By Michael Lewis
Forty-one years ago today, on Aug. 22, 1980, the original Rochester Lancers played their final home game, losing to the struggling Atlanta Chiefs, 2-0.
No one realized at the time it was the last time they would perform at Holleder Stadium in a tumultuous season that included owner in-fighting, a financial crisis, a team meltdown and a coaching change, among other problems.
This was what I wrote in the Aug. 23, 1980 editions of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle:
It simply was a case of too many Chiefs and not enough Lancers at Holleder Stadium last night.
The Rochester Lancers continued their late-season dive and completed one of the most disappointing home seasons in their 11 years in the North American Soccer League as they dropped a 2-0 decision to the lowly Atlanta Chiefs.
The Lancers fell to 12-19 while Atlanta improved to 7-24.
David Byrne and Keith Furphy scored goals while goalkeeper Lou Cioffi, who was on trial with the Lancers earlier in the season, recorded the Chiefs’ first shutout and first road win of the season in 15 attempts.
Rochester finished with an 8-8 home mark as many of the 6,393 fans booed the team after the final whistle.
“We played bad,” Lancers midfielder Gene Strenicer said. “I think we outplayed them, but they played smart soccer. You can’t win games without scoring.”
The Lancers outshot the Chiefs, 24-11, but lost whatever killer instinct they had after the visitors scored their first goal.
After the game, the Lancers received their paychecks in their locker room. They were expecting two checks but received only one.
“Where’s the other paycheck?” midfielder Laszlo Harsanyi asked no one in particular. “I can’t believe it. I got only one paycheck and they owe me for expenses [housing] for two months.”
Two days later on Aug. 24, 1980, the original Lancers played their final North American Soccer League game against the Cosmos at Giants Stadium. But that’s another story for another time (stay tuned for that one on Tuesday).