NASL Spring Week 10 Recap: Rowdies Stay Alive, Indy Wins Dramatically in Regan’s Debut, More

IMAGE, TAMPA BAY ROWDIES

by JAKE NUTTING
NASL Beat Writer

The New York Cosmos have been the front runner for virtually all of the NASL Spring season, but they will need to take care of business one more time to officially clinch the title and the playoff spot that comes along with it.

Minnesota United FC was eliminated from Spring contention when they conceded late on the road to draw with Atlanta, but the Tampa Bay Rowdies held on to their long shot by disposing of FC Edmonton 2-1 on Saturday.

With only one match remaining for both clubs, the Rowdies (16 points) will need to win over last-place Atlanta and have the Cosmos (19 points) lose to Jacksonville. Since the Rowdies can only hope to match the Cosmos on points, they will also need to hope that if those results come, they come by wide margins so they can overcome the goal differential gap to win on a tiebreaker.

New York has a differential of nine, while the Rowdies have three.

Tampa Bay Rowdies 2-1 FC Edmonton

Missing six starters from red card suspensions, injury, or international duty didn’t seem to hamper the Tampa Bay Rowdies one bit. The speedy Rowdies front line was constantly putting Edmonton on its back heels and only seemed impeded by the waterlogged pitch at Al Lang Stadium.

Former NASL Golden Boot winner Brian Shriver was the man of the match for the Rowdies in his first start of 2015. As an attacking central midfielder, Shriver showed no rust in connecting with his fellow attackers on the chance that earned the corner that Darwin Espinal put away in the 37th minute.

Shriver got on the board himself for the game winning goal in the 60th when he secured a punch out from keeper John Smits from 20 yards out and delivered a stunning volley into the back of the net.

Edmonton would get one of their own only three minutes later as winger Lance Laing fooled a couple defenders and fired a curling right-footed shot from 22 yards out that keeper Matt Pickens could do nothing to prevent.

Laing’s tally wasn’t enough as the Rowdies maintained their composure and were able to close out the match — unlike last week’s late collapse in Indy.

San Antonio Scorpions 1-0 Atlanta Silverbacks

San Antonio dealt the Atlanta Silverbacks their first home loss of the year off an Omar Cummings goal and some heroics from keeper Daryl Sattler.

After an uneventful opening to the match, Scorpions midfielder Marvin Chavez picked off an Atlanta pass in the 26th and sent a hopeful long ball into space for the nimble Billy Forbes. The midfielder drew the defense toward him as he moved closer to goal and then delivered a cross to Cummings on the far post; a simple finish for the veteran. It was Cummings’ fifth of the season, which puts him in a tie with Lance Laing for most goals.

The forward helped secure the lead he gave his team in the 33rd minute when he cleared a sure attempt on goal from Atlanta’s Simon Mensing off the line.

Atlanta had the better run of play in the second half. Hans Denissen entered the match in second and made an immediate impact as the Silverbacks pressed for an equalizer. Sattler, a former NASL Golden Glove winner, was the only reason that the Silverbacks were unable to get on the scoresheet. The keeper made six saves in the match, including an incredible diving effort to deny Denissen on a well-taken free kick from 20 yards out.

Carolina RailHawks 1-1 Minnesota United FC

Coming into Saturday, Minnesota and Carolina experienced two of the best runs over the past month. Neutrals would’ve had a difficult time determining that fact, though, in the first half at WakeMed Soccer Park.

Once again dealing with injuries, Carolina struggled to amount any possession in the midfield as Minnesota continuously applied pressure. The RailHawks were able to find the net in the 21st minute, but the goal was waived off for offside.

Minnesota didn’t take long to wake up in the second half. JC Banks opened the scoring in the 48th minute. The forward received a good delivery from Pablo Campos at the top of the box and took a shot that deflected off center back Futty Danso and past keeper Akira Fitzgerald.

The Loons only increased the pressure after the goal, but the second goal continued to elude them as it did last week against the New York Cosmos. Like in the Cosmos match, a late breakdown let an otherwise punchless opponent back into the match. In the 80th minute, the usual suspects of Ty Shipalane and Novo connected for the equalizer. Shipalane caught up to a ball heading for the endline and played a perfect cross to Novo on the far post. The forward’s header was on target for his fourth goal of the year. The sequence was also Shipalane’s fourth assist of the year.

Novo received a straight red card on a tackle on Minnesota’s Juliano Vicentini along the sideline. The Loons could do nothing with the man advantage and had to settle for one point on the road and now need to turn their focus on the Fall season.

Indy Eleven 2-1 Fort Lauderdale Strikers

Interim head coach Tim Regan’s first match at the helm for Indy Eleven ended in a similar fashion to last week’s match, the only difference being that this week’s last-minute goal was a game winner.

Fort Lauderdale opened up the scoring in the 23rd minute thanks to Stefano Pinho. Dani Sanchez sent in a cross from the right wing that Pinho was able to redirect past keeper Kristian Nicht. The goal was the first scored by the Strikers at home since April 11.

Unfortunately for the home supporters the Strikers were unable to hold to the lead as Indy’s Victor Pineda would score two unanswered goals. First, in the 44th minute, the Pineda snuck a low-driven shot from the edge of the box past keeper Josh Ford. The winning goal came in the final minute of stoppage time when a botched clearance dropped to Pineda and the midfielder blasted a shot past Ford again.

Jacksonville Armada FC 1-1 Ottawa Fury FC

Neither team got on the scoresheet in Sunday’s hot and humid matinee in North Florida, although the home side was able to produce some good looks on goal. The scoreless draw was Ottawa’s fourth straight clean sheet in league play and Jacksonville’s third straight goalless effort including the U.S. Open Cup.

Midfielder Marcos Flores was the driving force for the Armada throughout the match, showing aggressively off the ball and providing terrific distribution to his teammates ahead of him. Flores produced one of the best scoring chances himself in the 50th minute, firing off a shot from 25 yards out that was destined for the top left corner if not for a brilliant diving save from keeper Romuald Peiser.

The Armada managed to get 10 shots on frame, but Peiser was only forced to make three saves. One Armada opportunity was thwarted by the crossbar, an arching Jaime Castrillon header that had Peiser beat.

Ultimately, the Armada could not break down the compact visitors, but were able to squeak by with a point as Ottawa failed to produce many quality chances of their own.