NASL Fall Week 6 Preview: Congested Schedule Could Allow Clubs to Gain on Ottawa

IMAGE, MINNESOTA UNITED FC

by JAKE NUTTING
NASL Beat Writer

A jam-packed week of NASL action will be a huge test for some clubs, but it’s also an excellent opportunity for others to gain ground on league-leading Ottawa.

With a six point lead in the Fall standings and a two point lead in the combined standings, Ottawa (27 pts Combined, 16 pts Fall) is only in action once this week. Meanwhile New York (25 pts Combined, 5 pts, Fall), Minnesota (22 pts Combined, 8 pts Fall), Atlanta (18 pts Combined, 10 pts Fall) and FC Edmonton (17 pts Combined, 8 pts Fall) all play twice this week.

A full six point week point for any of those clubs would do wonders for their place in the league pecking order.

Atlanta Silverbacks vs. Fort Lauderdale Strikers, Wednesday 7:30 p.m. ET

After two victories in their last two matches, the Silverbacks return home as unlikely road warriors. Fall Season additions like Pedro Mendes, Junior Burgos and Kosuke Kimura have helped the club surpass its Spring Season point total (8) after only six matches. Another win on Wednesday would cut Ottawa’s lead over Atlanta in the standings down to three points.

The Fort Lauderdale Strikers head into Atlanta after receiving their first loss of the Fall Season. Coincidentally, despite a four-game unbeaten run to start his second stint at the club, head coach Gunter Kronsteiner has fewer points than former coach Marcelo Neveleff did at the same point in the Spring.

New York Cosmos vs. Minnesota United FC, Wednesday 7:30 p.m. ET

A win for either side in this matchup would help the victor tremendously in the combined points standings. New York would at least temporarily overtake Ottawa in the top spot of the table and Minnesota would pull even with New York at 25 points in the standings.

The Loons were minutes away from dealing the Cosmos their first loss of the year back in the Spring Season but Raul managed to save the day with a late goal. Currently Minnesota is enjoying an even better run of play, scoring 13 goals in a four-game unbeaten run in league play. Last year’s Golden Boot Winner Christian Ramirez has scored a goal in each of those matches, earning himself Player of the Month honors for August.

The Cosmos picked up their first win of the Fall Season in dominant fashion over the Fort Lauderdale Strikers last weekend, scoring multiple goals in a match for the first time since June. The club fields one of the best defenses in the league, with only 12 goals allowed in 14 matches. Keeper Jimmy Maurer and his back line will have their hands full trying to suppress the confident Loons attack.

FC Edmonton vs. Indy Eleven, Wednesday 9 p.m. ET

After an impressive three-game road trip in the opening weeks of the Fall Season, the Eddies suddenly found themselves on the losing end of two straight home matches. A return of numerous Spring Season starters to the lineup this past weekend, including winger Lance Laing, did little to improve the attack against stingy Ottawa.

While the Eddies are getting several important contributors back to the gameday roster, Indy is losing one of its own. Leading scorer Dylan Mares is out after knee surgery last week. Mares may be the leading scoring, but he only has three goals to his name. Indy does not produce many goals, but their tallies have been spread out evenly, with six players netting two so far this year.

Atlanta Silverbacks vs. San Antonio Scorpions, Saturday 7:30 p.m. ET

Atlanta has a quick turnaround, but the club does get to stay home to host the struggling San Antonio Scorpions. San Antonio managed to earn a narrow 1-0 win in Atlanta when the two clubs met in the Spring Season.

Things have not gone well for the Scorpions since their 3-0 thrashing of the Tampa Bay Rowdies in week two of the Fall Season. All the promise that came out of that match has dissipated with the club following up with a draw and two straight losses. The poor run has left the club at the bottom of the Fall standings, even with Tampa Bay and Jacksonville at four points. Leading scorer Omar Cummings has been hampered by a knee injury suffered in training. The forward was reduced to a second half substitute role in the club’s most recent loss to Minnesota.

