NASL Fall Week 4 Preview: Cosmos, Rowdies Looking Over Their Shoulders, More

IMAGE, ROB KINNAN/CAROLINA RAILHAWKS

by JAKE NUTTING
NASL Beat Writer

A dismantling of Indy last weekend and a narrow victory over Atlanta on Wednesday has left Ottawa Fury FC with a two point lead in the Fall Season standings.

The other NASL Canadian side, Edmonton, holds the second place spot after an impressive three game road trip.

Combined standings leaders Tampa Bay (22 points) and New York (21 points) are in serious danger of losing their tenuous grip this weekend. Two straight losses for the Rowdies and the Cosmos first loss of the year last weekend means several teams are poised to make serious moves up the table. Ottawa and Carolina are both tied on combined points with New York heading into the weekend. And a newly confident Minnesota squad is only three points back of that trio of clubs. Another weekend of slip ups from the Rowdies and Cosmos could easily lead to a new combined table leader.

Indy Eleven vs. New York Cosmos, Saturday 7:30 p.m. ET

New York heads into Indy with an unfamiliar feeling after their first loss in league play this year. The two sides met only less than a month ago in the Fall Season opener and played to their fifth straight draw. Both matches between New York and Indy this year have ended in 1-1 draws, with the Cosmos nabbing second half equalizers each time.

Having played only two games in the young Fall Season, the Cosmos find themselves at the bottom of the table and facing another fixture without Marcos Senna as the midfielder continues to work out visa issues.

Indy has also fallen back to Earth after being on the losing end for the first time since interim head coach Tim Regan took over in the Spring. Indy’s usually steady defense was torched by Ottawa’s normally tame attack for four goals, three of which came off set pieces.

Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. Fort Lauderdale Strikers, Saturday 7:30 p.m. ET

Strikers head coach Gunter Kronsteiner will see quite a few friendly faces on the opposite bench when he returns to St. Petersburg for the first time since re-signing with the club. Many of Kronsteiner’s 2014 Cinderella Strikers squad crossed the state in the offseason to help the Rowdies become a league-leading club.

The two sides are even in the Fall standings on three points and have failed to click thus far. Tampa Bay’s attack has stalled in the Fall and the club is coming off two straight losses for the first time this year. Meanwhile, Fort Lauderdale has relied upon two penalty goals to stave off home defeats in their previous two matches.

The Rowdies strong Spring Season has left them with a lead in the Coastal Cup standings over Fort Lauderdale and Jacksonville, but the Strikers could pull even with the Rowdies if they were to notch a victory this weekend.

Creative midfielder Freddy Adu will suit up for his first Rowdies game since joining the club last week, but it is still unclear if he will see the field this early on.

San Antonio Scorpions vs. Minnesota United FC, Saturday 8:30 p.m. ET

Minnesota appears on the verge of recapturing the magic that made them one of the most potent attacking sides in the league. Miguel Ibarra has exited the stage, but last year’s Golden Boot winner Christian Ramirez finally looks to be back to his scoring ways. With the confidence of consecutive starts for the first time in a long while, Ramirez has tallied a goal in back to back matches and an assist in the club’s 4-0 rout of Jacksonville last week. The Loons will need Ramirez and the entire squad to fire on all cylinders as they kick off a three game road trip this weekend.

A 3-2 scoreline last week in Carolina gives the impression that San Antonio fought a close match, but the reality is that the Scorpions looked out of it for the bulk of the match and capitalized on some defensive lapses from the RailHawks. Without league-leading scorer Omar Cummings on the field, the Scorpions failed to threaten the RailHawks enough. There is no word yet on whether Cummings has overcome his training injuries that sidelined him last week.

Ottawa Fury FC vs. Carolina RailHawks, Sunday 3 p.m. ET

Ottawa sits alone atop the Fall Season standings after dispatching Indy and Atlanta at home this past week. The Canadian side is looking to expand its lead again this weekend as it plays host to Carolina. A win or a draw for Ottawa this weekend would also extend the club’s unbeaten run to 10 games. The only other team to reach a double digit unbeaten streak this year is the New York Cosmos.

Forward Nacho Novo was stellar for the RailHawks in their 3-2 win over San Antonio last weekend, scoring two and assisting on the other tally. However, the RailHawks can use all the help they can get to break down the stingy Fury defense that has allowed only 12 goals in 14 matches.  The RailHawks survived star winger Tiyi Shipalane’s first absence of the year, but they could certainly need his attacking contributions in Canada this weekend if he’s healthy.

FC Edmonton vs. Atlanta Silverbacks, Sunday 4 p.m. ET

The good news for the Eddies is that their three-game trek across North America is over and they not only survived, they did enough to earn sole possession of second place in the Fall Season standings. The confidence from that run could be enough to bolster them, though, after the unfortunate news that leading scorer Lance Laing will be unavailable again after Jamaica’s upset over the United States in the Gold Cup Semifinals.

The Silverbacks face the unenviable task of their third match in eight days after just traveling to Ottawa on Wednesday. Tired legs could end up being a huge factor for Atlanta again as they make the even longer trip up to Edmonton on Sunday. New lineup infusions Kosuke Kimura, Pedro Mendes and Junior Burgos have given a tiny spark to the dormant Atlanta attack, but the defense is still struggling to find its excellent Spring form. The Silverbacks have given up multiple goals in three of their Fall matches so far and have been whistled for a penalty in their two most recent matches.