NASL Spring Week 3 Recap: RailHawks Top the Standings as Indy, Rowdies Win Dramatically

IMAGE, MATT SCHLOTZHAUER

by JAKE NUTTING

After three weeks of action in the North American Soccer League, the Carolina RailHawks (3-0-0, 9 pts) are the surprising leaders in the Spring Season standings. The RailHawks claimed sole possession of the top spot this week thanks to their 1-0 victory over Ottawa Fury FC, as well as the New York Cosmos (2-0-1, 6 pts) blowing their lead in the face of a remarkable 2-1 comeback win from Indy Eleven.

The Cosmos were also surpassed by Minnesota United FC (2-0-1, 6 pts) in the standings after the Loons cruised to a 3-0 win over a 10-man Fort Lauderdale Strikers. Minnesota has an opportunity to move ahead on points, as opposed to goal differential, next week when they host the Cosmos.

Jacksonville Armada FC 2-1 Miami FC

Tony Meola earned some early adoration from his home crowd in Jacksonville on Friday with a win over the newest Florida NASL team in a match where all the scoring occurred in the opening 45 minutes.

The Armada jumped out to a lead at the 20th minute mark off a brilliant strike from Junior Sandoval. The midfielder took advantage of a brief window of space from 25 yards out to send a booming strike on mark to the top corner. Miami responded only six minutes later when forward Dario Cvitanich exploited abymsal marking on a cross into the box to direct a header into the net. The tally was Cvitanich’s third goal in as many matches.

Jacksonville regained the lead in the in the 36th minute through Pascal Millien as the attacker cut inside the box and took a shot that looked harmless until keeper Daniel Vega let it slip right through his fingers.

Carolina RailHawks 1-0 Ottawa Fury FC

The NASL’s reigning Golden Glove winner Romuald Peiser put in his best shift of the young season so far, coming up with several superb saves to keep his side in contention with the RailHawks after an onslaught of chances on net in the opening half.

In total, Peiser answered the call on six saves, but he had absolutely no chance against the world-class winner that came two minutes into the second half. Winger Tiyi Shipalane received a backheel from Nazmi Albadawi in stride 20 yards from goal and hit a curling shot to the top corner of the far post that Peiser could only watch kiss the underside of the crossbar on its way into the net.

Tampa Bay Rowdies 1-0 FC Edmonton

The Rowdies were in control for much of Saturday’s encounter in St. Petersburg, but even with 66% possession of the ball they found the task of breaking the Eddies backline almost impossible. Tight lines and good organization inside the final third kept the Rowdies frustrated throughout the night. That was the case until the 74th minute when Eric Avila provided a cross perfectly on the mark to the near post for the head of Tommy Heinemann and the forward guided the ball past the helpless Matt Van Oekel for his first goal on the season.

Despite conceding, the Eddies were not ready to give up the fight on the road and took advantage of some harried defending from the Rowdies as they looked to ride out the result. Veteran Matt Pickens, though , came up with two critical saves in the dying moments. First he stood his ground to deny Sainey Nyassi from close range just before stoppage time. He then took care of business deep into the stoppage time, diving right to smoother a penalty attempt from Tomi Ameobi after a handball in the box.

Minnesota United FC 3-0 Fort Lauderdale Strikers

The Loons and Strikers have played some hotly-contested matches in the past few years and the opening stages of this weekend’s bout was no exception. Tensions boiled over midway through the first half when Jeb Brovsky plowed through the back of Fort Lauderdale’s Geison Moura. The scuffle ended with a questionable red card for Moura after the referee decided he had kicked Brovsky in retaliation.

After going down a man, the Strikers had little hope of mounting a positive result away from home and they did themselves no favors with errors leading directly to two goals for the Loons. The first tally was the result of a well-executed corner kick from Ben Speas that defender Damion Lowe headed just under the cross bar.

Goals two and three were another story. Shortly before the first half whistle, a harmless high-arching ball in the box ended up in the net after a bobbled catch from keeper Bruno Cardoso. Forward Christian Ramirez wasted no time in pouncing on the unclaimed ball and easily tapped it home.

Ramirez was involved in the third tally as well. In the 69th minute he attempted to head a cross from Lance Laing back across goal, but he was assisted by an unsuspecting Luis Zapata, whose chest guide the ball into the net for an own goal.

Indy Eleven 2-1 New York Cosmos

The Cosmos were a mere six minutes away from their third straight win to open the season and their first ever victory over Indy Eleven, but an incredible comeback from the home side left them tasting defeat instead.

After a scoreless first half in which they had no shots on goal, the Cosmos jumped out to a lead in the 47th minute through a penalty conversion from Niko Kranjcar after Sebastian Guenzatti was taken down in front of goal.

New York’s lead held until the 89th minute when Indy drew their own penalty. Defender Hunter Freeman was whistled for apparently pulling down Greg Janicki on a corner kick and forward Eamon Zayed made easy work of the conversion. Indy rode the wave from the equalizer late into stoppage time and found their winner when Zayed was in position inside the six yard box to capitalize on a rebound from an initial save, burying it into the goal.

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  • StrikersFan

    We see poor officiating in the NASL all the time. The center ref in the MIN/FTL match this weekend takes the cake though. The incident that changed what was a very even match to that point occurred right in front of him, and somehow, inexplicably, he got it completely wrong. That thug Brovsky who was hacking players down and pushing players after the whistle all night with no ramifications, got away with a blatant cheap shot on Moura. Not only did he steamroll him from behind, the replay shows him very clearly, and intentionally delivering a forearm shiver to the back of Moura’s head. Then before Moura can even react lying on the ground, Brovsky jumps up and nearly stomps him while pushing him with his legs and threatening him. Out of all that, the ass clown ref gives Moura a red and Brovsky nothing! There was nothing ambiguous about anything that happened, despite a few Loons fans trying to spin it. The replays on tv were abundantly clear. How the ref did what he did is mind-boggling on a level rarely seen, even in the annals of horrendous NASL officiating. The Strikers better have been on the phone to Peterson already demanding the suspension for Moura be rescinded, and that Brovsky get at least one game, and perhaps two of his own for his actions throughout the night. He was a complete disgrace.