With just three weeks left in the North American Soccer League (NASL) Spring Season, Minnesota United FC has taken control of the table with their 3-1 victory over Fort Lauderdale Strikers in the #FightForFirst at NSC Stadium this evening.
New York Cosmos traveled to Tampa Bay Rowdies in the NASL Match of the Week on ESPN3 and put up three goals to keep pace with the Loons and within reach of the Spring Championship. Fort Lauderdale slip back to 3rd Place as they prepare to travel to Tampa next week for a Florida Derby. San Antonio Scorpions and Carolina RailHawks stay within striking distance at 10 points with three games to go.
Carolina RailHawks extended their unbeaten streak at WakeMed Soccer Park to 19 games as they defeated Atlanta Silverbacks 2-0 in front of 5,527 rowdy fans.
The RailHawks first goal of the game came in the 16th minute of play when Mike Grella drew a penalty after a series of passes in the Silverbacks' 18-yard box. Grella stepped up and placed the penalty kick into the left side netting as it beat goalkeeper Eric Ati for his first tally of the season.
Twenty minutes later defender Connor Tobin headed home a cross from forward Zack Schilawski in the 36th minute for the 2-0 victory.
"Atlanta stepped a little higher and put us under pressure," said RailHawks coach Colin Clarke. "First half was great to watch, great soccer, great entertainment and we look forward to going on the road."
Another sellout crowd of 10,285 at IUPUI's Michael A. Carroll Stadium was on hand as the League's newest teams faced off in NASL play on Saturday with Ottawa Fury FC defeating Indy Eleven 4-2.
The action heated up between the two 2014 expansion clubs quickly. Ottawa Fury FC lit up the scoreboard first on a 16th minute goal by midfielder Tony Donatelli. Indy Eleven quickly responded in the 19th minute as the newcomer, midfielder Blake Smith, on loan from the Montreal Impact, was taken down in the box by the Fury's Oliver Minatel. Referee Mark Kadlecik awarded Indy Eleven a penalty kick and forward Mike Ambersley netted the tying goal past Fury goalkeeper Devala Gorrick.
In the 40th minute, a Fury corner kick by midfielder Richie Ryan landed at the feet of defender Omar Jarun, who was able to flick the ball on a short angle and past Indy keeper Kristian Nicht. The Fury doubled the lead quickly in the 42nd minute on an unassisted goal by Donatelli from the spot he scored his first goal of the match.
Indy closed out the first half scoring in the 44th minute when forward Ben Spencer rolled one to the right side of the net to make the score 3-2 for Fury FC.
In the second half, Oliver made in 4-2 with his third goal of the season off an assist from forward Carl Haworth in 68th minute.
"I'm just happy for the fans in Ottawa that were able to watch the game and were able to see us get important points," said Ottawa coach Marc Dos Santos. "It's tough to say right after a game, but I felt we gave a lot of chances to Indy. Because of their offensive pieces, they created a lot of problems to our team."
Indy Eleven coach Juergen Sommer thanked the fans, "You couldn't ask anymore from the city and the environment. It's a very enjoyable platform for the players to play on. And the support here is as good as any team in the United States so that is a very great positive. I know the team really wants to win for the fans here and the city so we are working towards that."
One of theNASL's oldest rivalries continues into the NASL's modern era, continued in the NASL 'Match of the Week' live on ESPN3.
The New York Cosmos scored three goals in a span of 13 minutes early in the second half to beat the Tampa Bay Rowdies 3-0, at Al Lang Stadium Saturday night.
The Cosmos, who won their second straight game had scored just two goals in their previous four matches. The floodgates opened in the 48th minute when Mads Stokkelien got his head on a cross from Marcos Senna.
Three minutes later, Ayoze put a low free kick from 20 yards out around the outside of the wall and past a diving Ryan Thompson to double the Cosmos advantage.
