Minnesota United FC aims to remain perfect and a top of the North American Soccer League Spring Season Standings going into Week 5 when they visit the defending champion New York Cosmos in a Monday Night Fútbol clash at Hofstra University's James M. Shuart Stadium at 7:30 pm on May 12. On their heels are the remaining eight teams all of whom remain in contention for the 2014 Spring Championship. Soccer fans can tune in to www.NASLlive.com to watch all five matches.
The intense race for the 2014 Spring Title has reach the midway point as Minnesota, who has won four in a row to start out the season, posted a 3-2 home win against Indy Eleven last week to extend its overall winning streak to six. Meanwhile, New York lost its second consecutive game last Saturday for the first time in three decades after falling 1-0 on the road to Carolina.
“Our only focus is to make sure we are ready to start winning some games, and especially this weekend to be prepared as much as we can to play against Minnesota,” said Cosmos coach Giovanni Savarese, whose team has won the previous two meetings against United in 2013 both by 1-0 score lines. “We see this as being a final game for us.”
United coach Manny Lago knows the Loons’ work is cut out for them against the Cosmos: "It's tough, they have so many offensive weapons. Of course, we know the team has been driven by Marcos Senna and their ability to distribute the ball and come into the play late for goals. We certainly have to be aware of him, and also his set piece prowess. Overall we know they'll be hungry for goals and we need to make sure we shut down their dangerous players."
The NASL Week 5 encounters commence on Saturday, May 10, as one of the league's expansion team, Ottawa Fury FC, host Tampa Bay Rowdies at Carleton University's Keith Harris Stadium at 7 pm ET.
Fury FC have outscored their opponents 5-2 in its first two home matches, while the Rowdies, who earned a 1-0 win at San Antonio Scorpions last week, continue to be one of the best road teams in the NASL and are unbeaten away from home so far in 2014.
“We need to be ready to build on how we ended last Saturday against San Antonio,” said Rowdies coach Ricky Hill. “Ottawa have had some good results, so we’re not going to underestimate them.
“They beat Carolina 4-nil in their last home game and that takes some doing, so they’re a team of good quality. I know Marc Dos Santos from his time at Montreal and I know he’ll have his side prepared to give us a really tough game.”
The other NASL expansion team hosting on Saturday is Indy Eleven when they greet FC Edmonton at IUPUI's Michael A. Carrol Stadium at 7:30 pm ET.
This is the first meeting between the two sides as both clubs are also looking for their first victory of the season. Indy Eleven is currently unbeaten at home following consecutive draws to open their inaugural season, while FC Edmonton, who is coming off a 2-1 win over the defending Canadian champion Montreal Impact in the first-leg of the semifinals, is looking for its first NASL road victory since 2012.
“Very excited for this game,” said FC Edmonton coach Colin Miller. “I've heard the excitement and atmosphere in city is fantastic. As a team, we know they're dangerous and have had some good results, but we are going there looking to get some points.”
Elsewhere on Saturday, a pair of clubs riding two-game winning streaks face-off as Atlanta Silverbacks travel to meet second-place Fort Lauderdale Strikers at Lockhart Stadium at 7:30 pm ET.
Silverbacks lead the head-to-head match-ups against the Strikers, however Fort Lauderdale has won the last two meetings this past Fall Season while outscoring Atlanta 7-2.
Silverbacks’ Technical Director, Eric Wynalda is looking forward to the match-up against the Strikers on Saturday: “I like the way they (Fort Lauderdale) play, and they have an entertaining squad. I think we have to be at our best if we're going to have any sort of success against them. The elements might be a factor for other teams when they go down there, but that won't be a factor for us because we live in Atlanta. We're highly anticipating this trip, and this will be a pivotal game for both sides.”
Rounding out Week 5 encounters will be the NASL Match of the Week on ESPN3 featuring Carolina RailHawks as they visit San Antonio Scorpions at Toyota Field at 8:30 pm ET.
The fifth-place Scorpions, who are searching for their first home victory in 2014, have won three of the last four encounters against RailHawks at Toyota Field.
Carolina, who is currently third in the league standings, extended their unbeaten streak to 18 games at WakeMed Soccer Park last week following a 1-0 win against the visiting New York Cosmos.
“San Antonio is a talented team and we are looking forward to the matchup on Saturday night,” said RailHawks coach Colin Clarke. “It's going to be another tough weekend of competition. Coming off a very emotional victory last week we are going to have to be prepared and ready to play.”
Scorpions coach Alen Marcina also adds: "We are off to the best start in team history, yet we still have the potential for substantial growth as a team. Carolina won't make it easy on us as they have a strong attack and steady defense, but we believe in ourselves and what we are capable of achieving."
Soccer fans around the world will also be able to ‘Watch Every Match Live’ – all 135 NASL matches -- throughout the 2014 North American Soccer League season, including these Week 5 matches in Ottawa, Fort Lauderdale, Indy, San Antonio and New York, at www.NASLLive.com. This NASL has extended the Free Trial of NASLLive.com to encompass the entire Spring Season.
NASL Week 5 Schedule - (All kickoff times US EST)
Saturday, May 10
Ottawa Fury FC vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies
Carleton University’s Keith Harris Stadium; Ottawa, Ontario 7 pm
Fort Lauderdale Strikers vs. Atlanta Silverbacks
Lockhart Stadium; Fort Lauderdale, Fla. 7:30 pm
Indy Eleven vs. FC Edmonton
IUPUI’s Michael A. Carrol Stadium; Indianapolis, Ind. 7:30 pm
San Antonio Scorpions vs. Carolina RailHawks
Toyota Field; San Antonio, Tex. 8:30 pm ET/7:30 pm CTS
Monday, May 12
New York Cosmos vs. Minnesota United FC
Hofstra University’s James M. Shuart Stadium; Hempstead, N.Y. 7:30 pm