NASL Fall Week 7 Recap: Top Three Hold Serve at Home

IMAGE, FC EDMONTON

by JAKE NUTTING

The top three teams in the NASL standings all held serve at home against the league’s fourth, fifth and sixth place teams in week seven, allowing them to create a modicum of space over the rest of the field in a tight regular season race.

First-place Indy Eleven knocked off Rayo OKC with another late-game dramatic winner, FC Edmonton’s defense bossed its way to another clean sheet and a win over Minnesota United FC, and the New York Cosmos overcame an early two-goal deficit against the rival Tampa Bay Rowdies to win 3-2.

Indy Eleven 2-1 Rayo OKC

For the second week in a row, Indy Eleven left it late to find a winner to remain the frontrunners in the league standings. Expansion side Rayo OKC jumped out to a lead in the opening minutes when defender Futty Danso connected with a free kick into the box from Michel.

Following Danso’s strike, the match turned in Indy’s favor and they were able to equalize just before the halftime whistle when Dylan Mares converted an opportunity off a rebound. Center back Colin Falvey was the one to finally push Indy past Rayo OKC, pouncing on the ball after keeper Daniel Fernandes could not control a corner kick.

New York Cosmos 3-2 Tampa Bay Rowdies

The prospect of recording their first win in New York looked promising for the Rowdies as they sprinted out of the gates to a two-goal lead in the first 15 minutes. Recent acquisition PC was involved in each goal, first providing an assist to Joe Cole inside the box and then burying his own chance through a cross from forward Carlos Preciado.

After that initial burst, though, the Cosmos slowly began to take hold of the match. Tampa Bay’s defensive lines held firm in open play, but two penalty calls ended up being their undoing. Captain Tamika Mkandawire was the first offender, as he was judged to have handled the ball inside the box, and then Juan Guerra was guilty for a tackle on Lucky Mkosana just on the inside of the box. Midfielder Adam Moffat stepped to the spot in both instances and converted each time to bring his side level.

The Cosmos finally found their finish in open play in the third minute of stoppage time when Andres Flores whipped in a cross for substitute David Diosa to flick past Matt Pickens.

Carolina RailHawks 2-2 Puerto Rico FC

Thanks to Omar Bravo slotting home his third goal of the year in the 40th minute, the RailHawks were in a favorable position to roll on toward a win over Puerto Rico FC at home. The NASL newcomer had other plans in the second half, though.  Hector Ramos continued his streak as Puerto Rico’s attacking catalyst by providing an assist to Paulo Mendes in the 52nd minute and then coming up with his sixth goal of the year through a header in the 67th minute.

Things were looking bleak for Carolina until the 89th minute, when Matt Fondy bagged his fourth of the year by heading home a cross from Matt Watson.

Jacksonville Armada FC 2-1 Ottawa Fury FC

Saturday’s match in Ottawa was long overdue for Jacksonville, as the second-year club finally managed to secure its first ever win away from home.

The night got off to a rough start when Jacksonville’s back line parted to allow Carl Haworth to net his sixth goal of the season in the 26th minute. Jacksonville responded immediately, though, with Alhassane Keita converting from the center of the box only two minutes after Haworth’s goal.

Jacksonville was close to coming up just short of victory on the road yet again, but Keita came through with his second of the night in the 87th minute when he headed a cross from Jemal Johnson across the line to secure the historic result.

Fort Lauderdale Strikers 2-0 Miami FC

After a frustrating three-hour weather delay, both sides found goals hard to come by in Miami on Saturday night. Just as the match looked certain to end in a scoreless deadlock, Paulo Junior made the most of a half-chance and stuck his toe in to poke the ball into goal. Making his first appearance for the Strikers since signing last week, former Italian national team forward Amauri made an instant impact off the bench. After entering in the 76th minute, the veteran was given ample time to control a cross and fire a shot into the back of the net.

FC Edmonton 1-0 Minnesota United

 A scoreless opening 45 minutes was wiped away in the first moments of the second half as Tomi Ameobi scored just his second goal of the year to put the Eddies up at home. A nice interchange between Shawn Nicklaw and Daryl Fordyce culminated in Ameobi receiving the chance for the finish.

Edmonton’s defense did what it has excelled at this year and kept the Loons off the scoresheet entirely. The Eddies have only allowed ten goals through 18 matches played this year. The result is another concerning one for the Loons, who have not scored a goal of their own in the last three matches.