NASL Week 15: Things Get Interesting

July 2, 2017; San Francisco, CA, USA; NASL Puerto Rico FC vs. San Francisco Deltas at Kezar Stadium in Golden Gate Park.  Photo: Robert Edwards-KLC fotos.

By EoS STAFF

downloadMiami FC headed to Sahlen’s Stadium in Cary, N.C. with plans to clinch the North American Soccer League’s Spring Season title, but North Carolina FC had other ideas.

Playing on Independence Day on Tuesday in front of its home fans, NCFC slipped Miami and made the league leaders wait at least another four days to clinch.

Making things even more interesting, the two other clubs still alive in the Spring Season title race, Jacksonville Armada FC and the San Francisco Deltas, each won their games in Week 15.

Need something even more interesting? The Deltas, winners over Puerto Rico FC, close out the Spring Season with a home-and-away series against Miami. A win at Riccardo Silva Stadium on Saturday would leave the expansion team a single point behind Miami.

In other games, Jacksonville edged visiting FC Edmonton; host San Francisco took care of Puerto Rico; and New York and Indy played to a draw.

North Carolina FC 1, Miami FC 0

A victory would have clinched the NASL Spring Season title for Miami (9-2-3, 30 points), but NCFC (5-6-3, 18) had other ideas. The loss was Miami’s first — in any competition — since April 8, and it came at the hands of a second-half goal from North Carolina’s Billy Schuler.

North Carolina goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre was called into action in the 58th minute by Miami’s Ariel Martínez. The former United States youth international tipped the Cuban international’s bending effort just over the crossbar. That set the stage for the goal six minutes later. Jose Carranza threaded a pass to Schuler, who calmly tapped the ball into the back of the net.

San Francisco 2, Puerto Rico FC 0

The Deltas (7-2-5, 26) pulled within four points of league-leading Miami FC with the win over Puerto Rico FC (1-8-4, 7) at Kezar Stadium on Sunday night.

The veteran forward Tom Heinemann scored a goal in each half to give San Francisco all it needed against last-place Puerto Rico.

Heinemann opened the scoring in the 24th minute with his third league goal of the season, getting on the end of a well-served cross by midfielder Danny Cruz. Heinemann struck for a second time in the 67th minute when he curled home a shot after running onto a long ball from midfielder Tyler Gibson.

New York 1, Indy Eleven 1

Playing in front of its largest home crowd of the season on Tuesday night, the Cosmos (5-3-6, 21) found a late equalizer to salvage a point in a draw with Indy Eleven (2-4-8, 14) at MCU Park.

Emmanuel Ledesma‘s 86th-minute spot kick canceled out a goal from Indy’s Ben Speas midway through the first half. The tilt was a rematch of The Championship Final from last year.

The visitors were patient early and it paid off in the 33rd minute. Speas settled a nice pass from defender Marco Franco before taking a touch and blasting a shot past Cosmos goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer. The score could have been 2-0 just before halftime, but Maurer came up with ahug kick-save to deny Indy forward Eamon Zayed from point-blank range.

The Cosmos finally got the break they were looking for. Indy defender Colin Falvey was ruled to have made contact with Ledesma in the penalty area and the referee pointed to the spot. The Argentine buried his attempt inside the near post.

 Jacksonville 1, FC Edmonton 0

The Armada (6-3-4, 22) remained alive in the title race with the victory over the Eddies (3-10-1, 10) at Hodges Stadium on Saturday night.

Forward Derek Gebhard, who has been one of the league’s most impressive young players this year, scored the game’s only goal in the 79th minute to solidify Armada FC’s place in the top half of the table.