By David Katz/NYCosmos.com
(MIAMI, Fla. April 3, 2013) – Three days from now... the race to host Soccer Bowl 2013 will beginas six teams kick off the 2013 spring season on Saturday, April 6. The NASL clubs have seen traditional preseason action against a host of collegiate, semi-pro, and pro teams. Their lineups have included trialists, reserves, first team players, and new arrivals but the games are nonetheless important tune-ups for the new campaign.
Tampa Bay Rowdies
Reigning NASL champion Tampa Bay had a very busy preseason schedule. The Rowdies participated in the Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic against multiple MLS teams and also initiated the I-4 Derby, a home-and-home series against in-state rival Orlando City Soccer Club.
In the end, the Rowdies finished their 10-game preseason with a 4-6 record, with wins over the University of South Florida (1-0), Eckerd College (5-0), The University of Tampa (3-1) and Saint Leo University (2-1). The losses came in the matchups against MLS sides DC United (0-4), Montreal Impact (1-4) and Sporting Kansas City (0-1), as well as USL Pro’s Orlando City.
The Rowdies start their NASL season with at home to the Carolina RailHawks at Al Lang Stadium at 7.30pm on Saturday.
Minnesota United FC
The club formerly known as the Minnesota Stars had an eventful offseason. After signing a host of new players with extensive NASL experience, MNUFC went to Toyota Park and battled to a 1-0 away win against the Chicago Fire with Miguel Ibarra getting the lone goal.
United also prepped for the season with wins against Bridges FC (3-0), Creighton University (4-0), and Hastings College (2-1), draws with Bridges FC (0-0), University of Nebraska at Omaha (0-0), and losses at Sporting Kansas City (2-1) and UMI-Kansas City (2-1).
The new-look club ended the preseason with a record of 4-2-2. They begin 2013 NASL play at home against the San Antonio Scorpions at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome at 9pm on Saturday.
Fort Lauderdale Strikers
The Strikers began their preseason by hosting Swedish side and UEFA Europa League qualifier BK Hakken behind closed doors and participated in six more preseason matches, including wins over Florida International University (1-0), the Copa Latino All Stars (3-0), Florida Gulf Coast U (1-0), Barry University (5-0), Nova University (5-0), and Florida Atlantic University (3-0).
New York Cosmos loanee Stefan Dimitrov has been in fine form for the Strikers, scoring six goals in the preseason, including a hat trick against Nova U.
The Strikers open the Spring Season at home against FC Edmonton at Lockhart Stadium at 7.30pm.
Under new manager Colin Miller, FC Edmonton kicked off its preseason with a 3-1 win over the University of Alberta, followed by a 4-2 loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps. Edmonton then thrashed Abottsford Selects 6-0 and picked up a draw against the university of British Columbia.
The Eddies capped off their preseason campaign with a 4-0 win over Gonzaga.
FC Edmonton opens their season away to Fort Lauderdale and remains on the road for two more weeks before a home opener against the San Antonio Scorpions on April 28.
On Feb. 24, the RailHawks hosted the Fifth Annual Hilton Garden Inn Durham Southpoint Community Shield to kickoff the preseason, finishing with two wins over Duke and Richmond Kickers, and one loss to Vancouver Whitecaps.
The RailHawks preseason schedule featured seven other matches, including their marquee friendly against Pumas UNAM of Mexico. In front of a record crowd of 8,054 at WakeMed Soccer Park, Carolina played an exciting back-and-forth match against Pumas before eventually losing 2-1.
Notable preseason results for Carolina include a victory over Wake Forest University (2-0), and losses against Charleston Battery (2-1), and Pumas UNAM (2-1). The RailHawks also played to draws against the Vancouver Whitecaps (0-0) and the University of Carolina Wilmington (3-3).
The RailHawks’ first home game of the season is against FC Edmonton on April 13 following a trip to Tampa Bay to open the campaign this Saturday at 7.30pm.
A Silverbacks team composed entirely of trialists posted a clean sheet in their first action of the preseason, topping the University of North Georgia Nighthawks (5-0).
The Silverbacks followed up that performance with a 2-0 win over Georgia State University. Atlanta also came out victorious over the University of Alabama-Birmingham and the Silverbacks’ final result of the preseason was a 3-0 win over the Charlotte Eagles of the USL Pro Division.
Brian Haynes’ team has a bye for the first weekend of the NASL Spring Season then is at home to Fort Lauderdale on April 13.
San Antonio Scorpions
The San Antonio Scorpions had a busy player movement offseason losing top scorer Pablo Campos to Minnesota United FC, but bringing in a wide range of talent including MLS veterans Bryan Jordan and Pat Phelan.
During a short preseason campaign, the Scorpions won three friendly matches, beating the University of Incarnate Word (2-0), St. Edwards University (2-1) and Houston Hurricanes, formerly known as the Galveston Pirates (4-0).
The Scorpions open their brand new stadium, Toyota Park, on April 13 against the Tampa Bay Rowdies, but first travel to Minnesota United on Saturday, April 6.
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