NASL Fall Season Week 11: What to Watch For

The San Francisco Deltas prevented Miami from securing the top seed on Wednesday in a 1-1 draw. They'll need another sturdy showing to do the same on Saturday. Photo by Miami FC

nasl logoThe San Francisco Deltas (4-1-5, 17 Fall; 11-5-10, 43 Combined) prevented Miami (7-2-2, 23 Fall; 18-4-5, 59 Combined) from clinching the top overall seed in the postseason with a hard-fought draw on Wednesday night to kick off Week 11 of the Fall Season. Miami claiming the coveted top seed still feels like an inevitably at this point, as does it taking home the Fall Season title.

With the final month of the North American Soccer League‘s regular season upon us, it is now obvious that every other team is simply battling to find out who will join Miami in the postseason. The chances of any team catching Miami in either Fall or Combined Standings are getting slimmer and slimmer. Teams will duke it out for the second, third and fourth spots in the combined stands in order to find a way into The Championship, the league’s four-team postseason tournament.

Eddies and Armada Aim to End Droughts

Edmonton‘s (3-4-3, 12 Fall; 7-15-4, 25 Combined) postseason hopes are dwindling fast thanks to back-to-back losses. The Eddies rank second from the bottom in the combined standings and sit middle of the pack in the Fall Season race as Miami closes in on clinching the crown. Getting a result in Jacksonville on Friday will be a tough ask without attacking midfielder Dustin Corea because of international duty. The Salvadorean leads the team with four assists and tallied its last two goals. Meanwhile, the Armada (2-4-5, 10 Fall; 8-9-10, 34 Combined) will be hoping to just find the back of the net after failing to do so during its three-match winless streak. Jacksonville has a mental edge over the Eddies — it’s already secured three wins against the Canadian side.

Puerto Rico Playing for Pride

Puerto Rico‘s (2-4-4, 10 Fall; 7-15-4, 25 Combined) first two matches since returning from being sidelined by Hurricane Maria have been narrow one-goal losses to teams high up in the table. A win from either Jacksonville or New York this week would shut Puerto Rico out of the postseason picture in the combined standings. Couple that with the fact that Miami is a couple results away from locking up the fall title and it becomes clear that Puerto Rico is playing for pride. Saturday’s contest against North Carolina (4-2-6, 18 Fall; 10-9-9, 39 Combined) will be the first of likely several matches Puerto Rico will have to cede hosting rights as the island recovers from the storm. Puerto Rico’s three remaining home matches after this weekend are likely to be played at neutral sites, though the team is still holding out hope it can return home for at least one. Having notched two wins by a combined score of 7-0 in its last two matches, North Carolina is unlikely to make it easy on Puerto Rico.

Cosmos Going for Two in a Row

The New York Cosmos (2-3-6, 12 Fall; 8-7-12, 36 Combined) and Indy Eleven (3-6-2, 11 Fall; 7-10-10, 31 Combined) both earned much-needed wins the last time they took the field. New York grabbed sole possession of fourth in the combined standings with a win over Puerto Rico to snap a nine-match winless run. It’s still too early for the Cosmos to rest, though, as Jacksonville sits two points back. Indy could also finish the weekend two points back of the Cosmos if it can pull off a win at home. Forward Eamon Zayed did his best on Wednesday to wipe away the embarrassment of last weekend’s 5-0 loss to North Carolina with a two-goal shift to lift Indy to its first win in three matches.

Miami on the Verge

At this point, any point taken from Miami feels like a victory. San Francisco will hope Wednesday’s 1-1 draw with Miami will be a turning point in its season series with the NASL frontrunners. The expansion side is unbeaten in its last five matches and sits comfortably in second on the Combined Season table, but the two lopsided losses at the close of the Spring Season in which it conceded 10 goals to Miami still leaves doubt about San Francisco’s championship prospects. As if Miami needed any more firepower, attacker Vincenzo Rennella notched a goal in his return to the starting lineup after an injury in July took him out of commission.