” Zungul said. ” I did everything that people who understand soccer like to see.” Added Baltimore head coach Kenny Cooper: “I’ve never seen a performance like that.” Jean Willrich finished with four goals, Brian Quinn with a hat-trick.
Goren and his crew were up against their lack of knowledge of the game and time.
Despite having only one indoor game before this one under the crew’s belt – Baltimore’s 10-6 victory over San Diego two nights prior – CBS pulled off an enjoyable telecast.
Before kickoff, Goren’s wish was that the Saturday match would be a duplicate of the 10-6 result. “It had everything,” he said.
Goren said he had no problem working his first indoor soccer game.
“I grew up in a family where hockey was part of the sporting world,” he said. “My father was the [New York] Rangers public relations director. At the beginning of the game, we’re going to have an explanation of the rules. We’re going to make it the simplest analogy as possible. It’s not that different from hockey.”
Goren’s prime concern was beating the clock. They had to be off the air by 4 p.m. ET (it was a 1:30 p.m. start) for a golf tournament.
“If there’s a certain amount of pressure, it’s getting the game started and getting the game off the air on time,” he said.
They were supposed to have about a half dozen workers in the front end of the truck directing the on-air traffic, though as many nine people were there at times during the game. Goren, director Bob Dunphy and associate director Bob Rowe did most of the talking.
In front of Dunphy were 26 monitors – through six field cameras — to capture different angles and instant replays. In the middle of the wall, there were two large color scenes. The one on the left was the actual broadcast monitor, the right one was the probable next scene.
There was plenty of preparation before the game, such as getting mug shot of each other – the Blast’s Kenny Cooper was easy, but it was a chore to get Newman in the proper pose. Finally, they captured Newman, who wasn’t smiling. “Smile, smile, smile,” Dunphy said, although Newman couldn’t hear him.
Dunphy did get a perfect shot of Newman. “Notice how we got the MISL [logo on the field] in the back,” he said.
“Quit bragging, Dunphy,” a colleague replied.
At 3:52 p.m., the game ends, with eight minutes to spare. That was enough to have one final commercial. Color announcer Kyle Rote interviewed Newman and Willrich.
The telecast finished by 4 p.m.
“Great job, great job,” Goren said. we had everything but a game.”
Time for a drink? A well-deserved mean.? Not this time. The crew packed up and headed for the airport. Their flight to New York was scheduled for 5 p.m.
“When you’re on the road every week, you want to get home,” Goren said.
So, do sportswriters, as this one need to catch his flight back to New York as well.