The Tampa Bay Rowdies claimed top spot in the standings in defense of their North American Soccer League championship after two games with a 2-0 win away to the San Antonio Scorpions.
The Rowdies now lead the Carolina RailHawks by virtue of a single goal difference after Colin Clarke’s side edged FC Edmonton 2-1 at a packed WakeMed Soccer Park. The teams played to a scoreless draw in Tampa last week.
San Antonio Scorpions 0 Tampa Bay Rowdies 2
A sellout crowd of 8,177 fans packed the new Toyota Field stadium in San Antonio for its grand opening saw Amani Walker put the Rowdies in front after only 12 minutes with an unopposed bullet header on the end of a Luke Mulholland corner. Then a penalty kick converted by Georgi Hristov made it 2-0 in the second half.
“Obviously we’re delighted to come away with three points,” said Rowdies coach Ricky Hill. “We were determined to come here and, without being disrespectful, spoil the party. It’s a fantastic arena and they’re fantastic supporters and I thought the atmosphere actually lifted our team tonight.
“Our goalkeeper Andrew Fontein waited patiently last year for his chance to play and didn’t get any minutes, and now has two games and two clean sheets, which is not a bad way to start”
Scorpions coach Tim Hankinson said: “We made two mistakes tonight. We didn’t clear a ball that turned into a corner and a goal, and then a breakdown, which led to the second goal.
“We created some good chances but out execution was poor. We have a lot of work to do to get on the same page as a team.”
Carolina RailHawks 2 FC Edmonton 1
A crowd of 5,033 in Carolina saw FC Edmonton impress early on before Austin De Luz broke the deadlock for the RailHawks after 51 minutes with a far post header on the end of a Ty Shipalane cross. Then 20 minutes later Brian Shriver lifted a stunning 20-yard free kick over the wall and beneath the cross bar to double the lead 20 minutes later.
The visiting Canadians threatened a dramatic comeback with an injury time goal from Massimo Mirabelli, but left it too late to recover.
“The first goal is always very important,” said RailHawks coach Colin Clarke. “They hit the post, but we got the first one and settled down and gained some confidence. We played some good football, passed the ball well, and its nice to get the first win tonight.
“If we are going to be successful we need our fans to be happy and we’ve put ourselves in a good spot and its so much easier for the players to play with the crowd behind us. We’re grateful for them coming out tonight and look forward to seeing them next week.”
It was rough justice on FC Edmonton who enjoyed the upper hand in the first half. After Michael Cox had seen a shot parried by opening weekend’s Player of the Week goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald, Daryl Fordyce rifled a shot against the foot of the upright with a quarter of an hour played and Cox also struck the woodwork.
Atlanta Silverbacks 2 Fort Lauderdale Strikers 0
In their 2013 season opener having had a bye on opening kickoff weekend, the Atlanta Silverbacks shut out the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, 2-0, Saturday night in front of 5,402 fans at Atlanta Silverbacks Park.
Both goals came inside the final minutes as Beto Navarro got on the end of a long throw in to steal the lead and then with the Strikers pushing for an equalizer, Danny Barrera side footed home a second Silverbacks goal on the counter attack.
“Fort Lauderdale had a chance to score tonight and my boys stopped them from scoring and hats off to them,” said Silverbacks coach Brian Haynes. “I’m so glad they got the win they deserved.
“It was nice to do it in front of a sellout crowd but our work has just begun now. It’s just one win that we have to build on.”
Strikers coach Daryl Shore said: “It looked like one of our players was fouled, but it’s inexcusable on our end to give up an 86th minute goal like that at the end.”
“We’ve got to do better in our attacking third. We had a couple of chances today but we didn’t put the ball in the net. You can’t win games if you don’t score goals.”
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|New York Cosmos||14||9||4||1||10||31|
|Tampa Bay Rowdies||14||5||5||4||3||20|
|Minnesota United FC||14||6||2||6||2||20|
|Fort Lauderdale Strikers||14||5||3||6||-2||18|
|San Antonio Scorpions||14||3||1||10||-9||10|
|San Antonio Scorpions||12||6||2||4||4||20|
|Tampa Bay Rowdies||12||5||3||4||5||18|
|Minnesota United FC||12||4||2||6||-5||14|
|Fort Lauderdale Strikers||12||2||2||8||-14||8|