NASL Fall Week 4 Recap: Indy Lead Tight Standings Races, more

IMAGE, INDY ELEVEN/TREVOR RUSZKOWSKI

by JAKE NUTTING

After recording their first loss of the year in Minnesota last week, Indy Eleven showed great determination to get by a resolute FC Edmonton with a slim 1-0 win at home.

With the New York Cosmos blowing a two-goal lead in the final ten minutes against rival Tampa Bay Rowdies, Indy now finds itself on top in the both the Fall Season and combined season standings. However, they only lead thanks to tiebreakers, as both clubs are dead even on points.

Carolina RailHawks 3-3 Miami FC

The league’s fourth week of action appeared poised for a perfectly-scripted debut for Mexican star Omar Bravo in Carolina, until Miami rained on the parade with a late equalizer.

After allowing the visitors to earn a 2-1 lead at the halftime through goals from Jaime Chavez and Kwadwo Poku, the RailHawks responded in the closing 45 minutes to score two and take the lead. Brian Shriver sparked the rally in the 61st minute when he headed home a cross from Tiyi Shipalane, setting the stage for Bravo to show why the RailHawks worked so hard to bring him into the fold. With Shipalane providing the set up once again, Bravo buried a right-footed striker past the keeper to put the home side ahead in the 78th minute.

Chavez, though, played spoiler when he nabbed his second of the night only two minutes later by deftly converting a cross to the center of the box from Dario Cvitanich.

Ottawa Fury FC 2-0 Jacksonville Armada FC

Ottawa recorded a much-needed win on Saturday night in Jacksonville with a goal in each half. Thomas Stewart opened up the scoring close to the halftime break when he got on the end of a pass from Bryan Oliver after streaking through the midfield. Carl Haworth then bagged his fourth of the year in the 60th minute with a shot to beat keeper Sean Lewis inside the box.

First-year head coach Tony Meola is in desperate need of a solution down in Jacksonville. Even with the debut of the team’s Swedish attackers Niklas Maripuu and Alexander Andersson, Jacksonville’s was still blanked for the ninth time this year.

Tampa Bay Rowdies 2-2 New York Cosmos

Controversial referee decisions were the story of the night in the latest chapter in the rivalry between the Rowdies and Cosmos. The Cosmos pulled ahead early in the first half when they won a questionable free kick 25 yards out from goal. There was no question about Juan Arango’s free kick strike, though, as the Venezuelan veteran placed it right on the money to the top corner.

After having an equalizer disallowed only a few minutes later when Joe Cole was whistled for a hand ball on the sequence, the Rowdies allowed their frustrations to get the best of them. Lucky Mkosana played the ball into space in front of goal and Yasmani Duk was left totally free to collect the ball and slip a shot through the legs of Matt Pickens.

Knowing the hardships the Cosmos have had closing out matches on the road this year, the Rowdies continued to push forward and finally notched a goal in the 84th minute. Center back Tamika Mkandawire made a rare run into the box and fired a shot that Brian Holt  saved but then rebounded off a defender and back onto frame, where Keith Savage waited for the tap-in. Ayoze came in to thwart the tap but ended up knocking it across the line for an own goal. Tampa Bay’s equalizer came with controversy of its own in stoppage time. Jimmy Ockford was whistled for pulling Tommy Heinemann down in the box on a cross that the forward had no realistic shot of reaching. Cole stepped to the spot and made easy work of the penalty conversion.

Puerto Rico FC 1-0 Rayo OKC

Puerto Rico FC made history over the weekend with its first ever win as a club. The expansion side also snapped a six-game unbeaten streak for Rayo OKC in the process.

It was the red-hot Hector Ramos who lifted the Caribbean club to victory with a close-range finish after receiving a through ball from Paulo Mendes. Remarkably, the goal was Ramos’ fourth since Puerto Rico kicked off its season at the start of July.

Indy Eleven 1-0 FC Edmonton

After falling just shy of a new NASL unbeaten record last week, Indy Eleven got back on track with a hard-fought win over a tough Edmonton side. Scoring against the Eddies has proven to be one of the toughest tasks in the NASL this year, with the Canadian side only giving up eight goals heading into its match with Indy. Greg Janicki  found a way to break through when he rose to head a free kick from Dylan Mares into the back of net for what ended up being the winner in the 13th minute.

Minnesota United 3-1 Fort Lauderdale Strikers

 The Loons continued their hot start to the fall with a thorough beat-down of the Strikers.

JC Banks gave the home side a lead after only 14 minutes with a driven, long-range effort. Christian Ramirez then doubled the lead and extended his scoring total for the league to 11 a few minutes later with another effort from outside of the box.

Paulo Junior pulled one back in the 54th minute to give the Strikers a whiff of hope, but the Loons never allowed them to gain any momentum and eventually added a third to lock up the three points when Ben Speas set up Ismaila Jome for a shot in the center of the box.