NASL Fall Week 2 Recap: Indy Inching Closer to Unbeaten History

IMAGE, MATT SCHLOTZHAUER

by JAKE NUTTING

The New York Cosmos are the ones enjoying the moment at the top of both the Fall Season and Combined tables after the second round of action of the fall, but it is Indy Eleven who are moving closer to making history.

Indy’s 1-0 win over Minnesota United FC over the weekend extended their unbeaten streak to 12 matches, equaling the second longest run without losing a match set by Ottawa Fury FC last year. Another win or draw for Indy would pull them even with the longest unbeaten run in the modern NASL era, which was set by the Carolina RailHawks in 2011 and matched by the Cosmos across the 2013 and 2014 seasons.

Jacksonville Armada FC 2-1 Puerto Rico FC

Jacksonville pulled ahead in the opening minute with a clinical one-timed effort from Jemal Johnson on a cross from Alex Dixon. Following a two-hour weather delay, the two attackers immediately hooked up on another goal in the 27th minute, this time with Johnson cutting a pass back for Dixon to slot home from dead center of the box.

Hector Ramos notched his second goal for Puerto Rico in the 78th minute to cut the deficit in half but the expansion’s side rally came up and they ended up recording their first losing effort. The win extends Jacksonville’s unbeaten run to five, but more importantly it lifts them to second in the fall standings and out of the bottom three in the combined standings.

Carolina RailHawks 4-1 Tampa Bay Rowdies

The RailHawks certainly appear to the have the Rowdies number this year. After going winless since their victory over the Rowdies in late April, the RailHawks got back on track with a comfortable 4-1 victory at home. Carolina had only been able to tally three goals in their last six league matches heading into their matchup with the Rowdies.

Carolina got on the board first in the 11th minute when Matt Fondy buried a header for his first goal in his first appearance for the RailHawks since transferring from Jacksonville during the break. The Rowdies equalized less than 10 minutes later through a penalty from Georgi Hristov after Eric Avila was tripped up just inside the box.

The first half ended 1-1 but the closing 45 minutes ended up being all about Carolina. The home side quickly pulled out to a two-goal lead through penalties of their own in the 55th and 59th minutes. In their first starts of the year, replacement center backs Stefan Antonijevic and Frankie Sanfilippo were each whistled for fouls inside the area to put their side in a deep hole. Brian Shriver converted the first and Nazmi Albadawi scored the second four minutes later. Albadawi then bagged his second in the 71st minute from long distance in the face of little pressure from the Rowdies defense.

Indy Eleven 1-0 Minnesota United

On a night when Indy Eleven celebrated by lifting the Spring Season shield, the champions did what they do best, persevering to capture a late goal and take all three points from Minnesota. The Loons had a perfect opportunity to gain a lead late in the first half when Stefano Pinho was awarded a penalty after falling to the ground inches inside the box. Christian Ramirez stepped to the spot, but veteran keeper Jon Busch stifled the league’s leading scorer with a crucial save on the penalty attempt. Bush came up with three other saves in the match to deny an active Minnesota side. Busch’s teammates rewarded his efforts in the 71st minute when Dylan Mares ripped a shot from outside the box past Sammy Ndjock to secure the win.

An altercation after the whistle led to Minnesota’s Tiago Calvano and Indy’s Lovel Palmers¬†each receiving red cards.

New York Cosmos 3-2 Miami FC

Miami looked up to the task of redemption on Saturday night after being blown out by the Cosmos in May. The retooled expansion side held the Cosmos at bay for the majority of the first half until the 40th minute, when some lax defending allowed a well-struck cross from David Diosa to skim across several defenders and fall into the path of Lucky Mkosana for a strong finish.

Unlike their encounter in May though, Miami continued to fight and leveled things up with Kwadwo Poku, a player the Cosmos are more than familiar with from his days with New York City FC in MLS. Poku outran Carlos Mendes to a long through ball and powered a shot past Brian Holt with his first touch in the 73rd. The Cosmos responded ten minutes later with a nifty combination play between Andres Flores and Yohandry Orozco that left Orozco in a one-on-one with the keeper.

Miami still wasn’t done, though. Defender Hunter Freeman gifted them with a penalty in the 87th minute when he pulled down Jaime Chavez inside the box and Dario Cvitanich converted from the spot. Freeman responded well to help set up the winner in stoppage time, delivering a dangerous corner to the near post that the was batted down by the keeper, bounced off the post and then deflected off Mkosana to cross the line.

Rayo OKC 1-0 Ottawa Fury FC

Expansion side Rayo OKC managed to improve its away record to 3W-2D-1L this year. The lone goal in the match was recorded as an own goal for Ottawa’s Marcel DeBellis, who was filling in for the suspended Romuald Peiser. Rayo OKC’s Michel sent in a corner to the near post that clipped the inside of the unwitting keeper’s right leg and deflected across the line in only the 8th minute.

FC Edmonton 1-0 Fort Lauderdale Strikers

The Strikers will be thankful to have a break from playing the Eddies, who have now delivered the Strikers their only two defeats in their last eight league matches. Edmonton’s veteran forward Daryl Fordyce notched the match’s only goal in the 71st minute, controlling a cross from Jake Keegan and slipping it by Diego Restrepo. The counter attack chance was sparked by a point-blank save by Edmonton’s Matt Van Oekel on the other end of the field. Van Oekel kept the visitors off the board entirely with six total saves in the match.