Fort Lauderdale Strikers vs. New York Cosmos, Saturday 7:30 p.m. ET

Fort Lauderdale has a quick shot at redemption after last week’s unconvincing performance in New York. The Strikers held the Cosmos to only one goal when they hosted the Spring Season champions in the season opener. The Cosmos are hoping their second trip to Florida of the Fall Season goes much better than the first when Jacksonville delivered them their first loss of the year.

Indy Eleven vs. Ottawa Fury FC, Saturday 7:30 p.m. ET

Ottawa has been tearing up the league in the opening stages of the Fall Season, with four straight wins in their most recent stretch of their 11-game unbeaten run. However, the club has achieved most of that success north of the border. Ottawa will travel across of Canadian borders for the first time since week two of the Fall Season, which happens to be the only time they have not won in the Fall.

The Fury head into Indy for the first time this year after finding stoppage time winners in their last two matches. When the two sides met in the Spring, Ottawa happened to grab all three points on a last minute goal as well.

Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. Jacksonville Armada FC, Saturday 7:30 p.m. ET

After a strong Spring Season, the Rowdies find themselves in an unlikely battle to get out of the bottom of the Fall table. Tampa Bay heads into the weekend even with Jacksonville on four points in the cellar of the Fall standings. A month long skid was stalled with a solid performance in a 1-1 draw in Carolina by the Rowdies last weekend. Recent signing Freddy Adu was unavailable in that match due to a minor Achilles injury. He remains day to day, but new loanee Omar Salgado is fully fit and available for selection after receiving his international clearances. The target forward arrives as the clubs finds itself in a major scoring drought. The Rowdies have only scored four times in the Fall and have been shut out twice.

Jacksonville has also only netted four Fall goals, but three of them came in their most recent match against Minnesota. To go along with the scoring woes, the Armada also field one of the worst defenses in the league. The club has allowed 10 goals in five matches. Only San Antonio has allowed more with 13 goals.

Minnesota United FC vs. FC Edmonton, Saturday 8 p.m. ET

Minnesota and Edmonton will come together for the first leg of the Flyover Cup of the Fall Season this weekend. The Eddies dominated the Spring Season match between the two sides, but failed to secure all three points when Minnesota converted on a late penalty to equalize. The Loons have been strong at home this year, losing only once in seven matches at NSC stadium. Meanwhile a short-handed Eddies side managed to take five points in a brutal three-game road trip in the beginning of the Fall Season.

  • Dan L

    over/under on cosmos’ “worldwide” fan following at the game – anyone?

    • slowleftarm

      2,500 or maybe 2,501 if that guy from Sweden who’s generally aware of Cosmos decides to go.

  • Dan L

    how about a couple Cuban fans who happened to have just defected by way of boat to florida, maybe add 3 more for that?

    and wasn’t there some other instance of an old uncle or father in law from Brazil or somewhere who also perhaps knows of them from the pele days, maybe he’ll fly in also, so add 1 more.

  • Kevin

    Im glad you guys are here. You finally beat the mighty Union and youŕe back to commenting on Cosmos soccer with the same old lines, Good for you.Very creative

  • OpenCupFan

    Why does anyone even cover NASL or the Cosmos? Didn’t they fold already?
    .
    Man, mls fans believe anything. Hey, we’re having an mls AllStar game in my backyard. As backyard commissioner I have selected Messi, CR7, and Zlatan to play in the game because of their contributions to the mls on the field this year. Also, would like to announce special guest referees Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. And so mls fans feel at home, there will be a baseball infield in the middle of the game and sprinklers have already been scheduled to go off during the game.
    .
    Any Montreal Impact players selected for the game will be given a month off to prepare for the game. Yes, of course Drogba is invited to the AllStar game.
    .
    #bushleaguemls
    .
    Support your local independent soccer clubs!

  • The total NASL schedule has fluctuated only very slightly between 26 and 28 games for each team. The league has set itself up for a headache with the fall split of the 2015 schedule.