NASL Fall Season Week 2: What to Watch For

Keeper Jon Busch and Indy Eleven look to go for two straight wins over FC Edmonton and keep rising up the table. Photograph by FC Edmonton

By JAKE NUTTING

nasl logoThe New York Cosmos (1-0-0, 3 Fall; 7-6-4, 27 Combined) and Indy Eleven (1-0-0, 3 Fall; 5-4-8 23 Combined) are hoping to build on their strong starts in last week’s NASL Fall Season openers. New York and Indy were the only teams to finish the opening weekend with three points, giving them an early lead.

With Miami FC’s (0-1-0, 0 Fall; 11-3-3; 36 Combined) record Spring Season, the Cosmos still have a way to go before they can challenge the South Florida side in the Combined Standings. Indy’s recent six-match unbeaten streak, however, has it within striking distance of fourth in the combined table. The Jacksonville Armada (0-0-1, 1 Fall; 6-4-7, 25 Combined) and San Francisco Deltas (0-0-1, 1 Fall; 7-4-6, 27 Combined) must start winning if they want to hold Indy off.

Puerto Rico Gives Vélez Mixed Voted of Confidence

On the surface, getting the interim tag removed from his title sounds like a confidence boost for Puerto Rico (0-0-1, 1 Fall; 1-9-7, 10 Combined) Coach Marco Vélez. PRFC President Tom Payne noted in the team’s news release, however, that the results must turn around if Vélez hopes to remain in the post next year. Since Vélez took over on May 18, Puerto Rico has lost five times, finished deadlocked in four matches and won just once. Puerto Rico was close to its second win of the year last week in North Carolina until it conceded penalty goal in stoppage time.

Jacksonville has gotten aggressive about remedying its scoring troubles thanks to the financial resources of the new owner Robert Palmer. In the last week, the Armada added the Irish striker Ciarán Kilduff, the Panamanian attacker Tony Taylor and acquired the former NASL Golden Boot winner Brian Shriver in a trade with North Carolina FC. Despite being in fourth in the Combined Standings, the Armada are tied with San Francisco for the second-fewest goals (18).

Indy Looks to Keep Rolling Against Eddies

After taking three points home from Edmonton (0-1-0, 0 Fall; 4-12-1, 13 Combined) in the fall opener, Indy will aim to do the same back at Michael Carroll Stadium. The lowly Eddies have posted seven losses in their last eight matches and Indy can exploit another matchup with the Canadian side to continue its rise up the standings. Indy’s last defeat was on June 10. Since then, Coach Tim Hankinson‘s team has won five of its last six matches. As a result of the midseason surge, Indy is two points out of a postseason position.

North Carolina Seems to have Miami’s Number

Shortly after dealing Shriver to the Armada, North Carolina (0-0-1, 1 Fall, 6-7-4, 22 Combined) picked up the Brazilian Renan Gorne on loan. Gorne, 21, joins North Carolina after bagging 31 goals for Brazilian Série A side Botafogo’s U-20 side last year. His impressive output earned a call up to Botafogo’s first team for one appearance. North Carolina travels to Spring Season champion Miami FC on Saturday, though that may not be as daunting a task as it seems. With two 1-1 draws and a 1-0 win in their last meeting, North Carolina is the only NASL team that has yet to lose to Miami. The Spring Season winners also seem vulnerable after dropping their Fall Season opener at New York and then losing out to the USL’s FC Cincinnati in the quarterfinal of the U.S. Open Cup.

Cosmos Without Ledesma for San Francisco Trip

The Cosmos head to the West Coast without the man who notched the winner in their previous trip to play the Deltas. Leading scorer Emmanuel Ledesma will miss the match after his red card in the fall opener. Others will have to pick up the slack on the offensive side as Javi Márquez and Juan Arango may still be unavailable while they wait to receive their visas and striker Irvin Herrera recovers from an injury suffered in the Gold Cup.

San Francisco appears to have put the disastrous performances in its final two Spring Season matches behind it. The team might have nicked a three-point result in Jacksonville last week if not for a controversial offside goal to wipe away a Tommy Heinemann goal. Heinemann has a respectable five-goal tally, but he failed to score in San Francisco first two matches against the Cosmos.