SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Sports Arena sure looked familiar to former Socker defender and current Chicago Sting Coach Erich Geyer Saturday.
But in the Sting's 5-4 victory in double-overtime against the Sockers, San Diego sure didn't resemble the championship teams Eric Geyer remembers.
Sting forward Frank Klopas scored from inside the penalty area after 52 seconds of the second 15-minute overtime to give the Sting (6-11) the victory in the first double overtime game ever played in the Sports Arena.
On the winning goal, Socker goalkeeper Zoltan Toth came out of the net and left the goal wide open.
It was the first Sting victory in nine games at San Diego and the first victory against the Sockers in 11 Major Indoor Soccer League games.
It was the eighth overtime game of the season for the Sockers, who also blew a three-goal lead in their overtime loss to Baltimore Wednesday. San Diego (8-8 on the season) is 2-6 in overtime.
When Geyer played in San Diego, a .500 record was unheard of.
Geyer--known as the "Wolfman" during his days in San Diego--played on teams that demolished clubs after taking an early 3-0 lead. His Socker teams did not allow tired teams with losing records to stay in the game.
And they definitely didn't allow those teams to beat them.
Yet, on Saturday night, that's exactly what happened to the sluggish and struggling Sockers against a tired Sting team that was playing without Drago, its leading scorer.
After blowing a 3-0 second-quarter lead, the Sockers took a 4-3 advantage on a power-play goal by Hugo Perez with 42 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Sting forward Karl-Heinz Granitza scored a power-play goal with 1:38 remaining in the game for a 4-4 tie. It was some homecoming for Geyer, who received a standing ovation when he was introduced to the crowd of 10,005.
Unlike the old days, Geyer didn't wave a white towel to stir up the fans during the introductions. But he did raise his fists in a victory salute. And like the old days, the crowd cheered wildly.
Geyer played for the Sockers from 1981-85. He was a referee in the MISL last season and started this season as an assistant coach with the Sting.
When Willy Roy, longtime Sting coach, was relieved of his duties last month, Geyer was named head coach.
"It was the greatest Christmas present I ever got in my life," said Geyer, who was named the coach on Dec. 23. So far Geyer is 5-4.
"Being named the coach still hasn't sunk in yet," Geyer said. "I've been too busy.
"The hardest part is being put in a position which takes a lot of experience. I've been fortunate to have a good teacher in Ron Newman and to work with Willy Roy."
Geyer was a free spirit as player, but he says he's a disciplinarian as a coach.
"I believe discipline is No. 1," Geyer said. "I want to see 100% discipline and determination."
He got it Saturday night.
Chicago, having played five games in nine days, was tired after playing at home Friday night and flying to San Diego Saturday. "This was the toughest stretch of the season for us," Geyer said.
But it was some homecoming Saturday night.