NASL Week 8: What to Watch For

Gerardo Torrado Image, Indy Eleven

By JAKE NUTTING

imagesFor the first time since the start of the North American Soccer League’s Spring Season, the Jacksonville Armada are not on the top of the table.

That distinction, at least for now, belongs to Miami FC, which has won two straight games and is unbeaten in its last three. Miami’s opponent is unbeaten and winless Indy Eleven, which has tied all six of its league games so far this season.

Cosmos Surviving Without a Striker

Midfielder Javi Márquez has done much of the heavy lifting for the New York Cosmos (2-1-3, 9 points) lately, tallying two of the team’s last three goals and notching an assist on the other. Márquez’s contributions have been helpful because the Cosmos are without a true striker. After missing the last two matches, Amauri‘s status remains a mystery as he deals with personal issues, according to the team. Even when the Italian striker was with the team, though, he made only one start and two late appearances off the bench.

Injuries have also kept Eugene Starikov and Irvin Herrera from slotting in up top. Like Amauri, Herrera has one start. Starikov has more minutes (214) than Amauri and Herrera combined. He could be available for selection on Saturday after returning to training this week. The Cosmos have just 16 shots on goal through six matches, showing how desperate they are for a threat up top. They will hope to grab their first win at MCU Park this weekend, against Puerto Rico (0-3-3, 3), the team that has conceded a league-worst nine goals.

Indy Inching Closer to Dubious Record

Fewer than two months into the season, Indy Eleven (0-0-6, 6) is more than halfway to matching its record for the most draws in a single season.

Last year, Indy ranked first in the league with 10 stalemates. Indy registered nine draws in each of its first two seasons. But now, one slip up coupled with wins by Puerto Rico and FC Edmonton (1-4-1, 4) is all it would take for Indy to land in last place. Breaking out of its funk won’t be easy this week as Indy, a loser in last year’s Championship final, travels to face the league-leading Miami FC (3-1-2, 11).

Jacksonville Defense vs. North Carolina Attack

Although the Armada (2-0-4, 10) are the only team in the top of table that has yet to drop a match, they have also gone winless since Week 3. Jacksonville’s defense (only 3 goals against) has led the way, tied with New York with a league-leading three shutouts. That run of form will need to continue if the Armada hopes to pick up points at North Carolina (2-2-2, 8), which has yet to be shutout this year. Midfielders Lance Laing and Nazmi Albadawi are creating numerous scoring chances in North Carolina’s attack, while the team’s vulnerabilities on defense (8 goals against) has kept it out of the top four in the table.

Dos Santos’ Deltas Make First Trip to Canada

Known as one of the best defensive teams in the NASL, FC Edmonton notched its first shutout of the year last week at Indy.

The normally resolute Eddies are tied for the second-most goals allowed (8), but the woeful attack is really where Coach Colin Miller’s squad is falling short. Through six matches, the Eddies have a league-worst three goals from a mere 12 total shots on goal. The team was ousted from Canada’s Voyageurs Cup this week with a loss to the USL’s Ottawa Fury.

The Eddies this weekend will face an NASL expansion team with some serious Canadian influence. Led by former the Ottawa Fury Coach Marc Dos Santos, the San Francisco Deltas (2-1-3, 9) field the experienced Canadian internationals, Nana Attakora, Kyle Bekker, Karl Ouimette and Maxim Tissot, who signed with the team this week.