NASL Roundup: Baby Steps Pay Off in Week Eight!

Kellen Gulley: Proof that Dr. Marvin's "baby-step" approach works! - Douglas C. Pizac-USA Today Sport

Gulley plays! San Antonio Wins! Pelé talks!

After taking an extra-long weekend to shake off the after-effects of Saturday evening's debacle in Columbus, the Hot Time brain trust is once again upright and sober, ready to deliver the top-shelf coverage of America's second division our audience demands!

Last Time on NASL Roundup....

The Neo-New York Cosmos found themselves in a position frequently occupied by the Paleo-Cosmos of the Late Carter Era.

Fort Lauderdale Strikers goalkeeper Richard Sánchez came seven minutes shy of breaking Real Salt Lake backup Jeff Atinella's league shutout streak.

Evans Frimpong scored on a stunning one-touch finish from just inside the eighteen-yard box in the Tampa Bay Rowdies' draw against the Carolina RailHawks.

Fire Homegrown Player Kellen Gulley made a baby step toward a meaningful contribution to his loan club, and the San Antonio Scorpions lost another match.

The Cleveland Browns should never have drafted Tim Couch (although, truthfully, drafting Akili Smith wouldn't have worked out any better.)

Tampa Bay Rowdies 3 - 1 Atlanta Silverbacks

Despite handily defeating the Spring Champions to remain unbeaten, Tampa Bay wasn't able to overtake the Cosmos for the league lead, but the Rowdies made a strong case that--standings aside--they are the best team in the NASL. Former Lokomotiv Sofia striker and Megadeth fan Georgi Hristov scored in the 54th and 57th minutes, and London-born midfielder Shane Hill stretched Tampa's lead with a 35-yard bomb in the 65th minute. The Silverbacks did claw back a goal fifteen minutes before the end of regulation, but Atlanta's desperate late efforts weren't enough to beat Diego Restrepo.

Blah, blah, blah. Nice for that Bulgarian guy and all, but how about our kid?

Q. Did Kellen Gulley play?

A. Yes!

Q. Seriously?

A. Yes! Gulley got into the match as a substitute for Ruben Luna around the time that Hristov was completing his double. It was the Fire Homegrown Player's first appearance for the Silverbacks since August 18.

Q. How did Kellen Gulley look?

A. Well, the Ustream match feed was spotty, but from the match audio it sounded like he didn't trip over himself or boot the ball into the stands. Let's just assume Kellen logged a competent but unremarkable thirty-three minutes. With a little more seasoning, he'll be watching Maicon Santos and Chris Rolfe from the sidelines of an MLS reserve match.

Fort Lauderdale Strikers 0 - 2 New York Cosmos

We'll forgo our usual good-natured mockery of the Cosmos' pretension in order to congratulate the club on a four-game unbeaten streak and two consecutive weeks at the top of table. The New York hipsters who pledged their undying allegiance to this facsimile of a storied franchise before it had even played a meaningful match* must feel vindicated. After all, who needs Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill when you've got Pelé? Not the aging legend of 1975, but the septuagenarian pitchman who holds the title of Honorary Cosmos President. Pelé was in fine form in Week Eight, chatting up the South Florida media about the importance of the rivalry between the Strikers and the Cosmos. On the field, Venezuelan striker Diomar Díaz was also in fine form, scoring a brace and earning NASL Player of the Week honors. New York's other aged Brazilian, Marcos Senna, did not score or offer any nostalgic sound bites. New York's commanding victory sets up a Sunday showdown with the undefeated Rowdies at Hofstra Stadium with first place on the line.

Okay, we did end up engaging in some good-natured mockery of the Cosmos' pretension. Maybe next week we'll be able to resist.

*No, the Paul Scholes testimonial doesn't count.

San Antonio Scorpions 2 - 1 Carolina RailHawks

Last week, the brain trust, encouraged by the fact that they managed to finish the match with all eleven players, advised San Antonio to keep taking baby steps toward success. The Scorpions embraced our sage counsel, and this week they set a small, reasonable goal: beat the Carolina RailHawks and earn three points for the first time in eighty-six days. They accomplished this task by scoring one reasonable goal in the 53rd minute and one dramatic stoppage-time goal just before the final whistle. Moments after the end of regulation, Carolina's Brian Ackley handled the ball while scrambling to his feet in the box, and referee Storin Stoica awarded the penalty kick. San Antonio's striker Hans Denissen finished the spot kick smartly, taking a few baby steps in the run-up and sending RailHawks ‘keeper Akira Fitzgerald the wrong way. The Dutchman's goals secured the Scorpions' first three points of the fall campaign and gave him the lead for the combined-season Golden Boot award. After starting the fall side of the split season with three straight wins, Carolina is now winless in four matches.

FC Edmonton 1 - 2 Minnesota United FC

Although we didn't manage to keep our word about mocking the Cosmos, the Hot Time brain trust actually means to keep the sarcasm in check for the recap of Sunday's match between Edmonton and Minnesota. Frankly, we're running low on clever insults of phony European nicknames and unimaginative team branding. The most notable aspect of the Loons' 2-1 victory over the Eddies was the fact that Minnesota changed formations, running out in the 4-3-3 instead of Loons manager Manny Lagos's standard two banks of four. Montreal Impact draft choice Calum Mallace started at centerback instead of his usual midfield spot alongside former Man in Red Floyd Franks, and the move to defense paid off. Mallace scored the match's opening goal while Italian attacker Simone Bracalello, who had started previous games on the bench, scored the game-winner for Minnesota. Northern Ireland's Daryl Fordyce scored Edmonton's consolation goal in injury time. The win moves Minnesota ahead of Atlanta and Fort Lauderdale into fourth place. Edmonton remains mired in seventh.

NASL Standings

Team

GP

W

T

L

Points

New York Cosmos

8

4

3

1

15

Tampa Bay Rowdies

8

3

5

0

14

Carolina RailHawks

8

3

2

3

11

Minnesota United FC

8

3

2

3

11

Fort Lauderdale Strikers

8

3

2

3

11

Atlanta Silverbacks

8

2

4

2

10

FC Edmonton

8

1

5

2

8

San Antonio Scorpions

8

1

1

6

4

Upcoming NASL Matches

Saturday, September 28, 2013

  • Minnesota United FC vs. San Antonio Scorpions (2:30 p.m. CDT)
  • Carolina RailHawks vs. Fort Lauderdale Strikers (6:00 p.m. CDT)
  • Atlanta Silverbacks vs. FC Edmonton (6:30 p.m. CDT)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

  • New York Cosmos vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies (4:00 p.m. CDT)

Remember that free streams of NASL games are available on the league website! If you have some time to kill Sunday afternoon, the Hot Time brain trust recommends you check in on the Rowdies and Cosmos match. Even Pelé will be watching that one.

Be here next week, Fire fans! Same Hot Time! Same Hot Channel!

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