The Major Soccer League's all-time greatest player Steve Zungul seems to be in purgatory. It should be the MSL's New Year's resolution to get him out.
Zungul spent 13 years making MSL history. He has scored 1,123 points, more than anyone is ever likely to match. Besides that mark, he holds the regular-season record for most goals in a season (108) -- the closest guy to him in a 40-game season is former Blast forward Joe Fink, who scored 51. He is the league leader in assists for a season (68). He has the highest goals-per-game average in a season, 2.8. He has the league's two longest goal-scoring streaks -- 26 games each in 1979-80 and 1980-81. And the longest point-scoring streak (76 games, set from 1978 to 1981).
He is the league leader career-wise in goals (652), in per-game average (1.6), in assists (471). In MSL playoff history, he holds all-time records for most points (189), most assists (75) and most game-winning goals (14).
In 1985 he scored nine points, matching his own single playoff game record, in the Arena against the Blast.
That is not the entire list, but the picture is clear. Zungul is the "Lord of All Indoors," but given the way the MSL has so far chosen to remember him, he might as well be just another player named Steve.
Earlier this season, in an emotional ceremony, San Diego retired the jersey numbers of two of its former players: Jean Willrich and Kaz Deyna. No one mentioned Zungul, who concluded his career in San Diego in 1989-90.
"It's not for us to retire Steve's number," said San Diego coach Ron Newman. "Steve didn't do enough for San Diego. He was with us 3 1/2 years. He was with Tacoma nearly that long [2 1/2 ]. He made his name with the New York Arrows. I know they're out of existence, but it's not our place to do something. I think Steve Zungul belongs to the league."
Newman suggests the league name the award given to its leading goal scorer The Steve Zungul Award. It is a good idea. As Blast coach Kenny Cooper has said more than once, the MSL needs its history. "Zungul," says Cooper, "opened a lot of doors forus . . . and he is 'The Lord of All Indoors.' I think Ron's idea is great."
MSL commissioner Earl Foreman, who is in Switzerland with the St. Louis Storm, could not be reached, but deputy commissioner John Borozzi said he liked the idea.
"It's an idea that has validity," said Borozzi. "The guy should be honored, and I'll broach it with the commissioner when he gets back."
When the league comes here in February for its midseason meetings and the MSL All-Star Game, it should take action on Newman's suggestion. Zungul deserves to be remembered by the MSL, not left in a purgatory for the forgotten.
* ON FIRE: Cleveland forward Zoran Karic is hot, hot, hot. In the Crunch's last eight games, Karic has 30 points. During the weekend, he earned MSL Offensive Player of the Week honors with five goals and four assists in games against San Diego and Dallas. Friday, in Dallas, Karic took 20 shots, one short of the league record set by Tatu in 1988.
* ROOKIE ACHIEVEMENTS: Rookie Kris Kelderman moved into the Blast's starting lineup with a bang last weekend. Kelderman had two goals and one assist, including the game-winning goal in Tacoma. Fellow Blast rookie Doug Miller got his first career assist, and it was on Kelderman's game-winner. In Dallas, rookie Nick Stavrou notched his first two career goals in the Sidekicks' 8-7 win over Cleveland.
* DEFENSIVE HAT TRICK: Dallas goalkeeper Joe Papaleo became the first keeper this season to win three games in a weekend. Against Wichita, Cleveland and Tacoma he faced a total of 137 shots and made 48 saves to pull Dallas (11-6) into a virtual tie with Wichita (10-5) for first place in the league.
* OOPS AND OOPS AGAIN: The MSL's Hotline number was incorrectly reported here last week. For those who want the latest updates on scores and standings, the correct number to call is 410-347-7630.
Also, it was Rod Castro who had a 10-game point-scoring streak on the line this week, not some unknown fellow named Rod Hirmez. Unfortunately, Castro's streak came to an end at 12 games Sunday, in the Blast's 4-3 overtime loss to San Diego.
* MSL-LANIA: St. Louis midfielder Branko Segota became only the second player in history to score 800 points in a career, while his teammate Preki notched career point 600 . . . The Blast's Joe Koziol has 11 goals, seven assists for 18 points in 18 games this season. Previously, he had 10 goals, five assists in 50 games in two seasons at Cleveland . . . San Diego's Paul Wright has 15 goals, three assists in the team's 15 games . . . The Tacoma Stars have had to play their last two games without Bill Crook, Ralph Black, Neil Megson and Joe Waters, their starting four defenders, who are all injured.