NASL Fall Week 5 Recap: Ottawa Widens Fall Lead, Atlanta Surges Up the Table, More

IMAGE, TREVVOR RUZKOWSKI/INDY ELEVEN

by JAKE NUTTING
NASL Writer

It took another dramatic stoppage time winner, but Ottawa Fury FC successfully continued its unbeaten run against fellow Canadian side FC Edmonton. The victory extends Ottawa’s unbeaten run to 11 games, which matches the New York Cosmos for the longest streak in the league this year.

Ottawa now holds a six point lead over the Atlanta Silverbacks, who managed to leapfrog Edmonton in the Fall standings with a close 1-0 win over Indy Eleven.

The Fury, however, were unable to extend their two point lead in the combined standings. The Spring Season champion New York Cosmos managed to keep pace by earning their first win since May 23. The Spring Season runners up Tampa Bay Rowdies also stopped the bleeding with their first point since the Fall Season opener on July 4th. The Rowdies now sit four points back of Ottawa in the overall race. Minnesota United FC and the Carolina RailHawks are only one point behind Tampa Bay.

Jacksonville United FC 3-3 Minnesota United FC

Jacksonville looked poised to capitalize on its home field advantage from the very start against Minnesota. Sustained pressure in the opening minutes led to an early fifth minute goal from Jemal Johnson when he stretched out to finish a teasing cross from Lucas Scaglia.

The Loons composed themselves and equalized in the 21st minute through a Christian Ramirez header. The tally was his fourth in as many matches.

The Armada, though, came charging back to take the lead only minutes after Ramirez by pouncing on a catastrophic mistake from keeper Mitch Hildebrandt. Forward Alhassane Keita forced Hildebrandt to dribble around him near the endline and the keeper inexplicably passed the ball straight to Akeil Barret, who took full advantage of the empty net. Keita nabbed a goal of his own by using his pace to sneak behind Minnesota’s back line and bury a cross in the 72nd minute.

A two goal lead with less than 20 minutes seemed like a terrific opportunity to ride out another home victory. However, the Loons attack had other plans and took advantage of several lapses from Jacksonville. First defender Justin Davis cut the lead in half when keeper Miguel Gallardo whiffed on a simple ball into the box. Less than 10 minutes later, Jacksonville was reduced to 10 men when Shawn Nicklaw received his second yellow.

Minnesota scored only minutes after the ejection when the Armada back line parted and allowed Ibson to guide a low shot into the back of the net.

Carolina RailHawks 1-1 Tampa Bay Rowdies  

Tampa Bay headed into Carolina with the burden of a three game losing streak on its back. Head coach Thomas Rongen decided to switch to a more conservative midfield diamond and started Marcelo Saragosa for the first time since his injury back in May. Saragosa’s insertion helped remedy many of the defensive woes that led to eight goals allowed in the past three matches.

The Rowdies struck the first blow in the 29th minute when defender Darnell King connected with Brian Shriver on a give and go on the right wing. King capped it off with a good cross into the box for an unmarked Georgi Hristov, who buried the chance.

The visitors let the lead slip away only three minutes later. Carolina’s Nacho Novo caused a turnover in the final third and the ball fell to Ty Shipalane. The winger spun past his defender and raced into the penalty area. Defender Ben Sweat attempted to clear the ball, but it deflected off his teammate and fell to the feet of Mark Anderson, who quickly fired a shot into the net.

Neither team could find the back of the net in the second half. Carolina hardly tested the Rowdies keeper at all. The Rowdies nearly grabbed a winner, but King had his breakaway attempt snuffed out by keeper Akira Fitzgerald in the 78th minute.

Atlanta Silverbacks 1-0 Indy Eleven

The Silverbacks end the weekend with their third win of the Fall Season after delivering Indy its second home loss of the year. The home side dominated in the opening stages, but Atlanta was able to capture the lead against the run of play in the 15th minute. Jaime Chavez slotted a pass to former Indy Eleven player Pedro Mendes and the forward clinically slipped his shot past the keeper.

Mendes’ tally would be all that the Silverbacks needed to grab all three points, as the scoring woes that plagued Indy for much of the Spring reared their head again. Attacker Dane Richards found himself in some dangerous spots, but the final touch always let him down once he made it into the final third. Atlanta’s keeper Steward Ceus made two critical saves to secure the victory. The first save came in the 19th minute when he dove to deny a deft header from Brian Brown. Ceus came through again in the 76th minute by stretching out to push a shot to the far post from Kyle Hyland.

Ottawa Fury FC 1-0 FC Edmonton

Both Ottawa and Edmonton had excellent chances to notch goals in the opening minutes of Sunday’s showdown. First, Eddies keeper Matt Van Oekel was forced to deny a dangerous low shot to the corner from Oliver Minatel and Ottawa’s Romuald Peiser followed that up with a save on a shot from distance at the other end.

Edmonton struggled to break through Ottawa in the final third and star attacker Lance Laing was completely stymied by the tough Fury back line. Ottawa produced the better quality looks on net, with Tom Heinemann and Julian De Guzman both having clear goals cleared off the line in the second half.

Ottawa was finally able to find the winner in the 95th minute of the match, coincidentally the same minute they struck the winner against Carolina last week. This weekend it was Rafael Alves who was the hero through a well struck header off a corner kick.

New York Cosmos 2-0 Fort Lauderdale Strikers

New York looked hungry right at the opening whistle while in search of their first win of the Fall Season. A brilliant header from Raul was denied by the crossbar less than a minute into the match and the Cosmos only gained in momentum from that momentum.

After dominating possession entirely, New York got on the scoresheet in the 21st minute through a cross from defender Hunter Freeman that serendipitously lifted over keeper Josh Ford and into the net. The home side doubled its lead in the dying minutes of the first half when Raul sprung Leo Fernandes with a through ball into the penalty area. The winger slipped a quick far post shot right under a falling Ford.

Fort Lauderdale failed to mount many serious attacks in the match apart from a powerful blast into the back of the net late in the match from Jose Angulo that was incorrectly ruled offside.


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