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NASL Roundup: Staggering Implications! etc., etc.

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Three ties in four matches means a week of status quo in the USA's second division

The NASL in a single photo: Pat Phelan surrounded by 10 Rowdies in a goal-mouth scrum.
The NASL in a single photo: Pat Phelan surrounded by 10 Rowdies in a goal-mouth scrum.
courtesy soccerbyives.net

When last we met, the Carolina RailHawks were suffering their first loss, the San Antonio Scorpions were losing their fifth in a row, the Tampa Bay Rowdies were drawing an opponent for the fourth time in five weeks, and the New York Cosmos were proving that the super-club of the 70s really was a "once in a lifetime" collection of talent.
We also looked ahead to a weekend of titanic match-ups, four fixtures so portentous that this very recap was delayed for four days while the Hot Time brain trust fully considered the staggering implications of the
results.

And what were those results? Glad you asked! Read on for scores, analysis, and staggering implications....

New York Cosmos 1 - 1 Atlanta Silverbacks

Despite the fact that the most prodigious goal-scorer in the Cosmos organization is their Director of Soccer (Manchester United legend Eric Cantona), New York managed to put nine shots on frame Saturday night at Hofstra Stadium. Unfortunately for the Cosmos, Joe Nasco was in that frame, and the Silverbacks netminder racked up eight saves--including a point-blank double-rejection of Japanese youngster Satoru Kashiwase in the
76th minute--to earn a share of NASL's Player of the Week honors. Only the previous Player of the Week, longtime Villarreal midfielder Marcos Senna, managed to beat Nasco, scoring on a stuttering penalty kick in the closing
minutes of first-half regulation, his second goal in as many matches.

Atlanta defender Shane Moroney headed home the equalizer in the 49thminute when a Pablo Cruz free kick found him unmarked in front of net. New York threw numbers forward late in the second half, but Nasco's heroics preserved the point and kept the Spring Champions within striking distance of the Cosmos for second place despite a five-match winless streak.

So what about Chicago's Homegrown Player?

Q. Did Kellen Gulley play?

A. No.

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

A. No.

It may interest the Fire faithful that, at nineteen years old, Gulley is the youngest player on the Silverbacks roster. The oldest? Thirty-five year old Andy Herrón.

Minnesota United FC 1 - 1 FC Edmonton

Only a single point separated Minnesota and Edmonton when the two sides met at NSC Stadium Saturday evening, and a single point would be all either team would leave with after a generally uneventful match.

MLS journeyman Siniša Ubiparipović entered the game in the 60th minute and exited in the 61st after Canadian referee Geoff Gamble showed him straight red for intentionally kicking Edmonton's Chris Nurse in the ribs during a scuffle for possession. (Incidentally, Gamble also refereed another recent uneventful 1-1 draw featuring a team from the Great White North: the Fire's midweek match against Toronto FC.)

Despite being down a man, the Loons scored first. In the 76th minute, after Calum Mallace played a short corner to Miguel Ibarra, Edmonton goalkeeper Lance Parker rushed out to punch away Ibarra's cross, but Christian Dias got to the ball first and redirected it into the vacant net. The home crowd barely had time to set off celebratory smoke bombs before Whitecaps loanee Corey Hertzog equalized for Edmonton just one minute later, beating a scrambling Matt Van Oekel to a cross and finishing from close range.

Hertzog's goal, his second in five appearances since going on loan, was assisted by Antonio Rago, who skinned Dias down the right flank on an overlapping run and whipped the ball across the goal mouth. The match ended level, and the Brazilian Dias went from hero to goat in a fashion native Minnesotan Charles Shultz would surely have appreciated.

This match report has been brought to you by the letter F, the letter C, and the number 1.

Tampa Bay Rowdies 3 - 2 Carolina RailHawks

Before recounting the events of this thrilling showdown, let us first pledge not to resort to any cheap puns involving the word "rowdy." With that guarantee in place, we continue:

After losing to the Strikers in Fort Lauderdale last week, the RailHawks made the trip to St. Petersburg to face the undefeated Rowdies with top position on the table at stake. The two sides put on a wild show for more than three thousand rambunctious Tampa Bay fans, and a pair of Chicago Fire 2102 draft picks that went unsigned contributed to the Rowdies' last-gasp victory.

