NASL Roundup: In the Throes of the Shutdown Part I!

Haven't the Fire been looking for a Polish star? - Andy Marlin

After a week's hiatus, the Roundup returns!

For those wondering why the NASL Roundup was not posted last week, there is a simple explanation:

Due to congress's failure to pass legislation to fund the government, the Hot Time brain trust has been partially furloughed. Our gag writers and copy editors have been placed on unpaid leave until the federal budget is sorted out, and the shutdown may result in infrequent updates and truncated reports.

Despite this unprecedented setback, the NASL Roundup soldiers on, albeit less humorously and with uncorrected grammatical errors!

Format Changes

Because we're catching up with two weeks of second-division action, this edition of the Roundup will be organized a little differently. Instead of recapping individual matches in the order of kickoff, we'll address each club according to the league standings, from last to first. This post will cover the bottom half of the table, and we'll tackle the top four teams in a separate column tomorrow.

San Antonio Scorpions

After losing five straight matches to start the Fall Season, the last-place Scorpions have begun to find their form. Part of the improvement can be traced to Dutch striker Hans Denissen's resurgent form and the steadying influence of former Toronto reservist Logan Emory on the back line. Avoiding red cards--something they were unable to manage for most of August and early September--has also helped. So how have they fared over the last two weekends?

September 28: Minnesota United FC 1 - 0 San Antonio Scorpions

October 5: San Antonio Scorpions 1 - 0 Atlanta Silverbacks

The win over Atlanta gave the Scorpions seven points out of their last five matches, a significant improvement from the zero points they collected from the first five. Philadelphia native Jeremy Vuolo has supplanted Patrick Hannigan in goal, and his performance against the Silverbacks was San Antonio's second clean sheet of the fall campaign. Polish forward Tomasz Zahorski was responsible for the lone goal against Atlanta, maintaining a blistering scoring pace since coming to the NASL from Górnik Zabraze of the Polish Ekstraklasa. In ten fall-season fixtures, Zahorski has scored seven goals, including a brace against the Rowdies in the August opener and goals in three straight matches against New York, Fort Lauderdale, and the Scorpions' first meeting with Minnesota. Despite the Polish sharpshooter's heroics, San Antonio remains at the bottom of the table with seven points. Their next match is at home against FC Edmonton.

FC Edmonton

Not much better than San Antonio, the Eddies haven't taken three points out of a match since the third week of August, at one point settling for a draw in five consecutive matches.

September 28: Atlanta Silverbacks 1 - 0 FC Edmonton

October 6: FC Edmonton 2 - 1 Carolina RailHawks

The loss to Atlanta was an ugly affair, with Romanian official Sorin Stoica issuing cards to seven different players, including a straight red to Silverbacks midfielder Daniel Barrera. The deciding play occurred in the 14th minute, when Antonio Rago tripped Pablo Cruz in the penalty area and Pedro Mendes finished from the spot. Edmonton's subsequent win over the suddenly faltering RailHawks came courtesy of a Daryl Fordyce brace. The Northern Irish striker scored on both sides of halftime to keep the Eddies four points clear of the last-place Scorpions, whom they will meet next Sunday in San Antonio.

Atlanta Silverbacks

Atlanta finished atop the Spring Season table, booking their place in the 2013 Soccer Bowl, but the Silverbacks haven't been on their best form in the fall. Although they've dropped winnable matches, Atlanta's thirteen points have them just a point out of the second-place logjam.

September 28: Atlanta Silverbacks 1 - 0 FC Edmonton

October 5: San Antonio Scorpions 1 - 0 Atlanta Silverbacks

Since both of these matches have already been reviewed, let's move along to the routine questions:

Q. Did Kellen Gulley play in either match?

A. No.

Q. Did Kellen Gulley make the game-day eighteen in either match?

A. Yes! Actually, the Clinton, Mississippi, native dressed for both fixtures. That makes four straight games that Kellen has made the bench.

Despite the fact that he's only seen thirty-three minutes on the pitch, our Homegrown Player seems to be making some progress. Perhaps if Javier Leon can furlough Maicon Santos as a non-essential employee....

Atlanta will welcome Minnesota United FC to Silverbacks Park on Saturday, October 12.

Fort Lauderdale Strikers

The Strikers may be misnamed: No club has scored fewer goals than Fort Lauderdale in 2013. They found the net just ten times in the Spring Season, finishing with a staggering -14 goal differential. Although the Strikers are tied with Edmonton and Atlanta for the lowest goal total in the fall campaign, their current tally of nine goals nearly matches their entire first-half offensive output. Going into the last week of September, Fort Lauderdale had been held scoreless twice and scored more than a single goal in a match only once, but their woeful attack was partially offset by Mexican U-20 international Richard Sánchez's brilliance in the net.

September 28: Carolina RailHawks 2 - 0 Fort Lauderdale Strikers

October 5: Fort Lauderdale Strikers 2 - 1 Tampa Bay Rowdies

The shutout in North Carolina meant that the Strikers mustered one goal in the month of September, and it marked the second consecutive match in which Sánchez and the Fort Lauderdale defense conceded twice. The surprising victory over their Sunshine State rival was made even more surprising by the fact that the Strikers controlled the run of play, putting seven shots on Diego Restrepo's goal. In constrast, the Rowdies, a team averaging better than two goals per match, only forced Sánchez into two saves before collecting a 94th-minute consolation score. The derby victory lifted Fort Lauderdale into a tie with Minnesota, Carolina, and Tampa with thirteen points, but their -3 goal differential leaves them in fifth place. Next week the Strikers travel to Tampa and the Rowdies play host in Florida Derby rematch.

NASL Standings

Team

GP

W

T

L

Points

New York Cosmos

10

6

3

1

21

Tampa Bay Rowdies

10

3

5

2

14

Carolina RailHawks

10

4

2

4

14

Minnesota United FC

10

4

2

4

14

Fort Lauderdale Strikers

10

4

2

4

14

Atlanta Silverbacks

10

3

4

3

13

FC Edmonton

10

2

5

3

11

San Antonio Scorpions

10

2

1

7

7

That’s it for the bottom of the NASL table. Check back tomorrow for reports on Minnesota United FC, the Carolina RailHawks, the Tampa Bay Rowdies, and the New York Cosmos.

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