There are six teams heading into the third week of North American Soccer League Fall Season action this weekend who all believe they can claim top spot in the standings. And two more clubs seeking their first win of the second half of the 2013 NASL campaign look to keep up with the pace as they meet on Saturday.
Goal difference keeps the defending 2012 champion Tampa Bay Rowdies in pole position for claiming the second berth in NASL Soccer Bowl 2013 and Ricky Hill’s side travel to face a Minnesota United FC team that is full of confidence having won 3-1 on the road in Fort Lauderdale last week.
"We had a nice road win and now we have to carry that momentum into this weekend,” said Minnesota coach Manny Lagos, whose side returns to the National Sports Center in Blaine, MN, at 8pm ET on Saturday. “We haven’t played great at home in the past couple months and so we have to take the field and embrace the challenge and face a strong Tampa Bay club.”
The weekend’s first action kicks off at 7pm ET when a new rivalry will be established. The side that missed out on winning the NASL Spring Season title by a single point, the Carolina RailHawks, welcomes the New York Cosmos to WakeMed Soccer Park for the first time. The teams have identical records having won their respective opening games of the fall season before both being held to a draw last week and have only conceded one goal each in two matches.
RailHawks leading scorer Brian Shriver will be eager to make amends for a missed penalty in a 1-1 draw away to Atlanta last week, while the Cosmos will look to convert chances into goals having hit everything but the back of the net away to Tampa Bay.
“Carolina is a very difficult team,” said Cosmos coach Giovanni Savarese. “They’re one of the best in the league and have proven very tough to beat. Nevertheless, we’re going to take this game, like all our games, as a final. We are preparing in every area of our team, not just one single focus, that will help us bring back three points to New York.”
The San Antonio Scorpions welcome the Fort Lauderdale Strikers to Toyota Field at 8.30pm ET on Saturday with both clubs searching for their first points of the season. Despite firing four goals at home on opening weekend and boasting the league-leading scorer in Hans Denissen, the Scorpions have lost twice, as have the Strikers under new head coach Gunter Kronsteiner.
“When you lose a few games in a row you start losing your confidence, but you just have to realize that the other team is not really better,” said Fort Lauderdale’s Austrian coach. “I’ve been around this game a long time so I tell them this (losing) happens in soccer sometimes. They have to leave it behind them and just move on; if you just win one your confidence will grow again and you can turn things around.”
Sunday again features NASL action as FC Edmonton enjoys a second straight home game, welcoming Spring Season champion Atlanta Silverbacks to Clarke Stadium, where the Eddies beat San Antonio 1-0 last week thanks to a goal from loan signing Corey Hertzog on his debut. The game kicks off at 4pm ET.
The hosts concede an average of less than a goal per game. The Silverbacks pose a dangerous threat on the road, having not lost away from home in league play since May 12 – when FC Edmonton handed them a 3-0 beating.
“We’re going up against one of the best defensive teams in the league,” said Atlanta coach Brian Haynes. “One of the things we’re going to need to do is stay compact defensively. The other thing is that when we get our opportunities, we need to take them. We lost there last time because we didn’t take our opportunities early.”
FC Edmonton coach Colin Miller, whose side is unbeaten in its last four games at home, added: “We are very excited to play the NASL Soccer Bowl finalists at home this Sunday. We give a lot of credit to Brian for what he’s done with Atlanta in such a short period of time. Atlanta play an exciting game and all the lads are ready for the upcoming test.”
Week 3 Schedule (All kickoff times US EST)
Saturday, August 17
Carolina RailHawks vs. New York Cosmos
WakeMed Soccer Park; Cary, N.C. 7:00 pm
Minnesota United FC vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies
NSC Stadium; Blaine, Minn. 8:00 pm
San Antonio Scorpions vs. Fort Lauderdale Strikers
Toyota Field; San Antonio, Tex. 8:30 pm
Sunday, August 18
FC Edmonton vs. Atlanta Silverbacks
Clarke Stadium; Edmonton, AB 4:00 pm
All games will be streamed live and can be watched via the NASL official website www.NASL.comand at each respective team website.
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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|