With the opening today of Ottawa Fury FC's new home stadium, TD Place, the North America Soccer League (NASL) has seen two modern-era attendance records broken: single match and overall weekly attendance. Ottawa Fury FC welcomed 14,593 fans, surpassing the previous record of 13,151 of San Antonio Scorpions from 2012. Additionally, League-wide this week's attendance of 42,404 surpasses the weekly high from Week 1 of the Spring Season, 36,443.
On the pitch, New York Cosmos spoiled the debut of Ottawa Fury FC at beautiful TD Place in the Canadian capitol, 1-0 and earned the Cosmos their first points of the Fall Season.
Earlier in the week, Minnesota United FC continues to set the pace in the NASL Fall Season following their 1-0 victory this past Thursday over Carolina RailHawks. Undeterred by the Loon's six match winning streak and 6 points, San Antonio Scorpions and Tampa Bay Rowdies are keeping pace with Scorpions at the top of the table on Total Goals in the early part of the Fall Season.
This week, the NASL has also debuted their combined table - showing the combined points accumulated from the completed Spring Season and the ongoing Fall Season as clubs battle for the remaining three spots in The Championship.
Sunday, July 20
The record crowd witnessed a tough, tight match that provided plenty of chances, excellent defense and a number of near misses, including several off the woodwork.
Sebastian Guenzatti would put the Cosmos up in the 36th minute when he capitalized on a missed Ottawa defensive clearance. Guenzatti picked up the loose ball and slotted home with a cool finish.
Cosmos keeper Jimmy Maurer kept the hosts out of the net and secured his NASL-leading seventh shutout.
"We were controlling the game early and we were able to get good mobility, create some chances and we were able to find the goal," noted New York Cosmos coach Giovanni Savarese. "I am very proud of our guys; they were able to fight for every ball as Ottawa was giving us a lot of pressure. We are content to get three points here and we’ll go one game at a time."
Saturday, July 19
Indy Eleven welcomed Tampa Bay Rowdies to a sold out Michael A. Carroll stadium and the hearts of 10,555 faithful were broken in the late moments of the match by Rowdies Georgi Hristov - who scored his second game winner in as many weeks.
In the 38th minute, Indy would find the back of the net through its star midfielder Kleberson. Smith deftly headed a cross by Kleberson with a laid off header back out to the Brazilian, who took the return ball on a one-hop volley and fired it into the lower left corner of goal. The finish was Kleberson's fourth on the year.
Rowdies kept the pressure on and just 5 minutes later, Darel Russell charged forward with the ball at his feet and shot from about eight yards out, beating Indy goalkeeper Kristian Nicht, but his shot caromed softly off the post and dribbled across the face of goal. Casey Townsend seized the opportunity and scored to pull the Rowdies even.
Once more, Georgi Hristov was the last-second hero for Rowdies, scoring in the 89th minute to silence the rambunctious crowd.
"Very, very happy with the win," said Rowdies coach Ricky Hill. "It's great to get three points with such a difficult place to come to. I thought our overall performance was very pleasing. We didn't get the rhythm in the second half as well as we did in the first half but we always have to threat at times. Very happy with three points. "
The Atlanta Silverbacks and FC Edmonton played to a scoreless first half on Saturday night at Atlanta Silverbacks Park in front of 3,100 fans. Silverbacks defender Borfor Carr and FC Edmonton forward Frank Jonke had their team's best scoring chances in what was a slow opening 45 minutes.
Saturday represented a changing of the guard in Atlanta, with technical director Eric Wynalda coaching his last game for the club. Jason Smith, who will take over as head coach, joined Wynalda on the bench for the game.
The Silverbacks earned a free-kick at the top of the box in the 75th minute and Pablo Cruz's shot went just over the wall and passed the outstretched arms of Smits to find the back of the net and give the Silverbacks a 1-0 lead.
"[Keeper Joe] Nasco saved the day for sure, great shot and a great save, but very appropriate that Pablo Cruz got the win for us. I'm just thrilled he got the goal for us. I love Atlanta, this has been a wonderful opportunity, thank you to all the staff and my dear friend Ricardo Montoya."
A loud and energized crowd of 6,958 sparked the San Antonio Scorpions to the top of the Fall Table with a 2-0 victory over visiting Fort Lauderdale Strikers.
Rookie Billy Forbes continues to make his mark for the Scorpions as he struck for the opening goal of the match in only the 23rd minute. Walter Restrepo dribbled around the edge of the Ft. Lauderdale box from right to left, avoided two challenges from Strikers players and then he slid the ball towards the half-circle as the defense collapsed on him. This gave Forbes his second goal of the season in NASL play.
Forbes then added his NASL-leading 5th assist right before halftime to double the advantage. He fed Thomas Zahorski, who was posted up inside the 18-yard-box. The Polish striker made a nice turn on the Strikers' defender marking him and hit a low shot that goalie Kamil Čontofalský couldn't get to.
In the second half, Scorpions goalkeeper David Bingham made save after save on clear Strikers chances. His best came in the 60th when Ft. Lauderdale midfielder Mark Anderson unleashed a wicked shot that was locked in on the far upper 90 like a guided missile. But Bingham took two steps, leapt and at a full reach was able to get just enough on the ball to push it wide and out for a corner kick that the Scorpions were able to clear.
"We knew we had to start off on the right foot, it was a big win for us," said Scorpions coach Alen Marcina. "The end but thats entertaining for the fans and that put us in first place right now so we just gotta carry the momentum and keep it going."
Thursday, July 17
A first-half goal from Brazilian midfielder Daniel Mendes was all the NASL Spring Champion Minnesota United FC needed to extend their unbeaten streak to six games after defeating the visiting Carolina RailHawks, 1-0, in front of a crowd of 7,287 during Thursday Night Fútbol at NSC Stadium.
Minnesota got the lone goal in the 26th minute of the game. Defender, Connor Tobin of the RailHawks, played a bad touch out to give United a corner. United defender Justin Davis took the kick and sent it through the traffic in the box and found a charging Cristiano Dias who touched the ball back towards goal. Daniel Mendes was waiting near the goal line to tap home Dias' ball to give United the 1-0 lead.
Both sides had several chances on goal, but Minnesota had the most promising attempts. Carolina struggled to challenge Minnesota keeper Mitch Hildebrandt, who was able to come off his line to easily deal with the Carolina attack. RailHawks keeper Scott Goodwin had a busy half, having to make several diving clearances to protect his goal.
"I thought we started a bit sluggish, but then we started to play some really good soccer," said United coach Manny Lagos. "We had some great movement and created great chances and I think it was a deserved goal from that type of positive play. It's nice to get another three points and six through two games. We have built some positive momentum with the team getting some good results."NASL Fall Season Week 2 Results and Attendance
Thursday, July 17
Minnesota United FC 1
Carolina RailHawks 0
Saturday, July 19
Atlanta Silverbacks 1
FC Edmonton 0
Indy Eleven 1
Tampa Bay Rowdies 2
San Antonio Scorpions 2
Fort Lauderdale Strikers 0
Sunday, July 20
Ottawa Fury FC 0
New York Cosmos 1
Attendance: 14,593 (new NASL modern-era single match record)
The Championship Defined
As a reminder, the Minnesota United FC and Fall Season champions will be joined in the semifinals of The Championship by the two clubs with the next best overall records from both seasons combined. The semi final winners will compete in The Championship final.
As noted in the combined table, if the season were to end today and for illustrative purposes only, The Championship would be #1 Seed - Minnesota United FC, #2 Seed San Antonio Scorpions, #3 Seed - New York Cosmos and #4 Seed Tampa Bay Rowdies.