NASL Fall Season Week 8: What to Watch For

North Carolina's Steven Miller fends off Indy Elven defender Nemanja Vukovic in Wednesday's loss. Despite the defeat, North can still catch San Francisco in the combined race this week. Photograph by Matt Schlotzhauer

nasl logoAfter forcing the postponement of three of four North American Soccer League matches scheduled for last weekend, Hurricane Irma’s impact is still being felt. Miami FC (5-2-1, 16 Fall; 16-4-4, 52 Combined) and the San Francisco Deltas (2-1-3, 9 Fall; 9-5-8, 35 Combined) will once again have to wait to take the field again as Riccardo Silva Stadium remains closed while South Florida recovers from Irma’s damage.

Miami is in no danger of losing its grip on the top spots in the Fall and Combined Season tables any time soon, though the Deltas could see both the Jacksonville Armada (2-3-2, 8 Fall; 8-7-8, 32 Combined) and North Carolina FC (2-2-5, 11 Fall; 8-9-8, 32 Combined) pull even on points for second in the Combined Standings.

Nothing Finer for Carolina

Days removed from its first win in Edmonton since 2011, North Carolina tasted the familiar bitterness of a poor road result thanks to Indy‘s stoppage time winner on Wednesday. A red card to defensive midfielder James Marcelin put North Carolina at a disadvantage for most of the night in Indy, but Brian Sylvestre kept his side in the match with four critical saves. Sylvestre’s teammates have put him under the gun throughout the year, forcing him to make a league-leading 93 saves.

Time Running Out for Puerto Rico

The next week will be an important one for Puerto Rico (2-2-3, 9 Fall; 3-11-9, 18 Combined). There’s no shame in losing to Miami as it did in its last two outings, but Puerto Rico no longer has room for error if it hopes to sneak into the postseason. The Caribbean side’s disastrous Spring Season means its only realistic shot at a postseason berth is overtaking Miami for the fall title. With three matches set in the next week, Puerto Rico’s fate could be sealed soon.

Indy Still Searching for Fall Breakthrough

Recent additions, attacker Paulo Junior and center back Cory Miller, had quality debuts for Indy Eleven (2-4-1, 7 Fall; 6-8-9, 27 Combined) in the midweek match, though holding off a 10-man North Carolina side at home isn’t as tough a test as the one the team should face in Edmonton (2-2-3, 9 Fall; 6-13-4, 22 Combined). Sitting last in the fall standings, Indy continues to struggle with scoring in the absence of leading scorer Justin Braun because of injury. Eamon Zayed’s winner on Wednesday finally tied him with Braun for goals, though still leads the team with five assists.

Armada Returns to New York

While Jacksonville looks to build on its two-match winning streak away from home, the New York Cosmos (1-2-4, 7 Fall; 7-6-10, 31 Combined) are desperate to snap a six-match winless streak, their longest drought of the Modern Era. Including Sunday’s battle with Jacksonville, the Cosmos have three chances at MCU Park in the next week to stabilize and climb back up the combined standings after falling out of the top four.