RICHFIELD, Ohio — Practically the only thing certain about Sunday night's strange and controversial Major Indoor Soccer League game was that the Sockers scored eight goals and the Cleveland Force had six.
It is not, however, altogether correct to say the Sockers beat the Blast, 8-6, because Cleveland has protested the game.
The Force believe it was robbed of having a power play for about 2 1/2 minutes in the second quarter and that Hugo Perez scored a goal when he should have been in the penalty box.
So what else is new in the wacky world of the MISL?
"This goes to show that the game still has a long way to go in my opinion," said Kevin Crow of the Sockers.
Except for a 10-minute delay when the officials tried to sort things out, Sunday's game was fast-paced and exciting.
Playing with Achilles tendinitis, Socker forward Steve Zungul scored two goals and assisted on three. Force midfielder Kai Haaskibi had an assist and four goals, including a floater from nearly 100 feet.
Ade Coker broke a 6-6 tie and scored the game-winner on a right-footed volley from inside the penalty box with 4:20 to play. Jacques Ladouceur scored an empty-net goal with 55 seconds to play to seal the Sockers' first victory of the season.
Sunday's 2-hour and 32-minute game had 70 shots on goal (41 by Cleveland), 10 power play attempts (1 for 8 for Cleveland and 0 for 2 for San Diego), 41 fouls (23 for San Diego), 14 penalties and an altercation that got the whole wild mess started.
With 4:09 gone by in the second quarter, Force forward Andy Chapman and Socker goalkeeper Jim Gorsek got tangled near the goal. Chapman said that Gorsek took a swing at him and Gorsek said Chapman tried to push him into the boards.
Then, Socker defenseman Fernando Clavijo pushed Chapman from behind. Force defender Dennis Mepham went after Clavijo. Players from both benches rushed onto the field.
When order was restored, officials Toros Kibritjian and Esse Baharmast began what turned out to be more like a summit meeting.
Baharmast, it might be recalled, was the official who gave Socker Coach Ron Newman approval to use Ladouceur in the shootout against the Minnesota Strikers in last year's hotly debated playoff game. That was the game in which MISL Commissioner Francis Dale turned a San Diego victory into a defeat while the team was flying home from Minnesota.
While the officials were meeting on the field and starting to figure out who should be penalized, a replay of the altercation was shown twice on the board.
As might be expected, the crowd of 12,436 fans at the Richfield Coliseum went wild each time.
During this delay, the public address announcer twice asked Herbert Silva to go to the press table. No Mr. Silva. The third time, Silva was identified as the MISL director of officials.
Silva, who happened to be at the game Sunday night, went to the press table.
Finally, the announcements.
Chapman and Bernie James of the Force received two-minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. Cleveland was also given a two-minute bench penalty.
Jean Willrich received a two-minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and the Sockers also received a two-minute bench penalty.
Then came the shocker. Socker defender George Katakalidis was given a five-minute intentional dangerous play penalty and a red card, which carries an automatic ejection.
Only one problem. Katakalidis was not on the field during the altercation. Clavijo was not penalized.
"I guess I have an ugly face that looks like it's been in scraps," Katakalidis said. "Maybe that's why they chose me. I saw they were so confused and decided not to argue."
Katakalidis was playing with a sore back and the Sockers probably figured they were better off losing him for the game rather than Clavijo. With the fans booing, Katakalidis clapped and waved as he left the field.
In total, the Sockers received nine minutes in penalties and the Force six.
Once the players were in the penalty box, the confusion intensified.
Chapman, James and Willrich were let out of the penalty box 1 minute and 27 seconds after they should have been. The Force says Perez was on the field for 1 minute and 2 seconds when he should have been in the box serving Katakalidis' five-minute penalty.
Force Coach Timo Liekoski says Newman sent Waad Hirmez to the penalty box after Perez scored because he realized the Sockers should have had a man in the box. Perez's goal gave the Sockers a 3-1 lead.
"I thank Timo very much for thinking I was that clever," a confused Newman said.
Silva admitted there was an error in not allowing the players out of the box at the right time. However, he said that when more than two players are in the penalty box a player cannot get out of until play is stopped. Therefore, the Force did not necessarily have exactly a three-minute man advantage coming to them.
But it appears Cleveland should have had a lot more time than they got.
"I will not make a judgment until I look at the films," Silva said.
As they fly back to San Diego this morning, the Sockers have an 8-6 victory. But strange things have happened to the Sockers while they are airborne.