In the 61st minute, Paulo Mendes stalked Jay Needham and stripped the Tampa Bay defender from behind and put a low shot in the back of the net to give the Cosmos a commanding 3-0 lead.
"We [knew we] had to pressure them in the back and we were able to find a goal quick in the 2nd half," said Cosmos Coach Gio Savarese. "It's an important win for us because we played against a quality team with a great coach. It's a good win like this to set the tone going forward."
Rowdies coach Ricky Hill added, "Hard to lose and disappointed for our fans, because even when we are losing they are encouraging. We need to eliminate individual errors and we didn't do that on three occasions and they scored three goals."
Minnesota United FC welcomed Fort Lauderdale Strikers at NSC Stadium with the #FightForFirst on the line. The Loons emerged in control of the NASL Spring Championship with a 3-1 win and 15 points.
United's goals came courtesy of an early penalty struck by Simone Bracalello and two goals scored and assisted by the Christian Ramirez-Miguel Ibarra tandem.
The second half scoring was started by the Strikers in the 50th minute by Martin Núñez who put away a pass from Shawn Chin. Minnesota responded quickly when Miguel Ibarra played the ball on the right side of the field and took it along the top of the box before passing to Christian Ramirez. The United striker took a touch before striking a shot into the upper right corner to take the lead back.
The complexion of the game changed drastically in the 70th minute. United played the ball behind the Fort Lauderdale lines to Ramirez, who put the ball straight in the path of the onrushing Ibarra, who struck for his second of the season and put the Loons ahead 3-1.
"Christian (Ramierz) and Miguel (Ibarra) have a great partnership and they were working well tonight," said United coach Manny Lagos. "Christian's goal was unbelievable, really a great strike at a moment when we were maybe a little down or wondering if we could pull the game off. It was an outstanding goal and it picked us up and reminded us we are a good soccer team. I am proud of him and our team tonight."
With the win, the Loons improved to 5-0-1 with 15 points, three points clear of the Strikers and the New York Cosmos. They will put their league lead on the line again next Saturday against the visiting Carolina Railhawks, while Fort Lauderdale will pick up the pieces against Tampa Bay in next week's Florida Derby.
FC Edmonton traveled to Toyota Field to take on San Antonio Scorpions. Following their heartbreaking midweek loss to Montreal Impact at the 2014 Amway Canadian Championship Semifinals and with the Eddies playing their third game in eight days, the teams drew 0-0 before 7,087 in attendance.
San Antonio dominated the match and put non-stop pressure on Edmonton's defense, but the 10-man Eddies proved up to the task as the Scorpions never found the final touch.
The game defining moment came in the 27th minute, when Edmonton's Mallan Roberts contacted Stephen DeRoux as he approached midfield. Referee Juan Guzman immediately reached for his back pocket to pull out a red card for Roberts.
With the Scorpions continuing offensive pressure throughout the match, throwing everything at the Eddies defense. Edmonton's back line and keeper were able to keep the clean sheet and a 0-0 draw after the 90 minute whistle.
"What a fantastic effort from our team tonight," said Eddies coach Colin Miller at full time. "I thought the guys were so brave and showed so much character and fight in this match. FC Edmonton will not be walked over."
Next week San Antonio will travel to Ottawa Fury FC and the Eddies will be back home to take on the Atlanta Silverbacks.
North American Soccer League 2014 Spring Season Week 5 Results
Saturday, May 17
Carolina RailHawks 2 Atlanta Silverbacks 0
Indy Eleven 2 Ottawa Fury FC 4
Tampa Bay Rowdies 0 New York Cosmos 3
Minnesota United FC 3 Fort Lauderdale Strikers 1
San Antonio Scorpions 0 FC Edmonton 0
The Championship Updated
With Week 6 matches in the books, the race for the Spring Champion has become clearer. Indy Eleven and FC Edmonton are eliminated from contention to win the Spring, but remain in the hunt for a spot in The Championship.
As a reminder, the NASL Spring Season 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 semifinal winners will compete in The Championship final.