NASL Fall Week 5 Preview: Showdown for Canadian Fall Season Leaders, More

IMAGE, OTTAWA FURY FC

by JAKE NUTTING
NASL Writer

The budding rivalry between Ottawa and Edmonton will have the highest stakes of its short history this Sunday afternoon. After all, the two sides are currently atop the Fall Table; a place no one would have predicted just a few short weeks ago. Ottawa is looking to extend its healthy five point lead on the Fall table and its slimmer two point lead on the combined points table.

Sunday will also be the home of another intriguing matchup. Fort Lauderdale will be heading to Long Island brimming with confidence after picking up its first win of the Fall Season. Meanwhile, the slumping Cosmos are desperate to get their first win since May 23 as they find themselves in dead last in the Fall standings.

Jacksonville Armada FC vs. Minnesota United FC, Friday 7:30 p.m. ET

The highlight machine that was the Loons attack in 2014 has reemerged in recent weeks. The club has scored four goals in each of their previous two matches and 2014 NASL Golden Boot winner Christian Ramirez’s return to the lineup is a major factor in the turnaround. The striker has tallied a goal in each of the club’s previous three matches.

Minnesota’s attack is hoping for the same result it garnered at home only two weeks ago against Jacksonville. However, a 4-0 trouncing might be tougher to come by in the Armada’s home venue. The expansion side has only dropped one match at home this year. Jacksonville’s home field advantage even dealt the New York Cosmos their first loss of the season two weeks ago. The Armada attack that has only scored one goal in four Fall matches should be bolstered by the return of attacker Pascal Millien from the Gold Cup. The Haitian international still leads the club with four goals.

Carolina RailHawks vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies, Saturday 7: 30 p.m. ET

The RailHawks return home hoping to put the stoppage time heartbreak loss in Ottawa out of their mind as quickly as possible. If not for a dying-moment winner from Carl Haworth, the RailHawkss would have been able to take points in two straight matches without star winger Ty Shipalane. An ankle injury has kept Shipalane out of the lineup, but veteran forward Nacho Novo has more than admirably stepped up and filled the void. Novo has three goals and one assist in the past two matches.

Novo and the RailHawks will be squaring off against a defense that has lost much of its luster in the Fall Season. After a Spring season full of strong defensive output, the Tampa Bay Rowdies have already conceded eight goals in four Fall Season matches. A number of the goals allowed have come on quick counter attacks and Thomas Rongen hopes to stem the tide by returning to a more conservative midfield. Marcelo Saragosa is fully fit to return to the lineup after months of inaction to help the defensive effort.

Indy Eleven vs. Atlanta Silverbacks, Saturday 7:30 p.m. ET

The biggest surprise of last weekend was likely that the Atlanta Silverbacks were one of the rare clubs to travel up to Canada and take a full three points. Atlanta’s 3-1 victory over Edmonton on Sunday was only the club’s third win of the year, and the first since the lineup infusion of the midsummer break signings. Another victory for the Silverbacks pulls them even with Indy at 18 points on the combined points table and it would also mean they would surpass their Spring Season point total (8) after only six matches. Jaime Chavez’s three goals in the last three matches have pulled the forward into the lead as the club’s leading scorer with four goals.

Chavez could have another opportunity to add to his total against an Indy back line that will be trying to plug a hole left by the suspended Erik Norales. The captain’s red card means that Cory Miller is likely to get the start in central defense.  Indy withstood roughly 30 minutes with a makeshift back line against the Cosmos last week, but a full 90 against a likely confident Silverbacks side could spell trouble.

FC Edmonton vs. Ottawa Fury FC, Sunday 4 p.m. ET

A successful three-game road trip had the shorthanded Eddies confidence sky high. But it only took a quick humbling 3-1 loss to Atlanta to bring expectations back down to Earth.

All is not lost, though, as the club still holds sole possession of second place on the Fall table and game changing winger Lance Laing has returned to camp from the Gold Cup. A player of Laing’s caliber rejoining a club that is still weathering several injuries to valuable players could be huge in the club’s hunt for  a playoff spot.

The Eddies are playing host to not only their only Canadian rival in the NASL, but also the only club ahead of them in the Fall standings. Ottawa’s five point gap over Edmonton means their lead is safe for at least one more week. However, a win for Ottawa this weekend could give them a significant lead over the field for the Fall title. A win or draw for the Fury would also mean they tie the Cosmos 11-game unbeaten run that came to an end two weeks ago in Jacksonville. Before Ottawa found its solid form, Edmonton burned them twice by a score of 3-1 in the Canadian Championship. When the two sides met in league play at the end of May, though, they played to a scoreless draw.

New York Cosmos vs. Fort Lauderdale Strikers, Sunday 5 p.m. ET

The Cosmos tendency to play to draws may be finally coming around to bite them. The club did run through the Spring Season unscathed to capture the title, but they also drew half of their matches in that stretch. Now they have yet to take a full three points in the Fall Season, with two draws and one loss under their belt. In fact, they have not won a league match since May 23, long before their exhibition against the Cuban national team. The Cosmos will once again be without Marcos Senna as he continues to resolve his visa issues. However, center back Roversio may be ready to make his first appearance of the Fall Season since being sidelined with an injury.

Head Coach Gunter Kronsteiner has yet to hit a rough patch since returning to Fort Lauderdale’s sideline. The club is unbeaten since he re-signed and even picked up its first win of the Fall Season over the rival Tampa Bay Rowdies last week in convincing fashion. The return of experienced midfielder James Marcelin from the Gold Cup, a re-energized PC and forward Stefano Pinho’s six goals in seven league games could spell continued success for the Strikers in the Fall.


Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /nfs/c12/h02/mnt/211961/domains/empireofsoccer.com/html/wp-includes/class-wp-comment-query.php on line 399

Warning: sizeof(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /nfs/c12/h02/mnt/211961/domains/empireofsoccer.com/html/wp-content/plugins/bmo-expo/classes/theGallery.php on line 136