NASL Spring Week 8: Eddies Look To Move Up, Cosmos, Rowdies Clash

Image, Steve Kingsman/Freestyle Photography

by JAKE NUTTING

While the finish may already be in sight for the NASL’s Spring Season, the race for the spring title and the postseason spot that comes along with it has shown no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

FC Edmonton’s (3W-2D-2L, 11 pts) 2-1 win over the New York Cosmos (4W-0D-3L, 12 pts) has given new life to the hopes of the Canadian side. A win this weekend against the vulnerable Carolina RailHawks (4W-1D-2L, 13 pts) would potentially catapult the Eddies into pole position in the standings.

For that to happen, though, the Eddies would need a stumble from the streaking Minnesota United FC (4W-1D-1L, 13 pts) at Indy Eleven and a major stumble from the Cosmos at home against the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

Indy Eleven host Minnesota United
Saturday May 21, 7:30 p.m. ET

With six games played, Indy Eleven enter the weekend as the only unbeaten team left in the NASL. Despite holding that trump card, Indy sits fifth in the spring season as they’ve only been able to secure two outright wins.

Saturday’s match offers them their toughest challenge since they found a winner against the Cosmos in stoppage time one month ago. Minnesota is unbeaten in their last five outings, having drawn only once in that stretch, and unlike Indy, seem to be clicking on both sides of the ball. The two sides are even at four goals conceded, but the Loons are tied for most goals scored in the league with 11.¬†Indy has only mustered five tallies.

Minnesota will be without Ben Speas after the number 10 was forced out of last week’s win over Jacksonville with a twisted ankle. After six matches, Speas has shown himself to be an invaluable addition to the team’s attack. Apart from notching three goals and an assist, the midfielder has added crucial balance to Minnesota’s lineup. JC Banks and Bernardo Anor are the likely ones to be asked to fill in for Speas.

Rayo OKC host Fort Lauderdale Strikers
Saturday May 21, 8 p.m. ET

Expansion side Rayo OKC is off to a respectable start in the NASL this year. Sitting seventh in the standings after six matches, they’ve found most of their success away from home. Their only two wins have come on the road, while their only two losses of their inaugural campaign have been in front of their home crowd.

The Fort Lauderdale Strikers sit directly below Rayo OKC in the standings, though recent performances suggest they might be ready to make a move up the NASL pecking order. First they knocked off the then-first-place Carolina RailHawks in a decisive 3-1 result on the road, and then they could have dealt Indy their first loss of the year if not for veteran keeper Jon Busch denying them with six outstanding saves.

Fort Lauderdale’s newfound confidence could spell trouble for Rayo OKC, who needed defensive blunders from their last two opponents to secure a positive result.

Ottawa Fury FC host Jacksonville Armada FC
Sunday May 22, 2 p.m. ET

Returning to the confines of Canadian borders seems to have worked wonders for the form of Ottawa Fury FC. The team is unbeaten in its last three league matches since their home debut on April 30. Head coach Paul Dalglish’s side even secured a spot the next round of the Amway Canadian Championship after dispatching FC Edmonton 3-2 on aggregate.

With Jacksonville coming to town, Ottawa’s positive run could be in line for an extension. Jacksonville’s road struggles since joining the league are well documented (winless in 17 tries on the road), but they’re starting to slip at home as well. Losing three straight and being blanked in all three outings is bad enough, but two of those results coming at home is a seriously troubling sign.

Jacksonville is playing uninspired soccer at the moment, and making matters worse, they sold their leader Richie Ryan to Miami FC last week. The short Spring Season isn’t even done and the identity and direction of the Armada under Tony Meola is already in serious doubt.

FC Edmonton host Carolina RailHawks
Sunday May 22, 4 p.m. ET

It’s safe to say the Carolina RailHawks are not feeling the same good vibes they were less than a month ago when they had a golden opportunity to lock up the spring. After picking up every point through their first four matches, the RailHawks have only managed to secure a single point in their last three. More troubling is that their last two matches were deflating results against Miami and Fort Lauderdale; teams circling the drain in the bottom half of the table.

With only one goal over the past three weeks, it’s clear that the sudden drop off in offensive productivity is costing the RailHawks and that their fast start to the season may have been a streak they were incapable of living up to.

Meanwhile, the Eddies are riding high off last week’s win over the Cosmos and will be eager to potentially jump into the top spot on the table. Unbeaten in their last three, the rest of the NASL is finding it difficult to breakdown the Eddies, especially in their home stadium. The Loons are the only team to drop more than one goal on the Eddies in league play this year – and that was in week two.

New York Cosmos host Tampa Bay Rowdies
Sunday May 22, 6 p.m. ET

For the first time in the modern era, the Tampa Bay Rowdies will field a genuine star player when they face off with the Cosmos.

Premier League veteran Joe Cole slotted directly into the starting lineup after officially signing with the Rowdies early last week, surprisingly going the full 90-plus minutes in the team’s 1-1 draw with Rayo OKC. Cole provided a spark on a few offensive opportunities from a deep midfield position, but the Rowdies are still struggling to find a clinical touch in the final third. With only five goals scored in six matches, the Rowdies are tied with three other teams for second-fewest in the league. Of those four teams, the Rowdies are the only one not in the bottom four of the spring table.

The Cosmos are in a much better position on the table, but they still have two more losses than the Rowdies thanks to their poor road form. The good news is that they’re back at home this week, where they’re not only unbeaten in three matches this year, but they’ve also never lost a home match to the Rowdies since joining the league in 2013.

  • Larry\’s A Simpleton

    this is going to be a real painful week end for the f.cosmos fanboys. must really suck to see the red bulls and nycfc getting all that media attention and play in front of 40000 at yankee stadium and then have to schlep out to the lacrosse stadium and sit with about 1500 nit wits.

    despite what the apologists like leo like to say 40000 taylor swift fans > 1500 organics at a place where they have to close off half the stadium in some lame attempt to make the stadium look semi full. is that the best stover and obrien can come up with? roflmfbao!

    #STOVEROUT!

    • William Sannuto

      You are such a tired act please do us all a favor and effin F yourself you pathetic piece of ****.

    • What Larry really meant

      I recognize that my team is a pale imitation of both Man City & the 1970s Cosmos. I also recognize that I have no job and no friends and I am able to post on every NASL -related article here, I recognize that I am pathetic. Please forgive me for breathing in the air that belong to others & taking up 2 seats on the subway.

  • OpenCupFan

    Cosmos – Rowdies, only actual rivalry game in NYC this weekend

    • William Sannuto

      For real now LETS GO COSMOS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Eric B

      Since when is Hofstra in NYC?

      • William Sannuto

        Oh Eric u sound like a so smug.

      • OpenCupFan

        You’re not as good w/o Rakim, just a fact.

  • Len

    Looking forward to this historic rivalry unlike the fake manufactured one between the Mls franchises.

    Joe Cole’s first visit vs the New York Cosmos!!