The North American Soccer League (NASL) Spring Champion Minnesota United FC aims to keep its momentum rolling full steam ahead and its unbeaten streak – currently five games – as they take on visiting Carolina RailHawks at NSC Stadium on Thursday Night Fútbol at 7 pm CT (8 pm ET), highlighting NASL Week 2 encounters. Soccer fans can tune in to www.NASLlive.com to watch all five matches this week in Atlanta, Indy, Minnesota, Ottawa and San Antonio.
Minnesota United, who captured its first title since 2011 last month and secured one of the four berths to ‘The Championship,’ are coming off a 3-0 victory on the road against Fort Lauderdale Strikers to open the Fall season.
“It's going to be a big game," said United coach, Manny Lagos. "The short turnaround from Saturday traveling and to play Thursday is a little taxing for the guys, but we know we have a very good team in the RailHawks who is coming off a tough home loss and looking to get a good result. We want to start strong in the Fall and it's time for us to get off on the right foot at home on Thursday.
The RailHawks hold a slight lead in the head-to-head series and are the last team to have beaten United at NSC Stadium. This past Spring, the last time both clubs met, the encounter ending in a scoreless draw.
“It’s going to be a tough game,” said RailHawks coach, Colin Clarke, whose side lost to Indy Eleven in their Fall Season opener. “We are disappointed with the result and our performance against Indy. Minnesota had a good result on the road and won the Spring Season, but it is a place that we’ve been successful before. It is simple, we are going to try to get the three points.”
Fall Week 2 action continues on Saturday, July 19 with two sides searching for their first victories of the campaign when Atlanta Silverbacks host FC Edmonton at Silverbacks Park at 7:30 pm ET.
The Eddies lead the head-to-head series against the Silverbacks, however they are winless against Atlanta in the last four encounters.
“We have a tough game against Atlanta,” said FC Edmonton coach, Colin Miller. “We will need to be at our very best to get a result in Atlanta in very warm conditions. I am looking forward to a positive reaction from the team to make up for what happened on Sunday.”
Another sold out crowd is set for IUPUI's Michael A. Carroll Stadium on Saturday evening as Indy Eleven searches for their first NASL home victory when they take on Tampa Bay Rowdies at 7:30 pm ET.
Indy is coming off their first League win having topped the host RailHawks, last week, 2-1, while the Rowdies posted a 3-2 come-from-behind victory over the visiting Silverbacks.
“Getting the first win under our belts finally takes a bit of the weight off our group's shoulders,” said Indy Eleven coach, Juergen Sommer. “At the same time, there's a different type of pressure knowing that we've yet to give our home fans a taste of victory in league play, and that will be a tough task against a Rowdies team that was very physical the first time we saw them here in April.”
This is the second consecutive meeting between the two sides at Michael A. Carroll Stadium; with the last encounter ending in a 1-1 draw in front of sold out crowd of 10,412.
"This will be a very difficult game for us, as was our trip to Indianapolis in the beginning of the season,” said Rowdies coach, Ricky Hill. “They've got fantastic fans that support their team emotionally and continuously. We know the (Indy) Eleven will be a very difficult opponent.
“We're coming off an emotional victory and I'm hoping we can take that high into this game."
Closing out Saturday's encounters will be San Antonio Scorpions returning to Toyota Field to welcome Fort Lauderdale Strikers in the NASL’s Game of the Week on ESPN3 at 7:45 pm CT (8:45 pm ET).
The San Antonio-Fort Lauderdale encounter is a rematch from last Spring Season finale, which both sides battled to a 2-2 draw.
Despite trailing the head-to-head series vs. the Scorpions, the Strikers are unbeaten in their last three meetings against Texas club.
Strikers coach Günter Kronsteiner looks to rebound against Scorpions following last week’s loss to United: “We had a tough opening match against Minnesota, now we just have to put that game behind us. We’ve got to continue to work together and get some points on the road. San Antonio is always a tough place to play; they’re going to be ready for us. But we’re still in the fight for a spot in the post-season, so we’re prepared to go in there and give them a tough game.”
The 2014 Fall Season Week 2 concludes on Sunday, July 20, when New York Cosmos travel to the Canadian province of Ontario for the first time in three decades to take on Ottawa Fury FC at their brand new stadium TD Place at 3 pm ET. A large crowd is anticipated to welcome the new venue and the defending NASL Soccer Bowl Champions.
This is the second meeting between the two clubs with the Cosmos having won 1-0, at home in the Spring Season Finale.
“We have put last week’s loss behind us and are looking at this match as a new start to our season,” said Cosmos coach Giovanni Savarese, whose team lost 3-1 at home to Scorpions last week. “Ottawa played us very tough last season, and we’ll need to be ready to play a team that will be very motivated playing their first game at their new stadium.”
Soccer fans around the world will also be able to ‘Watch Every Match Live’ – all 90 NASL matches -- throughout the 2014 North American Soccer League season, including all the Week 2 matches on www.NASLLive.com.
Watch Every Match Live throughout the 2014 NASL Fall season by subscribing to either a Monthly Pass or a Full Season Pass that gets you access to all 90 matches (including The Championship and Soccer Bowl). A Monthly Pass to NASLLive.com costs $4.99 recurring, a Season Pass is available for $19.99.
NASL Fall Season Week 2 Schedule (All kickoff times US EST)
Thursday, July 17
Minnesota United FC vs. Carolina RailHawks
NSC Stadium; Blaine, Minn. 8 pm
Saturday, July 19
Atlanta Silverbacks vs. FC Edmonton
Atlanta Silverbacks Park; Atlanta, Ga. 7:30 pm
Indy Eleven vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies
IUPUI's Michael A. Carroll Stadium; Indianapolis, Ind. 7:30pm
San Antonio Scorpions vs. Fort Lauderdale Strikers
Toyota Field; San Antonio, Tex. 8:45 pm
Sunday, July 20
Ottawa Fury FC vs. New York Cosmos
TD Place; Ottawa, Ontario 3 pm