NASL Fall Week 14 Recap: Fall Field Shrinks, Combined Race Tightens

IMAGE, FC EDMONTON

by JAKE NUTTING

The field of contenders for the NASL Fall Season title got considerably smaller in week 14. As it stands, only FC Edmonton (30 pts Fall, 47 pts Combined), Indy Eleven (27 pts, 45 pts), Miami FC (29 pts, 36 pts) and the Tampa Bay Rowdies (20 pts, 36 pts) have a shot at catching the New York Cosmos (37 pts, 55 pts), who clinched a spot in The Championship with a win over the Fort Lauderdale Strikers (17 pts, 32 pts).

The Eddies moved back into the second spot in the fall and combined standings with a dramatic two-goal comeback against Indy for their first win since August 20.

Minnesota United FC (20 pts, 36 pts) were fortunate not to lose hold of their fourth spot in the combined standings after falling for the fourth straight time in a devastating 1-0 loss to Jacksonville Armada FC (16 pts, 23 pts). With a 1-1 draw, the Rowdies and Miami could only pull even with the Loons on the table. The Rowdies have an opportunity to take the spot outright on Wednesday when they host the Loons.

New York Cosmos 2-0 Fort Lauderdale Strikers

After failing to break through Fort Lauderdale’s bunker in the opening 45 minutes at Shuart Stadium, the dam finally burst open for the Cosmos in the 57th minute. Juan Arango took the ball toward the endline on the left side of the box and delivered a pass to the top of the six-yard box for Ruben Bover to one-time across the line. It was Bover’s second straight match with a goal.

An identical run to the endline and cross set up New York’s second goal as well. This time it was substitute Lucky Mkosana who provided the set up with a pass to an unmarked Andres Flores in the center of the box.

FC Edmonton 2-1 Indy Eleven

Edmonton keeper Matt Van Oekel entered Sunday’s matching looking to set a new NASL record by recording his 15th shutout of the year, but he was denied the accomplishment by Eamon Zayed in the 56th minute. Indy’s leading scorer notched his 14th of the year with a one-timed finish through a pass from Dylan Mares. Zayed is now just one back of the league-leading Christian Ramirez.

The Eddies battled back at home to score their first goal in five matches. Center back Papa Diakite capitalized on a chaotic moment in Indy’s penalty area by blasting a shot into the top corner to snap the scoring drought. With the momentum on their side, the Eddies mounted one last counter attack deep into stoppage time and found the back of the net thanks to a strike from Canadian youth international Ben Fisk.

Puerto Rico 2-1 Ottawa Fury FC

Ottawa jumped out to an early lead over their guests in the 15th minute when Ryan Williams tallied his second of the year by ripping a cross from Giuseppe Gentile into the back of the net. The lead was not meant to last, though, as a complete breakdown along Ottawa’s back line gifted Puerto Rico with an empty net chance in the 27th minute. Hector Ramos drew attention on the right side of the box and threaded a pass through a crowd of defenders to find Kyle Culbertson wide open for the simple finish.

Puerto Rico was dealt a blow when defender Rudy Dawson was shown a straight red card for a sweeping the legs out from an Ottawa player in the 71st minute. Despite going down a man, the expansion side found a go-ahead goal six minutes later through a sensational 30-yard strike by Sidney Rivera that clipped the inside of the right post to cross the line. Puerto Rico managed to ride out the result on the road to record their third straight win.

Rayo OKC 1-1 Carolina RailHawks

All the action in Sunday night’s clash in Oklahoma City occurred late into stoppage time.

The Carolina RailHawks appeared to nick a winner over their hosts in the second minute of stoppage time when Matt Watson stripped Derek Boateng of the ball and rifled a shot from 20 yards that blew by Daniel Fernandes. Two minutes later, though, the RailHawks failed to clear an aimless throw-in into the box, allowing Rauwshan McKenzie to nudge the ball toward Futty Danso for the equalizer. The result is the fourth straight draw for Rayo OKC and the third straight time that the expansion side has leveled the match in the final moments.

Tampa Bay Rowdies 1-1 Miami FC

The Rowdies and Miami will be happy to move into a tie for the fourth spot with Minnesota, but the former will likely feel some regret about what could have been after failing to ride out the win in the second half.

Tampa Bay took the lead in front of a home crowd of 6,900 in the 31st minute through a 20-yard strike from Eric Avila to cap off a quick counter attack. The lead held until the 74th minute when a defensive miscue allowed Miami’s Rhett Bernstein to pounce on a chance inside the six-yard box.

Jacksonville Armada FC 1-0 Minnesota United FC

Jacksonville weathered a dominant second half from Minnesota to eventually come out on top with all three points. In the 88th minute, Minnesota conceded a free kick to the visitors deep in the left corner. The ball was delivered into the box with an arching cross that was headed down by Derek Gebhard. Matt Bahner was the first to the ball and quickly turned to fire a shot into the back of the net. The loss is Minnesota’s fourth in as many matches.

  • smurf040

    I hate the Rowdies, but I will be rooting for them to kick ass!! **** the Loons! the want MLS? they can’t lose by enough goals in my book!!!! Let’s hope four legit NASL teams make the playoffs!!

    • slowleftarm

      Are there even four “legit” NASL teams? Seems like they want to leave for the greener pastures of MLS or USL.