NASL Fall Season Week 3: What to Watch For

Nazmi Albadawi and North Carolina FC have climbed into the top four in the NASL combined standings after a win over Miami last week. Photograph, Miami FC

nasl logoIt’s still early days in the NASL Fall Season, but things are not looking good for the Spring Season champions at the moment. Miami FC (0-2-0, 0 Fall; 11-4-3, 36 Combined) is the only team that has failed to record a point in the first two weeks of action, leaving others to stake their claim. Fortunately for Miami, it still has a six-point cushion over the second-place San Francisco Deltas (1-0-1, 4 Fall, 8-4-6, 30 Combined).

The other NASL team based in Florida has also started slowly. After picking up one point in its first two matches, the Jacksonville Armada (0-1-1, 1 Fall; 6-5-7, 25 Combined) has fallen out of the top four in the Combined Standings. The Armada does have a chance to remedy its slip this week as it travels to the team that leaped it on the table, North Carolina FC 1-0-1, 4 Fall; 7-7-4, 25 Combined).

Cosmos Get Back Ledesma

Edmonton (1-1-0, 2 Fall; 5-12-1, 16) is aiming to show last week’s emphatic win at Indy Eleven was no fluke as they host the New York Cosmos (1-1-0, 3 Fall, 7-5-6, 27 Combined) on Friday. Even after last week’s three-goal performance, the Eddies still rank last in the league with 15 goals. Creating has not been the issue, as midfielder Ben Fisk is tied for a league-leading 32 scoring chances created and has averaged four chances in the last four matches. Finding someone to consistently finish those chances remains the most important task for Edmonton.

The Cosmos hope the return of leading scorer Emmanuel Ledesma can provide a course correction after last week’s loss in San Francisco. Youngster Eric Calvillo‘s current hot streak started in Edmonton in the spring finale as he helped the Cosmos edge the Eddies with the winning goal. Calvillo created the scoring chance that led to New York’s lone goal last week.

Puerto Rico Goes for Third Win

Buoyed by the confidence of being named Puerto Rico’s (1-0-1, 4 Fall; 2-9-7, 13 Combined) full-time coach last week, Marco Vélez led his side to a narrow win in Jacksonville. The victory was Puerto Rico’s second of the year and first since June. This week, Vélez’s team hosts another team trying to keep its momentum going after a rough patch. The Deltas came out on top over the Cosmos thanks to Tommy Heinemann‘s team-leading sixth goal of the year, but newcomer Dagoberto also had a huge impact. Dagoberto drew the penalty for Heinemann to convert and recorded the assist on the other tally in the match.

Miami Stumbling in the Fall

Miami’s place in the postseason is already secure, but the reputation it built up in the Spring Season and throughout its run in the U.S Open Cup may be diminished. Alessandro Nesta‘s side exited the Open Cup with a loss to the USL’s FC Cincinnati and has lost its first two matches of the fall. Miami only lost two times in the spring. Indy Eleven (1-1-0, 4 Fall; 5-5-8, 23 Combined) is unlikely to make it easy on Miami. While Indy did fall to the Eddies last week, its six-match unbeaten run before that shows it’s on an upward trend.

North Carolina and Jacksonville Jockey for Fourth

North Carolina continued its unbeaten run against Miami by notching an impressive 3-2 win over the Spring Season champions at home. Saturday will be the first time North Carolina and the Jacksonville Armada have met since the trade that sent former NASL Golden Boot winner Brian Shriver to Jacksonville, and Jonathan Glenn and Danny Barrow to North Carolina. Glenn tallied a goal in North Carolina’s win last week. Shriver has yet to make an offensive contribution as Jacksonville was blanked by Puerto Rico last week. With the second lowest goal total in the league (18), the Armada has now slipped outside of the top four in the combined standings.