NASL Fall Week 6 Recap: Ottawa, Tampa Bay Victories Highlight High Scoring Weekend

IMAGE, MATT MAY/TAMPA BAY ROWDIES

by JAKE NUTTING
NASL Beat Writer

The five matches played this weekend in the NASL featured 24 total goals scored. Despite the high rate of scoring, only Ottawa Fury FC and the Tampa Bay Rowdies ended the weekend with full three point results.

Ottawa took their show stateside this weekend and put in one of their most commanding performances of the year. The Fury’s 4-1 demolishing of Indy Eleven gives the club 19 points from only seven matches in the Fall Season. Atlanta (14 pts) and Edmonton (12 pts) are the closest to Ottawa in the Fall standings.

The win also returns Ottawa to the top of the combined points standings with 30 points after the New York Cosmos (29 pts) picked up four points from two matches this week. The Tampa Bay Rowdies are four points behind Ottawa after earning their first victory since the Fall Season opener on July 4. Ottawa has extended their unbeaten run to 12 games, which is one game better than the 11-game run that the Cosmos went on to open the year.

Atlanta Silverbacks 3-3 San Antonio Scorpions

Buoyed by three consecutive wins, the Silverbacks dominated the opening stages of Saturday’s match and got on the scoresheet in the 23rd minute when Pedro Mendes rifled a low shot from the top of the box past keeper Matt Cardone

The visitors answered swiftly two minutes later through an Omar Cummings header to finish off a long throw into the box.

Atlanta grabbed the lead again six minutes into the second half after Junior Burgos curled a 25 yard free kick up and over the wall. The Silverbacks managed to double their lead in the 57th minute when Jaime Chavez grabbed his fifth of the year by finishing off a second chance opportunity when Cardone failed to adequately punch out a cross.

The Silverbacks were unable to ride out the final 30 minutes and earn their fourth straight win. San Antonio came storming back in the 60th minute when Billy Forbes notched a header of his own. Cummings tallied his second of the night and 10th of the year by curling a shot into the net to equalize. Cummings now leads the league in scoring by a margin of three goals over Nacho Novo and Christian Ramirez.

Fort Lauderdale Strikers 3-3 New York Cosmos

Fort Lauderdale headed into Saturday’s match with a seemingly serious handicap. Regular starters Stefano Pinho, James Marcelin and Karsten Smith were all unavailable after red cards in Wednesday’s 2-1 loss to Atlanta. But the Strikers found a way to power through the absences and jump out to a huge lead over the visiting Cosmos.

Midfielder Gabrielo converted a penalty in the 23rd minute and Walter Ramirez converted another in the 51st minute after a more controversial call on defender Ayoze in the box. Ramirez notched his second of the night when he crept behind the back line to finish a cross from PC in the 59th minute.

The Cosmos were unfazed by the massive hole they found themselves and quickly cut the lead to one goal in the span of five minutes. Winger Leo Fernandes got his head on the end of a cross from Hunter Freeman and Adam Moffat buried a blast from 25 yards away.

It looked as if New York would find themselves on the losing end of the match against the Strikers for the first time in the modern era — until they found a bit of the stoppage time magic that helped them throughout the Spring Season. Freeman once again provided the assist when he played the ball in for Sebastian Guenzatti to tap into the net.

Ottawa Fury FC 4-1 Indy Eleven

Ottawa Fury FC displayed virtually no sign of distress in its first match outside of Canadian borders in over a month. It took Ottawa only nine minutes to break through Indy’s defense when Siniša Ubiparipović placed a strike past keeper Kristian Nicht.

Neither team produced much for the rest of the first half, but the floodgates opened wide in the opening minutes of the second 45. Andrew Wiedeman slid a ball past Nicht in the 54th minute after connecting with Ryan Richter on a give-and-go, but Indy showed signs of life when forward Duke Lacroix converted on a transition attack.

Ottawa quickly dashed any hopes for the home side by scoring two quick goals. Mauro Eustaquio notched his first goal for the Fury in the 62nd minute and Wiedeman extended the lead after winning a fifty-fifty ball against Erik Norales to earn a breakaway.

Tampa Bay Rowdies 3-2 Jacksonville Armada FC

Tampa Bay and Jacksonville matched the excitement and even the exact scoreline from their Spring Season match up this weekend. Forward Maicon Santos was the hero for the Rowdies in that Spring match and he showed up once again in front of the home crowd.

After having a goal waived off for offside in the second minute, Santos found the back of the net when Martin Nunez played a perfect ball into space for the Brazilian on the left side of the penalty area in the 7th minute. Santos had no issue finishing off that opportunity and he struck again in the 32nd minute after keeper Miguel Gallardo made the bewildering decision to sprint toward the area in front of the Rowdies bench to clear a long ball. Santos beat the keeper to the ball and calmly dribbled into the box before knocking the ball into the empty net.

Santos had a hand in Tampa Bay’s final goal in the 50th minute when he picked out Brian Shriver across the field on a counter attack and the forward rocketed the half volley under the crossbar.

Despite being limited to few clear chances on net, the visitors were able to claw their way into the match through a brace from Alhassane Keita. The attacker converted on a penalty in the 54th minute and on a free kick in the 67th minute. The Armada’s comeback attempt lost steam though after Lucas Trejo received a straight red card for a reckless tackle in the 79th minute.

Minnesota United FC 1-1 FC Edmonton

The Loons began Saturday night’s rivalry match with Edmonton in complete control. Minnesota dominated in every statistical category in the first half, but failed to give their loyal home supporters anything to celebrate.

It was the man with the hot foot, Christian Ramirez who finally gave his squad a lead in the match. The forward converted a penalty after attacker Yago was taken down in the 47th minute. Ramirez has now scored a goal in six straight league matches.

Minnesota continued to heap pressure on the visiting Eddies, but the back line held strong and never conceded in open play. Edmonton’s typically porous defense unit had one of its strongest showings of the year in the match.

Eventually the Eddies began to develop some momentum of their own in the second half and were able to use their lethal pace to break through on a counter attack. Winger Lance Laing made his first serious contribution since returning from the Gold Cup by setting up forward Tomi Ameobi for the equalizer in the 71st minute.