NASL Fall Season Week 4: What to Watch For

Jairo Puerto zipping by Zach Steinberger in Puerto Rico's 2-1 midweek win over the Jacksonville Armada. Puerto Rico sits first in the young Fall Season. Photograph by NASL.

nasl logoMidweek action has helped the NASL’s last-place team from the Spring Season take hold of the top spot in the Fall Season standings in Week 4 of the competition. Puerto Rico FC (2-0-2, 8 points Fall; 3-9-8, 17 Combined) edged the Jacksonville Armada (0-2-2, 2 Fall; 6-6-8, 26 Combined) in a hard-fought 2-1 away result on Wednesday night, leaving the spring cellar-dwellers in first heading into the weekend.

On Tuesday, Miami FC (2-2-0, 6 Fall; 13-4-3, 42 Combined) kept the momentum of its win a few days earlier going with a 1-0 victory over North Carolina FC (1-1-2, 5 Fall; 7-8-5, 26 Combined). Thanks to the two quick wins, the spring champions have put aside their two loses to open the fall and reestablished their reputation with a move into second place.

Cosmos and Indy Clash Again

Indy Eleven’s (1-2-0, 3 Fall; 5-6-8, 23 Combined) sluggish start to the Fall Season has coincided with the absence of leading scorer Justin Braun (7 goals, 4 assists). While Braun has been recovering from an ankle injury, Indy has dropped its last two matches by identical 3-1 score lines. Braun could be in line for a return this weekend as the team travels to face the New York Cosmos (1-1-1, 4 Fall; 7-5-7, 28 Combined). The Cosmos are returning home from an underwhelming two-match road trip in which they only managed one point at Edmonton and fell apart in San Francisco. New York will be aiming to cap the night off on a high note as it could be longtime midfielder Danny Szetela‘s 100th appearance with the team.

Deltas Hope to Slow Down Potent North Carolina

North Carolina’s fast-paced offensive start hit a snag with Tuesday’s shutout against Miami. Coach Colin Clarke‘s squad opened the Fall Season with six goals in its first three matches, although it was only able to secure a win in one of those matches. Meanwhile, the San Francisco Deltas (1-0-2, 5 Fall; 8-4-7, 31 Combined) remain one of only two teams yet to lose a match in the Fall Season. The hard-nosed defensive effort San Francisco displayed throughout most of the Spring Season finally returned last week as it blanked Puerto Rico on the road to earn a point. San Francisco will need a similar showing to halt North Carolina’s capable attack.

Puerto and Eddies Looking to Establish Themselves

Both Edmonton (1-1-1, 4 Fall; 5-12-2, 17 Combined) and Puerto Rico are aiming to take full advantage of the NASL’s split-season format after finishing at the bottom of the Spring Season standings. At the moment, Puerto Rico has found more early success as it currently sits in pole position on the fall table, but Edmonton has also strung together a respectable start. If not for a sensational strike from Emmanuel Ledesma last week, the Eddies would have recorded back-to-back wins for the first time this year.

Armada Slump Continues

The promise of a positive Spring Season has quickly dissipated for Jacksonville. The Armada are the only team in the league without a win in the Fall Season, but signs of trouble have been there for a while as its last win was on July 1 against a struggling Edmonton side. Narrow results are no longer falling in Jacksonville’s favor as they did in the spring. Along with two draws, Jacksonville has fallen twice by one-goal margins. The Armada will need to find a way to improve promptly as it matches up with a Miami side that appears to have regained its stride with two convincing wins this week.