NASL Fall Week 10 Recap: Top Four Separating From the Pack

IMAGE, MINNESOTA UNITED FC

by JAKE NUTTING

The top three spots in the NASL standings all remained the same after week 10 of the Fall Season as the New York Cosmos (27 pts Fall, 45 pts Combined), FC Edmonton (24 pts, 41 pts) and Indy Eleven (21 pts, 39 pts) all earned a point in their respective matches.

Minnesota United FC’s (20 pts, 36 pts) narrow 1-0 win over Rayo OKC (13 pts, 25 pts) on Saturday, though, was perhaps the most critical of the weekend. The three-point result leaves them seven points clear of the fifth-place Carolina RailHawks (15 pts, 29 pts), who bounced back from their defeat in New York with a well-earned win against Jacksonville Armada FC (10 pts, 17 pts).

The Tampa Bay Rowdies’ (12 pts, 28 pts) inability to come away with more than a point in Indy places their playoff hopes in danger. As the league has now reached the final stretch of the season, it is now time for the Rowdies and the rest of the teams chasing the fourth playoff spot to start getting results.

Ottawa Fury FC 2-2 FC Edmonton

Edmonton’s typically composed defense shot itself in the foot before Friday’s match was even two minutes old. Center back Papa Diakite miscued on a pass inside his own box, allowing forward Tommy Stewart to swoop in and slot the ball into the back of the net.

Stewart then earned Ottawa a penalty when he was taken down by Albert Watson in the 17th minute. However, Edmonton’s Matt Van Oekel proved why he’s been so valuable to his side this year, stopping not one but two penalty attempts from Ryan Williams thanks to encroachment from the Eddies on the first.

Maxim Tissot capitalized on a rebound opportunity in the 36th minute to finally give Ottawa a second goal, but it only took the Eddies three minutes to pull one back with a Daryl Fordyce header off a corner kick from Sainey Nyassi.

Fordyce grabbed a second to even things up in the 62nd minute, connecting on a long-range pass from Shawn Nicklaw with a right-footed strike. The match was the first time the Eddies have allowed multiple goals in a match in the fall, and just the second time they’ve done so all year.

Fort Lauderdale Strikers 0-0 New York Cosmos

The Cosmos succeeded in extending their unbeaten streak to seven matches on Saturday, but they had to settle for a scoreless draw as Fort Lauderdale’s Bruno kept them off the board with eight saves in net. The keeper reacted with point-blank stops on midfielders Yohandry Orozco and Ruben Bover in the final 15 minutes to keep the Cosmos from leaving South Florida with three points.

Miami FC 3-0 Puerto Rico FC

In his first appearance since exiting two weeks ago with an injury, midfielder Jonny Steele gave Miami a lead in only the 14th minute with a left-footed strike from inside the box. Dario Cvitanich¬†then found a way to double Miami’s lead early in the second half when he got on the end of a through ball from Rhett Bernstein and fired an effort past Puerto Rico’s keeper. Kwadwo Poku put the game away in the 88th minute with his fifth goal since joining Miami at the start of the Fall Season.

The loss continued Puerto Rico’s bumpy inaugural campaign. The expansion side has only registered one win in 12 matches and sits dead last in the fall standings with eight points.

Indy Eleven 1-1 Tampa Bay Rowdies

After taking only one point in their recent three-match road trip, Indy scraped out a draw with the Rowdies at home, extending their unbeaten streak at home to 14 matches.

The Rowdies struck the first blow in the 29th minute when midfielder Justin Chavez finished off an expert free kick delivery to the far post by Joe Cole. The visitors had little time to celebrate, though, as Omar Gordon slipped behind the back and notched his first goal of the Fall Season..

Both sides struggled to find the net again in the second half and finished the night with only three shots on goal each.

Carolina RailHawks 1-0 Jacksonville Armada FC

The RailHawks were in dire need of a positive result after the 6-1 shellacking they took from the Cosmos in their last outing. A first-rate finish from Tiyi Shipalane just minutes before the halftime break allowed them to find the much-needed points. Shipalane brilliantly picked a bouncing pass from Nazmi Albadawi out of the air and chipped Miguel Gallardo to find his first goal of the Fall Season. The scoring sequence was the league-leading ninth time that Albadawi has provided an assist this year.

The loss was the first Jacksonville has suffered since head coach Mary Lowry assumed the position last month.

Minnesota United FC 1-0 Rayo OKC

Sensing his lead in the NASL Golden Boot race may be on the line, Christian Ramirez got back on the scoresheet for the first time in three matches. Ramirez notched Minnesota’s winner shortly before halftime, burying the ball into the back of the net after receiving a pass from Jamie Watson. The tally was Ramirez’s 14th of year, two more than Indy’s Eamon Zayed and three more than New York’s Juan Arango.

Rayo OKC has now lost four straight matches and is winless since head coach Alen Marcina resigned from his position in August.