NASL Week 14: What to Watch For

Miami FC celebrates in its recent 4-0 thumping of the Jacksonville Armada

By JAKE NUTTING

NASL logoOnly four matches remain for each team as the North American Soccer League heads into Week 14 of the Spring Season, meaning the four teams chasing Miami FC (8-1-3, 27 points) for the crown have no room for error.

Miami only needs one more point to eliminate North Carolina FC (4-5-3, 15), while a win could help it lock up the championship a few weeks early. A win for Miami would axe the New York Cosmos (5-2-5, 20) from the championship race and would require wins from the Jacksonville Armada (5-3-4, 19) and San Francisco Deltas (5-2-5, 20), to maintain an outside shot at supplanting Miami at the top of the table.

New York on the Road Again

After a frustrating three-match home stand in which they were only able to take four points, the Cosmos are hitting the road again. The Cosmos must rely on their unbeaten road record as their chances at a spring title hinge on this weekend’s showdown in South Florida. A loss eliminates them from contention and puts Miami one step closer to securing its first piece of hardware. Working in Coach Giovanni Savarese‘s favor is that his team is the only one to have beaten Miami in league play this year. Key to the match for New York will be maintaining its stout away performances. In five road matches, the Cosmos have recorded four shutouts and allowed one goal. Since the loss to New York in early April, though, Miami’s attack has gained momentum. Attacker Vincenzo Rennella leads the league with eight goals and four assists.

North Carolina Slumping to Finish Line

Lance Laing is carrying his weight in his first year with North Carolina. The Jamaican winger is in the league’s top three for goals (5) and assists (3). The rest of the attack, however, has been slacking in production. The team has been blanked twice in its last three league matches and is in the middle of a five-match winless streak. Already a long shot for the spring title, North Carolina is in a similar position as this week’s opponent Indy Eleven (1-4-7, 10), which only notched its first win of the season last week. Both sides are looking to take as many points as possible as they regroup for the Fall Season.

Eddies Back to Old Habits

FC Edmonton (3-8-1, 10) is who we though they were. The team’s rousing 4-2 comeback win over the Cosmos a few weeks back has proven to be an aberration. Since that win in Brooklyn, the Eddies have fallen in back-to-back 1-0 results, raising the number of times they’ve been shutout this year to eight. Meanwhile, this weekend they host a San Francisco side that has yet to drop a match on the road and is aiming to make up ground on Miami title chase.

Puerto Rico Can’t Stop Conceding

Jairo Puerto is the latest Puerto Rico FC (1-7-4, 7) attacker to find his stride. The forward has now tallied a goal in three straight matches and added an assist last week. Puerto Rico’s attack has never been the problem for the young club, though. After its recent pair of losses, the Caribbean team is last as the only team to not have reached double digit points and has conceded a whopping 23 goals in 12 matches. With Jacksonville eager to wipe away last week’s embarrassing loss to Miami, Puerto Rico is likely to have its hands full again.