NASL Fall Week 9 Preview: Midweek Clash Between League-Leading Cosmos, Fury

IMAGE, NY COSMOS

by JAKE NUTTING

The races for the Fall Season and combined standings are ratcheting up with a third of the regular season remaining.

After Ottawa’s off week, four teams are now only four points back of the Fall Season leaders. New York, Edmonton, Minnesota and Atlanta could cut that lead to one if the Fury somehow stumble in their two matches this week. And in the combined points race, Tampa Bay escaped last week with a hold of the final playoff spot, but can likely not afford more disappointment with Fort Lauderdale, Edmonton and Atlanta now all one win away from overtaking them.

Ottawa Fury FC vs. New York Cosmos, Wednesday 7 p.m. ET

The Cosmos will travel to Ottawa for the first time this year to take on the surprise team of the Fall Season. Since New York narrowly defeated Ottawa 1-0 in Brooklyn back in May, the Fury have gone on a remarkable run. A 12-game unbeaten run, one game better than the Cosmos’ longest unbeaten streak this year, has helped catapult them to the top of the Fall standings, ahead of the Cosmos by four points.

The Cosmos, however, still hold the coveted top spot in the combined standings with a five point gap between them and the Fury in second place. Wednesday’s showdown could go a long way towards solidifying the number one overall seed for the NASL postseason. Ottawa will be eager to get back on the field after having their record unbeaten run snapped in stoppage time by Minnesota United FC.

Ottawa Fury FC vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies, Saturday 7 p.m. ET

After their pivotal match against New York, Ottawa will stay home for a quick turnaround match against the reeling Tampa Bay Rowdies. After Saturday’s bitterly disappointing 3-1 loss to Minnesota at home, the Rowdies will be in desperate search of any kind of hope. The club is looking for some firm ground after losing six of nine matches in the Fall Season and firing its head coach Thomas Rongen and general manager Farrukh Quraishi late last week. Interim coach Stuart Campbell is the man tasked with righting the ship and will need to do so against a well-organized Ottawa side — on turf. The Rowdies have yet to earn a win, let alone put in a convincing performance on artificial turf this season. With Edmonton and Fort Lauderdale only two points back from them in the combined standings, the Rowdies must turn things around soon if they hope to hold onto one of remaining playoff spots.

Atlanta Silverbacks vs. FC Edmonton, Saturday 7:30 p.m. ET

This will be the last regular season matchup between two sides that have had very similar years. Edmonton and Atlanta both finished near the bottom of the Spring Season standings, but have managed to find a groove in the longer Fall Season. Heading into the weekend, the two clubs are dead even at 15 points in the Fall and are separated by only one point in the combined standings. A win for either side could move squarely into the combined standings playoff picture if the Tampa Bay Rowdies continue to find ways to lose.

Atlanta torched the Eddies 3-1 in Canada earlier in the Fall but have been unable to secure a full three points in their last two matches at home. The Silverbacks will be without captain center back Simon Mensing, who received two yellow cards in the club’s draw last week. Meanwhile, the Eddies will need star winger Lance Laing to find his stellar form once again if they are to remain in the playoff hunt. Laing has been shockingly quiet since returning from the Gold Cup and was virtually nonexistent in the team’s 2-0 loss to Fort Lauderdale last week.

Fort Lauderdale Strikers vs. Indy Eleven, Saturday 7:30 p.m. ET

The Strikers still have some distance between themselves and the Fall Season leaders, but their first win of the Fall against a team not named the Tampa Bay Rowdies last week has helped them leap into contention in the Fall standings. With and underwhelming Indy Eleven side coming to town this weekend, Fort Lauderdale now finds itself only two points back from the final playoff spot in the combined points standings. That surge up the standings is due in large part to NASL Player of the Week Stefano Pinho, who now leads the team with nine goals and is only one behind the league-leading Omar Cummings. For Indy Eleven, loanee Dane Richards has finally lived up to promise with a goal in each of the club’s last two games, but the team is still struggling as a whole to consistently produce scoring chances.

Jacksonville Armada FC vs. San Antonio Scorpions, Saturday 7:30 p.m. ET

Jacksonville controlled the pace of last week’s game in San Antonio but ultimately failed to secure any point on the road after Billy Forbes scored minutes after entering the match. The Armada will have a quick shot at revenge this week when they host the Scorpions at home, where they have lost only one of nine matches played this year. San Antonio and Jacksonville have allowed 32 goals between them this year, so another lackluster 1-0 result seems likely for their last meeting of the regular season.

New York Cosmos vs. Carolina RailHawks

If anyone is competing with the Tampa Bay Rowdies for worst spiral down the standings in the Fall Season it has to be the Carolina RailHawks. Head coach Colin Clarke’s squads are normally known for gaining steam as the year progresses, but that has been far from the case this season. The RailHawks are winless in their last five and have conceded three goals in each of their last three matches, all of which were loses. Last week’s loss to the Cosmos must be particularly frustrating for the RailHawks because they went toe to toe with league leaders and ended the first half with a 1-0 lead. The second half, though, was an utter disaster as they allowed three unanswered goals and to make matters worse, lost star attacker Tiyi Shipalane to an ankle injury. With or without Shipalane, though, the RailHawks will need to stop the defensive bleeding that has cropped up since the retirement of defender Wes Knight.

  • John

    Another NASL owner under investigation by DOJ

    ST. PETERSBURG — The stakes in an ongoing lawsuit against Bill Edwards’ Mortgage Investors Corp. were raised after the plaintiffs alleged the St. Petersburg power broker “looted” tens of millions of dollars from the company.

    http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/realestate/lawsuit-alleges-bill-edwards-drained-mortgage-company/2242708

  • Kevin

    This owner sounds like a real piece of work, from dismantling his team last year, to firing his coaching staff while the team is in the middle of making playoffs, to this charge. Some guys dont know how lucky they are to have what they have.