Minnesota United and the Tampa Bay Rowdies both won on the road in Week 4 of North American Soccer League action to join the Carolina RailHawks in a three-team tie at the top of the standings.
The RailHawks remain in pole position despite having a bye week and share an identical record with United – their opponents this coming Saturday, May 4, at the Hubert H Humphrey Metrodome in Minnesota in what promises to be a thrilling top of the table clash.
On Sunday FC Edmonton marked their first home game following a three-game road trip by edging the San Antonio Scorpions 1-0 for their first win of the season.
The Silverbacks entered the weekend as the only NASL team boasting a one hundred percent record, but fell at home 3-2 to Minnesota United and missed an opportunity to take a two-point lead at the top. The Rowdies bounced back from a home defeat last week to claim the Florida derby bragging rights with a 2-1 win away to the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, who currently prop up the table.
Atlanta Silverbacks 2 Minnesota United FC 3
Silverbacks Head Coach Brian Haynes named an unchanged side from the team’s 4-3 road win over the defending champion Rowdies last weekend and after United midfielder Miguel Ibarra had clipped the crossbar, Atlanta stole the lead with 17 minutes played. Silverbacks forward Pedro Mendes was hauled down just outside the penalty area and Milton Blanco rifled a shot into the far corner.
In the 23rd minute, a corner kick from Simone Bracallelo found the head of defender Brian Kallman, who powered the ball off the hands of Nasco to tie the game at 1-1. But three minutes later Ruben Luna’s header was handled in the penalty area and the home striker calmly slotted home the penalty to give the Silverbacks a 2-1 advantage.
Handballs would become a theme and this time following a Silverbacks misdemeanor, Bracalello fired a spot kick finish past a diving Nasco to even the score at 2-2 in with 53 minutes played.
The positive start to the second half continued for the visitors in the 61st minute when midfielder Aaron Pitchkolan finished a close-range effort following a melee in the Silverbacks penalty area. The Silverbacks dominated possession and created a number of opportunities in front of goal down the stretch, but lacked a finishing touch in the final third and Minnesota held on for a 3-2 win.
Fort Lauderdale Strikers 1 Tampa Bay Rowdies 2
The Tampa Bay Rowdies brought home three points from in-state rivals the Fort Lauderdale Strikers as goals from midfielders Luke Mulholland and Alex Dixon opened a 2-0 lead before a late Walter Restrepo goal gave the Strikers hope.
A late push by the Strikers almost found them the equalizer, but the Rowdies were solid defensively, picking up their second win this season.
“All credit to our team for their performance tonight,” said Rowdies Head Coach Ricky Hill. “We were able to stay concentrated the entire 90 minutes and come out of here with a win. Taking three points out of a derby is a big accomplishment and I feel we deserved them tonight.”
In the dying minutes of the first half, Mulholland scored his third goal of the season off a strike from outside the 18-yard box that was just out of the reach of Strikers goalkeeper Matt Glaeser. Mulholland's shot curled into the bottom left corner of the net, taking a bounce off the post before it hit the back of the net.
The goal shifted the momentum in Tampa Bay’s favor and substitute Dixon scored his first goal for the Rowdies in the 78th minute a low cross from the left flank by forward Georgi Hristov, which Dixon tapped in for the two-goal lead.
Fort Lauderdale reacted as second half substitute Restrepo made it 2-1 in the 80th minute, but the Rowdies held on and are now unbeaten in 12 of the last 13 meetings between the rivals, holding a 8-4-1 (W-T-L) record over the Strikers.
FC Edmonton 1 San Antonio Scorpions 0
FC Edmonton claimed their first win of the 2013 NASL Spring season, edging the San Antonio Scorpions 1-0 in the team's opening home game of the campaign on the back of a three-game road trip.
Shaun Saiko's penalty in the dying seconds of the first half proved decisive in earning the Eddies three points, keeping them in touch with the leading pack.
"We’ve played better this season and lost," said coach Colin Miller. "There’s such character in the team and I’m proud of them. We’ve created some good chances today but not as many as I’d like. I’m just pleased that all the fitness work we’ve put in has shown and that lady luck gave us a couple of breaks today.
"If we continue to play with the same attitude there’s so many positives, but I still expect more. The guys wanted to win so badly that it probably affected our performance a little bit. But we’re delighted with the three points today."
The break-through goal did not come until first half injury time when FCE defender Eddie Edward made a run off a deflected San Antonio corner and was brought down in the box. Saiko stepped up to take the spot kick and sent Par Hannigan the wrong way for the Eddies to take the lead 1-0.
"You’ve got to strike it with confidence and I feel like I’ve been playing well, so I wanted to take the penalty and make sure we got the three points today," explained Saiko. "You’ve just got to get the goalie going the other way and slot it to the other side."
The Scorpions thought they had drawn level in the 83rd minute, but the attempt was ruled offside with the ball in the net.
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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|