NASL Fall Week 4 Recap: Ottawa Takes Top Spots in Both League Tables, More

IMAGE, OTTAWA FURY FC/RICHARD A. WHITTAKER

by JAKE NUTTING
NASL Writer

Ottawa Fury FC’s impressive unbeaten run has finally nabbed the club top spots on both the NASL Fall Season and Combined Points standings. The Canadian side entered the weekend even with the New York Cosmos and one point behind the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the combined table. Another draw for New York against Indy Eleven and Tampa Bay dropping its third straight match coupled with Ottawa taking care of business in thrilling fashion against the Carolina RailHawks gives the second year club a lead in both tables.

A disappointing home loss for Edmonton against the Atlanta Silverbacks also bolsters Ottawa’s Fall campaign with a five point lead.

At the close of the weekend, Carolina and Minnesota are both still nipping at the heels of the combined points leaders, with only three points separating them from the top.

Indy Eleven 1-1 New York Cosmos

For the third time this year, and sixth time in their only six encounters, New York and Indy played to a stalemate. The 1-1 scoreline is the same as the previous encounters this season, but it was the Cosmos who struck first this time around. In the second minute of first half stoppage time, Raul played a perfect one-time ball to set Walter Restrepo free on the right side of the penalty area and the winger slid his attempt between keeper Kristian Nicht and the near post.

The visitors failed to carry their lead into the halftime break as Indy would charge down and score less than a minute after Restrepo’s tally. Dragan Stojkov played a brilliant long ball from the halfway line that midfielder Dylan Mares calmly chested down and slotted past keeper Jimmy Maurer.

The closely contested nature of matches between these clubs boiled over in the 65th minute when New York’s Sebastian Guenzatti and Indy’s Erick Norales were shown red cards for extracurricular blows after a tough challenge. The ejections didn’t have much impact on the game as neither team could manage meaningful chances outside of the stoppage time goals.

Fort Lauderdale Strikers 3-1 Tampa Bay Rowdies

With recently returned head coach Gunter Kronsteiner back on the sideline for Fort Lauderdale, the Strikers came out with significantly more determination than they showed in the Spring Season matchup between the instate rivals.

Sustained pressure from the Strikers in the midfield and offensive third left the Rowdies frustrated and caused numerous turnovers in the first half. A needless giveaway at midfield led to a quick goal on a counter in the 16th minute when Marlon Freitas found PC on the back post with a hopeful cross.

Poor defensive positioning from the fullbacks and lazy efforts defending the counter attack gave the Strikers ample scoring opportunities. Second half substitute Bruno Nunes found the net in the 78th minute when left back Ben Sweat left him completely unmarked. Stefano Pinho got in on the action in the third minute of stoppage time with a counter attack after an unsuccessful corner kick from the Rowdies.

The only positive the Rowdies can take from the match is the debut of Freddy Adu. The creative midfielder provided an undeniable spark in the attack after entering in the 75th minute. He took defenders on one-v-one and showed good vision with his distribution up top. Adu provided the assist on Maicon Santos’ stoppage time goal. It was the club’s first goal since the Fall Season opener.

Minnesota United FC 4-3 San Antonio Scorpions

The Loons and Scorpions provided the shootout of the weekend as they combined for seven goals, five of which game in the first half alone. Christian Ramirez kicked things off in the 11th minute with his third goal in as many league games by heading home a chip from Kalif Alhassan. The home side equalized five minutes later when Adrian Cann finished a good corner kick delivery from Marvin Chavez.

Minnesota took the lead again in the 22nd minute on a breakaway when Ramirez played an excellent through ball for Justin Davis and the defender slipped it past keeper Daryl Sattler. San Antonio found another equalizer in the 33rd minute when Carlos Mendes was whistled for foul in the box and Rafael Castillo converted the ensuing penalty.

The visitors pulled out front again in the 37th minute when Ibson headed home a curling free kick from Alhassan. After assisting on two, Alhassan notched one of his own in the opening minutes of the second half with a clever chip over Sattler.

San Antonio scored on another penalty from Castillo in the 86th minute, but the comeback fell short after forward Eric Hassli was shown a red card in the 90th minute.

Ottawa Fury FC 2-1 Carolina RailHawks

Ottawa looked confident once again on Sunday afternoon with the RailHawks in town. After controlling much of the match in the opening stages, Ottawa’s Aly Alberto Hassan found the net by getting his head on the end of beautiful cross into the box. It was Hassan’s first start and goal since joining on a transfer from Fort Lauderdale.

Carolina’s Nacho Novo was a persistent threat for Ottawa’s defense for much of the match. He would have likely had multiple goals if not for some good saves from keeper Romuald Peiser. Hope seemed lost for the RaiHawks in the 56th minute when Wells Thompson was sent off after receiving two yellow cards. The visitors kept pressing on the counter, though, and found their breakthrough in the 81st minute when Simone Bracalello fed Novo for a quick transition goal.

Ottawa woke up after Novo’s equalizer and suddenly started producing a number of chances. Bizarrely, six minutes of stoppage time were given and Carl Haworth buried a counter attack opportunity in the fifth stoppage time minute to claim all three points.

Atlanta Silverbacks 3-1 FC Edmonton

After a scoreless first half, Atlanta came out swinging in the opening minutes of the second 45. In the 49th minute, forward Jaime Chavez pounced on a rebound off the post to put his side ahead. Chavez finished another in the 66th minute when he took advantage of a ball snuck over the Eddies back line.

The visitors went down to 10 men in the 72nd minute after Michael Mravec received a straight red card. Edmonton capitalized and cut the lead in half in the 86th minute through a one on one situation with forward Tomi Ameobi and keeper Steward Ceus. However, any hope of salvaging a point was dismissed when Atlanta’s Shaka Bangura got on the end of long ball and dribbled on Edmonton’s keeper to put the match away. The Silverbacks are still last in the combined table, but the road victory does push the club into single digits points for the year.