The Pittsburgh Riverhounds host the Rochester Rhinos this Saturday at Highmark Stadium, and the home team will punctuate the United Soccer League action by celebrating Pittsburgh’s old indoor franchise, the Spirit.
The Spirit had two stints, 1978-80 and 1981-86. The Major Indoor Soccer League had lots of elite players, because many could make more money playing indoors in America than outdoors in Europe.
Enter Paul Child (England) and Stan Terlecki (Poland).
Child scored 140 goals in five seasons with the Spirit. Terlecki scored 184 goals in four seasons. (That’s according to Wikipedia. Finding “official” MISL statistics is a dubious proposition, given that the league folded in 1992.)
Child was a better leader and teammate than Terlecki.
Terlecki was a pain in the backside, but often electrified. He scored 74 goals in 43 games in 1981-82 and was named MISL co-MVP.
The Spirit had some good teams (32-16 in 1983-84; that was without Terlecki), but never made it past the MISL semifinals.
The Spirit averaged 8,278 fans at the Civic Arena in 1983-84, while the Penguins averaged 6,839.
The late Edward J. DeBartolo owned both teams, and reportedly gave thought to ditching the Penguins and keeping the Spirit. But along came Mario Lemieux.
Child will be at Saturday’s Riverhounds game, as will former players Dave MacKenzie and John O’Hara, former coach John Kowalski and former trainer Jim Kittelberger.
The Spirit provided a great era in Pittsburgh sports. Very entertaining.