Before the start of the 2013 Fall Season kickoff, NASL.com takes a look back at the spring campaign, which can be summarized by the words of Commissioner Bill Peterson who underlined in the first half of the campaign that “every match matters.”
His statement was underlined during the spring as the seven-team competition did not see its first elimination from the race to host NASL Soccer Bowl 2013 until Week 10 and the spring title was not decided until final whistle of the last match on July 4.
On that concluding day of Week 14, the Atlanta Silverbacks celebrated the Independence Day by capturing the NASL Spring Title and therefore earning to right to host the NASL Soccer Bowl 2013 on November 9, against the upcoming top team finisher of the Fall Season.
The three-way race for the Spring crown featured the Silverbacks, Carolina RailHawks and San Antonio Scorpions going down to the wire on the last day of the season.
The Silverbacks posted a 3-0 victory over host Minnesota United FC, however Atlanta needed to wait until the conclusion of the San Antonio-Carolina encounter (won by the Scorpions 2-0) to lift the spring trophy.
Atlanta closed out its storybook season that had them finishing last in 2012 to first this year, however the Silverbacks coach, Brian Haynes believes the journey is not over and there is more to accomplish going into the Fall Season.
“I’m not in the least bit satisfied right now,” said Haynes. “Yes, we won the first half, but as far as I’m concerned, we could have done much better. We look forward to improving on the things we didn’t do well last season.”
Unfinished business can be applied to the NASL Golden Boot race, for the league’s top scorer, as Scorpions Hans Denissen and Brian Shriver of RailHawks both have eight goals at the end of the Spring and will face-off during the Fall.
Dutchman Denissen scored six goals, including the last two against the RailHawks on July 4, during the Scorpion’s five-game winning streak to close out the Spring in a strong third-place at the NASL standings.
“Hans is scoring goals from a lot of different places,” said Scorpions coach Tim Hankinson. “He’s using all of his weapons right now, so we hope to see that continue in the Fall Season.”
Meanwhile, Shriver has been instrumental for the RailHawks in the Spring leading them to a near perfect record at home at WakeMed Soccer Park (5 wins, 1 draw, 0 losses) where he scored seven goals, including two in the come-from-behind victory against Minnesota United.
“He’s a goal scorer and he’s talented at putting the ball in the back of the net,” RailHawks coach Colin Clarke commented about Shriver.
However, there are players eager to capture the Golden Boot that trail Denissen and Shriver by three goals such as Georgi Hristov of the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Minnesota United FC’s Simone Bracalello.
Hristov has led the Rowdies to the best road ledger in the league winning four, drawing one and losing one, but Ricky Hill’s squad wants to improve on their record at home where they only won once during the Spring.
“At times we didn’t capitalize on our home-field advantage for whatever reason,” Hill explained. “Away from home, our record would support that we were as good as anyone, if not better than most. I was delighted with the overall level of play, but we need to get rid of the individual errors.”
Also wanting to continue strong going into the Fall campaign is Colin Miller’s FC Edmonton which ended as the best defensive team during in the Spring Season posting a league-best 1.00 GAA.
Meanwhile, despite a disappointing end to the first half of the year, the Fort Lauderdale Strikers have revamped their squad which includes a new coach Günter Kronsteiner of Austria just in time for the return an old NASL rival to open the Fall season, New York Cosmos.
After an absent of almost three decades, the Cosmos are back in the NASL and are looking forward to renew old rivalries and starting up new ones in the 2013 Fall Campaign.
“We are very excited to get this new venture going,” said Cosmos coach Giovanni Savarese. “The Cosmos have such a special history and it’s wonderful to be a part of their re-birth.”
With eight teams competing in 2013 to be followed the editions of Indy Eleven, Ottawa Fury FC, Virginia Cavalry FC in 2014, along with Jacksonville and Oklahoma City in 2015, the revamped NASL will be only the second-ever professional league in the history of United States Soccer to have as many active teams in only its fifth season.
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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|