NASL Week 6 Preview: Eddies Look to Keep Pace in Puerto Rico, Florida Derby, more

IMAGE, TAMPA BAY ROWDIES

by JAKE NUTTING

Indy Eleven (13 pts Fall, 31 pts Combined) and the New York Cosmos (13 pts, 31 pts) will spend week six of the NASL Fall Season at home, looking to maintain their pole positions in the race for the fall title. FC Edmonton (13 pts, 30 pts) is even with New York and Indy in the fall race, but the Eddies must take care of business on the road in Puerto Rico if they hope to keep pace.

The Florida Derby is back this weekend as well, although neither side is entering the match on a high note. Both the Tampa Bay Rowdies (5 pts, 21 pts) and Fort Lauderdale Strikers (4 pts, 19 pts) are in desperate need of a confidence boost after their latest string of results. The Rowdies came up with two own goals and zero proper goals on their recent two-game road trip, while the Strikers escaped with a 1-0 win over Jacksonville Armada FC after dropping their previous four matches.

Jacksonville Armada FC host Carolina RailHawks, Saturday August 7, 7 p.m. ET

The good news for Jacksonville is that they snapped their four-game scoreless streak in Wednesday’s match in Indy. The bad news is their losing streak was extended to five as they fell 5-2. With only four points taken from seven games in the Fall Season, first-year head coach Tony Meola’s seat is quickly heating up.

The Carolina RailHawks are also looking to swing the pendulum back in their favor after dropping two straight road matches in Canada. Starting striker Omar Bravo should be eager to get on the scoresheet after seeing the RailHawks blanked in back-to-back matches.

Indy Eleven host Ottawa Fury FC, Saturday August 7, 7:30 p.m. ET

Indy’s 5-2 beat down on Jacksonville lifted the Spring Season champions into a slim lead in the Fall Season race, but they could be in store for a bigger cushion on the table if they can take advantage of two straight home games. They’ll first have to get by a confident Ottawa side that has taken three points in each of their last three outings. Carl Haworth has been the lone consistent scoring threat with five goals, but last year’s Golden Glove winner Romuald Peiser has also played a huge part in the team’s recent upswing, securing a clean sheet in all three of Ottawa’s wins.

Indy will be without veteran defender Greg Janicki due to red card suspension.

Tampa Bay Rowdies host Fort Lauderdale Strikers, Saturday August 7, 7:30 p.m. ET

The Rowdies return home after dropping two disappointing results in Oklahoma City and Ottawa. Apart from being shutout in both matches, the Rowdies shot themselves in the foot with major gaffes in each match that enabled the opposition to score. They’ll hope to get back to winning ways at home against their historic rivals, who they narrowly defeated with a 1-0 result in an ugly match back in the spring.

Fort Lauderdale managed to end their four-game losing streak last weekend, although just barely thanks to a goal from Maicon Santos in the 88th minute against an abysmal Jacksonville. PC was once again absent from the gameday roster, lending more credence to the rumor that the club has dealt or is in the process of dealing the dynamic Brazilian — possibly even to the rival Rowdies.

Puerto Rico FC host FC Edmonton, Saturday August 7, 7:30 p.m. ET

Edmonton are riding high after winning their eighth straight home match to assert themselves atop the standings. Their recent form will be put to the test, though, as they make their first trek to Puerto Rico FC this weekend.

Puerto Rico’s latest two-game road trip was a mixed bag. The expansion side finished with an embarrassing 3-0 result at the New York Cosmos, but then  went into Minnesota’s home on short rest and only settled for a draw after conceding in an own goal in the second half. Forward Hector Ramos continued his hot streak, tallying his fifth goal in only seven matches.

Minnesota United FC host Miami FC, Saturday August 7, 8 p.m. ET

While Minnesota has not lost a match since early July, the club is still coming off two frustrating draws to Rayo OKC and Puerto Rico. First they let three points slip away by allowing Rayo OKC to score in stoppage time, and then they only survived with a point against Puerto Rico due to an own goal from the expansion side.

The high-flying Loons attack should be eager for a matchup with Miami, who they dispatched 3-1 back in the spring. With eight points picked up in the first month of the Fall Season, Miami has already surpassed their total from the spring. A resurgence of the attack has played a pivotal role in the improvement, but the defense doesn’t seem to be pulling its weight at the moment, with Miami allowing seven goals in their last four matches.

New York Cosmos host Rayo OKC, Sunday August 8, 4 p.m. ET

The Cosmos get to enjoy the comforts of home for another week and have the added benefit of matching up with a club in the midst of turmoil. Despite Rayo OKC having a solid position in both the Fall Season and combined season tables, head coach Alen Marcina resigned in the face of massive financial cutbacks from the club’s Spanish investors. Rayo Vallecano assistant technical director Gerard Nus has already been appointed as the new head coach, but there’s no telling what kind of performance the team will be able to give with so much chaos swirling around them.