Week 20 of NASL action was crucial for many teams. The RailHawks kept their sixth place standing in the league, holding off FC Edmonton for a 3-2 victory. With the win, Carolina added distance for the final playoff spot with 28 points, as Edmonton sits in seventh place with 21 points.
Ty Shipalane scored the game winner in the 91st minute, adding proof to the claim that he is the most exciting player in North America. The Independent Weekly took a good look at Shipalane’s role as the ultimate super sub. RailHawks fans can vote for Shipalane’s goal for NASL Play of the Week.
“[Burse] has proven that it’s his spot this year, but when I found out I was going to start, there was definitely excitement,” said Fitzgerald. “Of course there were nerves for my first league start, but as soon as that whistle blew I was ready and I enjoyed every minute of it.”
Greg Shields was also part of the starting lineup for only the second time in four months. Shields has spent this season balancing the role of a player and a coach, all while recovering from a spinal fusion last year.
In other league news, San Antonio clinched their spot in the playoffs with a 4-0 win over third place Tampa Bay. San Antonio is the first team to ensure their spot in the playoffs, shutting out the Rowdies with goals from Walter Ramirez, Esteban Bayona, and two from Pablo Campos, one being a penalty kick.
Campos’s two goals brought his season total to 18, just two goals short of last year’s NASL Golden Boot winner and RailHawks player Etienne Barbara. Campos’s goals garnered him the NASL Offensive Player of the Week.
On the other end of the field, Fort Lauderdale Striker Conor Shanosky was awarded NASL Defensive Player of the Week. Shanosky played an essential role in the Strikers’ 0-0 draw at Puerto Rico, their fifth shutout of the season (highlights here).
In the fourth game of the weekend, the Atlanta Silverbacks pulled out a draw against Minnesota Stars FC under their new head coach Brian Haynes.
The Silverbacks played a man down for the last 30 minutes of the game, as Ciaran O’Brien picked up a yellow card, then an immediate red. The Silverbacks almost won in dramatic fashion in stoppage time, but Borfor Carr’s long-range shot went just wide of the goal (highlights here).
Minnesota was not pleased with the results, as they have gone winless since July 12.
All the highlights from the past week’s games can be found on the NASL Weekly Rewind. The MLS Reserves, Soccer By Ives and Inside Minnesota Soccer all give their take on the action in the past week as well.
Looking into next week, the RailHawks travel down to Atlanta for their fourth and final matchup of the regular season. The RailHawks have the advantage in the series, with two wins and a tie.
San Antonio travels to Fort Lauderdale this weekend after adding Ruben Luna to their roster. The Scorpions acquired Luna from MLS team FC Dallas to provide depth at forward in preparation for NASL playoffs.
The Rowdies and Stars have also each added a player to their roster, as all the teams make adjustments to finish out the season.
Tampa Bay hosts Puerto Rico in a battle for second place in the league. The teams are tied with 35 points, with Puerto Rico taking the advantage in goal differential. And FC Edmonton visits Minnesota in an effort to stay in the run for playoffs.
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|Tampa Bay Rowdies||6||3||2||1||3||11|
|Minnesota United FC||6||2||2||2||1||8|
|San Antonio Scorpions||6||1||2||3||-4||5|
|Fort Lauderdale Strikers||6||1||1||4||-6||4|