NASL Fall WK 1 Recap: Rowdies Overtake Cosmos in Overall Table, Record Fury Run Continues

IMAGE, MATT MAY/TAMPA BAY ROWDIES

by JAKE NUTTING
NASL Beat Writer

The NASL Fall Season kicked off in decisive fashion, with four of the five matches ending with a winner. To little surprise, the New York Cosmos and Indy Eleven produced the weekend’s only draw. The two sides have now drawn all five times they have played each other.

New York’s draw and Tampa Bay taking care of business against the Atlanta Silverbacks again means that the Rowdies take the top spot on the combined points table, ahead of the Cosmos by one point.

However, the Carolina RailHawks, FC Edmonton and Ottawa Fury FC all picked up convincing wins to jump up the tight Fall and overall points tables. Edmonton leads the Fall table by virtue of their 4-0 thumping of San Antonio. Ottawa finally combined some offense with their stout defense, helping them move all the way up to fifth on the overall table. And Carolina’s smooth 3-1 dispatch of Minnesota saw them take sole ownership of third place on the overall table.

Carolina RailHawks 3-1 Minnesota United FC

After drawing with Minnesota at home in the Spring Season finale, Carolina made relatively quick and easy work of the Loons at home to open up the Fall Season.

The RailHawks jumped to a 2-0 lead after only 17 minutes with two tallies within two minutes of each other. Former Minnesota forward Simone Bracalello struck first in the 15th minute after he found yards of space to line up a blast 25 yards away from goal, nailing the top right corner. A chip from Nazmi Albadawi two minutes later beat keeper Sammy Ndjock but not the crossbar and fell to winger Ty Shipalane for a simple finish on an open net.

In an attempt to replace Miguel Ibarra, fullback Keith Venegas was moved to an attacking midfield position. He showed some confidence on the ball in this match, including on Minnesota’s lone goal. While Venegas was racing to the endline with the ball, he was able to cut the ball back across net and find Daniel Mendes for a calm finish.

In his first game back after a broken foot in the preseason, Austin da Luz extended the lead for Carolina in the 56th minute. He was initially denied by Ndjock on the breakaway chance, but the rebound fell right back to him for the second chance finish.

The Loons had every chance to get back in the match when Carolina’s Wells Thompson was ejected after being given a highly questionable second yellow from the referee in the 60th minute, but they were left empty handed after failing to produce any scoring chances with the advantage.

Tampa Bay Rowdies 2-1 Atlanta Silverbacks

A month long break enabled the Silverbacks to regroup as a unit and bring a bit more of the defensive organization that helped them start the Spring well, but it still wasn’t enough to pull out a result at Tampa Bay.

The Rowdies came out swinging in the opening 30 minutes to score twice. An excellent counter from Corey Hertzog and Brian Shriver in the in the 22 minute was the first goal of the match. Hertzog found an unmarked Shriver near the penalty spot and the attacker tried playing the shot back across goal, but had his shot deflected by keeper C.J. Cochran. The deflection continued to trickle toward goal and Rauwshan McKenzie came in to clear it, but he badly struck the ball and ended up putting the ball in the net himself.

Right back Darnell King got the eventual game winner eight minutes later when he took a quick left-footed strike after cutting inside the box to surprise Cochran.

Atlanta’ lone goal on the match came on an own goal from center back Stefan Antonijevic. The imposing defender rose to clear the ball on Atlanta’s only corner of the match, but somehow directed the ball into his own net.

Both teams wilted under the hot Florida sun in the second half and chances dwindled along with the energy. Tampa Bay was able to comfortably coast to another home victory.

The win for the Rowdies extends their home winning streak to five games.

Ottawa Fury FC 2-0 Jacksonville Armada FC

Ottawa’s league-leading defense showed no signs of rust coming out the midsummer break as they extended the club’s record shutout run to 616 minutes. It was Ottawa’s attack that surprised some folks by scoring more than one goal in a match for the first time in 2015.

Fury FC got on the scoresheet in the 13th and 86th minutes. First, Andrew Wiedman’s shot off a corner bounced off the post and fell to Mason Trafford for his first goal since joining Ottawa. Tom Heinemann notched the second goal by getting his head on the end of an arching cross into the box.

In the absence of leading scorer Pascal Millien and up against Ottawa’s well-organized defense, Jacksonville struggled to develop many meaningful attacks. The visitors only managed two shots on goal in the match. Jaime Castrillon had a powerful header denied cleared off the goal line by Fury defender Rafael Alves in the 63rd minute to protect the scoreless streak.

FC Edmonton 4-0 San Antonio Scorpions

Edmonton head coach Colin Miller was faced with selecting a starting squad that was far from him his preferred lineup in the Fall opener, but he did hang on to one key piece for the match. Jamaican winger Lance Laing postponed his Gold Cup departure to remain with the Eddies and his presence made an undeniable impact.

Laing was the one who drew the penalty only two minutes into Sunday’s match that forward Sali Jalali converted for his first goal of the year. Laing converted a penalty of his own in the 68th minute and then followed that up with a stellar curling free kick from just outside the box for the fourth and final goal. 18-year-old Hanson Boaki notched his first NASL goal in between Laing’s efforts in nice bit of hustle to keep the play alive inside the penalty area.

San Antonio looked behind the ball for much of the match and was put at a serious disadvantage after defender Nana Attakora and keeper Daryl Sattler received red card within three minutes of each other halfway through the second 45. It was third time that the Scorpions were blanked this year and with his brace, Laing moves to six goals on the year and surpasses San Antonio’s Omar Cummings as the league’s leading scorer.

New York Cosmos 1-1 Indy Eleven

Sunday night’s match up between New York and Indy ended the way all the match ups between the two sides end; with a draw. This particular match followed the same story line as the game the two teams played earlier in the Spring Season, with the Cosmos searching for and finding one equalize after an Indy goal against the run of play.

In the 12th minute, a clearance from right back Jimmy Mulligan deflected off an Indy player and went straight up into the air. Keeper Jimmy Maurer chose to stay close to his line, but was beat on a well-struck volley from Wojciech Wojcik. Maurer kept the visitors from doubling the lead by stymieing Duke Lacroix on three occasions. The keeper made two crucial saves on a header and a shot from the forward, and also cut off a threatening breakaway from the rookie.

The Cosmos found their equalizer off the bench from Walter Restrepo, who was nursing an injury from the U.S. Open Cup earlier in the week. In the 78th minute, Restrepo fired a shot at a diving Kristian Nicht and the keeper’s block deflected right off Restrepo’s head and into the net.

A game winning goal from New York’s Sebastian Guenzatti was waived off when the midfielder was deemed offside. The Cosmos comeback stalled and the tradition of draws continued.

  • Cosmologist

    The Scorpions’ keeper was sent off for kicking the ball at the Edmonton players as they celebrated their second (contentious) goal from the spot. Since San Antonio had also had what looked like a perfectly good goal disallowed, his frustration was understandable. Still, it was a bone-headed move.