NASL Spring Week 7 Recap: Stoppage Time Goals Save Cosmos, Minnesota Surges Up Table, Florida Derby, more

IMAGE, MINNESOTA UNITED FC

by JAKE NUTTING
NASL Beat Writer

Week seven almost produced the first New York Cosmos loss of the season. If not for a pair of stoppage time goals from the first place team, the weekend’s winning teams would have gained some crucial ground in the Spring title race.

As it stands, the Rowdies were able to regain sole possession of second place with their Coastal Cup victory and inch a little closer to the Cosmos on the table.

The team that may have the Cosmos and the rest of the league looking over their shoulders, though, is Minnesota United. Despite an underwhelming start, the Loons have grabbed their first two victories of the year in the last two weeks and now sit in fourth place. Playing into their favor is the fact that they have a game in hand and still have a chance to defeat the Cosmos head-to-head.

An inconsistent Spring for all the clubs in the league has kept Minnesota’s hopes alive for the time being.

Tampa Bay Rowdies 1-0 Fort Lauderdale Strikers

In typical Florida fashion, the Coastal Cup showdown between the Rowdies and Strikers had massive thunderstorms roll through for huge stretches of the match. The newly renovated pitch at the Rowdies’ home venue withstood the downpour, though, and Tampa Bay was able to cruise to victory without interruption.

21-year-old forward Robert Hernandez was the player to break the scoreless deadlock in the 55th minute. The slippery conditions caused Strikers captain, and former Rowdies captain Frankie Sanfilippo to botch a clearance that Georgi Hristov pounced on. Hristov sent in a low cross to Maicon Santos, who put a shot on frame that was denied by keeper David Meves. The deflection, though, landed at the feet of an unmarked Hernandez at the back post for an easy open-goal finish.

The Strikers only truly threatened to score one time in the match. In the 75th minute, substitute forward Aly Hassan slipped behind the back four to gain a one-on-one with keeper Matt Pickens. However, center back Stefan Antonijevic recovered well and timed a tackle perfectly to snuff out the chance before Hassan could get a shot off.

The return of Hristov from suspension and the marked improvement from Richard Menjivar compared to his debut in Ottawa gave the Rowdies a much needed boost in the midfield. Menjivar is quickly developing good chemistry with his new squad and his awareness and ability to maintain possession should come in handy for a team that had struggled with sloppy turnovers all year.

Carolina Railhawls 2-2 New York Cosmos

In search of their first win at Carolina since joining the league in 2013, the Cosmos came dangerously close to their first loss of the season.

Midfielder Ty Shipalane, similar to many of his performance this year, was a pest for the usually solid Cosmos back line whenever he touched  the ball. It took only seven minutes for Shipalane to help get his team an early lead. On the edge of the box, the speedy winger raced by Cosmos defender Ayoze and picked out Neil Hlavaty in front of goal for a quick one-timed shot. The bang-bang play caught keeper Jimmy Maurer off guard and the put the Cosmos in a hole early.

Shipalane got a goal of his own in the 76th minute to double the lead. Once again, he zipped by Cosmos defenders, but this time he chose to fire off a beautiful curling shot from the top of the beat Maurer.

The Cosmos would not be denied a point, though. After Ty Shipalane was taken off late in the match, the visitors came to life and tallied two goals in the five minutes of stoppage time. The first was an own goal from Carolina center back Futty Danso after some shambolic defending. The equalizer came in the last minute of play when substitute Andres Flores sent in a low shot from 25 yards out that rolled through a crowded box and right past keeper Hunter Gilstrap to keep New York’s unbeaten streak intact.

Minnesota United FC 3-1 Indy Eleven

The consensus preseason favorite, Minnesota United, picked up their second straight win in convincing fashion. The Loons first got on the board with a stunning free kick from Kalif Alhassan in the 22nd minute. Keeper Keith Cardona was able to get hands on the curling strike, but it was too string for him to parry away to safety.

The home side looked ready for a fight early on in the second half. In the 49th minute, Sergio Pena connected on a corner kick to equalize. The Loons attack proved too much for Indy to weather though as the visitors were quickly able to regain control of the match and score two more goals to earn the victory.

In the 63rd minute, forward Pablo Campos fired off a shot, forcing Cardona into a diving save that bounced to an on-running Justin Davis, who did not waste the chance to retake the lead. Juliano Vicentini and Christian Ramirez combined well in the final third to leave Vicentini with an open shot to put the game out of Indy’s reach in the 83rd minute.

Atlanta Silverbacks 1-1 Jacksonville Armada FC

After three scoreless effort from the Silverbacks attack, it took them only one minute to score against the visiting Armada. Hans Denissen, in his first start of the season, was the player to end the scoring drought when he combined with fellow forward Jamie Chavez  to slip by the back line.

Atlanta was able to exploit Jacksonville’s three man back line early on but couldn’t find the net again despite a few good chances. The inability to capitalize came back to bite the home side when the Armada found an equalize in the 20th minute. Midfielder Marcos Flores fed the ball into Alhassane Keita, who slipped the ball past keeper Steward Ceus.

Other than Keita’s goal, the defense for Atlanta held string once again and held Jacksonville to only one shot on goal. The match is the fourth straight draw for Atlanta at home this year.

San Antonio Scorpions 3-2 FC Edmonton

It took a shootout with the NASL’s only Texas club to end the Eddies 10 game unbeaten streak at home. With San Antonio’s lethal attack, a end-to-end shootout is the type of match that plays right into their hands. Striker Omar Cummings started the scoring frenzy in the 21st minute when a bouncing Edmonton block came in his direction. The Jamaican timed his striker well and sent in a shot just past the outstretched arms of Matt Van Oekel.

Edmonton, resting a few starters in preparation for Wednesday’s Canadian Championship semifinal with the Vancouver Whitecaps, got into the match thanks to Daryl Fordyce. The forward struck in both the 53rd and 74th minute to record a brace. The first came off a knockdown ball from Johann Smith that Fordyce buried. His second came off a rebound opportunity when keeper Daryl Sattler couldn’t handle a powerful shot from Hanson Boakai.

Fordyce’s effort wasn’t effort, though, as the Scorpions’ Billy Forbes had a brace of his own in the second half. In the 62nd minute, Forbes raced past the Eddies back line and fired a shot by Van Oekel who could not shut down the angle in time. Forbes struck again for the game-winner in the 82nd minute on another one on one situation with Van Oekel.