Evans Frimpong scored his second goal of the fall season in the 42nd minute, a sliding volley to cap a strong run into the box. After the goal, the former supplemental pick hurdled the barrier and celebrated in front of the boisterous Tampa supporters. Then, with the score even two minutes into second-half stoppage time, Lucky Mkosana dribbled into the box for a shot that Carolina centerback Paul Hamilton turned into his own net. It was Mkosana's first appearance for the Rowdies since arriving on loan from the USL-Pro Harrisburg City Islanders, where he scored thirteen goals in twenty-five appearances, two shy of Golden Boot winner Dom Dwyer's total. The own goal sealed three points for the Rowdies and touched off frenzied celebration in the unruly Al Lang Stadium stands. In the jubilant aftermath, Mkosana stripped off his jersey and was issued a caution by referee Jorge Gonzales.

Another 2012 MLS draft pick, Real Salt Lake first-rounder Enzo Martinez, started for Carolina and had a hand in both RailHawks goals, setting up Tiyi Shipalane for the match opener and scoring himself in the 64th minute. Bulgarian Rowdies sharpshooter Georgi Hristov also netted in his second straight game.

The staggering implications of this particular match seem clear--the Chicago Fire have a fine eye for second-division talent. It's almost enough to make the Hot Time brain trust wonder if, perhaps, the Men in Red wouldn't have been better off keeping Frimpong and Mkosana instead of signing Sherjill MacDonald and claiming Maicon Santos in the re-entry draft. Of course, lower-division success doesn't necessarily translate into success at the MLS level; just ask the Seattle Sounders.

Fort Lauderdale Strikers 0 - 0 San Antonio Scorpions

When we called the week six match-ups "titanic," we were employing a bit of harmless hyperbole. Truthfully, there was nothing titanic about the scoreless draw played out between the Scorpions and Strikers. For one thing, nobody came out of this match feeling like the king of the world, certainly not Jamaican defender Stephen DeRoux, who showered early after being booked for a clumsy challenge on Walter Restrepo in the 63rd minute.

DeRoux's red card marked the third consecutive game for San Antonio to play a man down after a sending off, and it goes without saying exactly what the implication of that terrible statistic is. Still, the result was an improvement for San Antonio, who finally managed their first point of the NASL schedule's second half. Fort Lauderdale could have claimed sole possession of first place had they beaten the winless Scorpions. As thing stand, the draw moves them level with Carolina and Tampa Bay on ten points, but goal differential leaves the Strikers in third.

Whenever a match ends without any goals being scored, the men between the pipes deserve some credit, and U-20 World Cup Golden Glove winner Richard Sánchez handled his chances flawlessly in posting Fort Lauderdale's second straight shutout. For the Scorpions and Patrick Hannigan, it was their first time keeping an opponent off the score sheet since beating the RailHawks 2-0 on Independence Day.

NASL Standings

Team

GP

W

T

L

Points

Tampa Bay Rowdies

6

2

4

0

10

Carolina RailHawks

6

3

1

2

10

Fort Lauderdale Strikers

6

3

1

2

10

New York Cosmos

6

2

3

1

9

Minnesota United FC

6

2

2

2

8

Atlanta Silverbacks

6

1

4

1

7

FC Edmonton

6

1

4

1

7

San Antonio Scorpions

6

0

1

5

1


Upcoming NASL Matches

Saturday, September 14, 2013

  • Tampa Bay Rowdies at Carolina RailHawks (6:00 p.m. CDT)
  • Minnesota United FC at New York Cosmos (6:00 p.m. CDT)
  • San Antonio Scorpions at Atlanta Silverbacks (6:30 p.m. CDT)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

  • Fort Lauderdale Strikers at FC Edmonton (3:00 p.m. CDT)

Remember, all NASL matches are streamed live via Ustream on the league website. You can also catch full replays of previous matches (which, as it happens, comes in handy when writing match reports of NASL action.)
Tune in next week, football fans! Same Hot Time! Same Hot Channel!

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