Wednesday, July 25, 2012

NASL Recap: Week 16


Article by Doak Gips


After last weeks news extravaganza, we actually got to (mostly) just enjoy the games this week and get down to work on who will start getting a hold on their spots and most teams begin their push to the playoffs. The top 6 teams in the table get into the playoffs, with only the bottom two feeling all sad and lonely. So far, those two teams would be FC Edmonton and the Atlanta Silverbacks, with the Silverbacks winning as many games as the San Antonio Scorpions have lost all year. The Silverbacks have though been trending upward since former US international Eric Wynalda took over the coaching duties though, but could they keep it going this week? Read on and find out.

Fort Lauderdale Strikers vs. Minnesota Stars FC

In a midweek battle of two teams who are consistently content with being inconsistently average, the Strikers came out on top 2-1 against the Minnesota Stars in front of a crowd of 4,034 at NSC Stadium. Strikers midfielder Mark Anderson put two in the back of the net for the Strikers, winning them the game, and NASL player of the week honors. His first goal came on a counter, as he received the ball at the top of the 18 from Andy Herron, stutter-stepped as his defender tripped, and slotted it cleanly past Stars 'keeper Matthew VanOekel. Anderson's second goal came less than 10 minutes later, when in the 42nd minute, he kicked the ball as hard as he possibly could, which ended up being a beauty of a shot into the top left corner that put the Strikers up 2-0 before halftime. The Stars came out with their serious face on though in the second half, as Simone Bracalello received a pass from Martin Nunez inside the penalty box and was able to send it across his body and out of reach of the outstretched hands of Strikers 'keeper Matt Glaeser. The Stars put another behind Glaeser in the 68th minute, but Martin Nunez was called offside on the free kick from about 25 yards out. The Stars managed 8 shots in the second half, but only found the goal once as the Strikers took the win.


FC Edmonton vs Atlanta Silverbacks

The two teams who are currently on the outside looking in at the NASL playoff race faced off, with the Eddies coming ahead 2-1 against the Silverbacks at Atlanta Silverbacks Park, with a reported 0 people in attendance, which is clearly wrong because I still have full use of my eyes, and can clearly see that people did indeed watch this game. Poking fun aside, the Silverbacks have been trending upward, averaging around 4,700 a game, and were on 2 game winning streak coming into this game. That doesn't matter to Shaun Saiko, who after a nice run into the box tapped the ball to a waiting Serisay Barthelemy, who whipped around and sent it off the post and in past Silverbacks 'keeper Joe Nasco. The second goal though, was a bad, bad, bad, bad, horrible giveaway from Nasco, who when trying to clear the ball, kicked it right at Eddies forward Yashir Pinto, who tapped it into the open goal. Edmonton tried to give it back to the Silverbacks, as Eddies defender Jonathan Jo-Augustin completely destroyed Matt Horth on a clear goal scoring opportunity in the box, and was issued an immediate red card. Ciaran O'Brien converted the PK to make the game 2-1, but that's all the Silverbacks could muster.

Puerto Rico Islanders vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies

In the battle for 2nd place, the Rowdies came out on top of the Islanders 2-0, with 3,207 in attendance at Al Lang Stadium. While both teams totaled 18 shots in the first half, neither one could find the back of the net. It took until the 72nd minute, when a nice over the top ball from Mike Ambersley found  a streaking Frankie Sanfilippo at the back post, who was able to finally put the first ball past Islanders 'keeper Richard Martin. The second goal was done by Ambersley himself, who received a serious long ball from Fafa Picault, as he chipped a charging Martin, and placed it right into the back of the net. It should known that Martin withstood a barrage from the Rowdies, as they amassed a total of 24 shots, as the Islanders defense took a pounding on the night. The Islanders were able to muster a respectable 10 shots, but could not get any past Rowdies 'keeper Jeff Antinella, and the Rowdies defense.

Minnesota Stars FC vs. Carolina Railhawks

Pretty bad week for the Stars huh? First a 2-1 home loss midweek to the Rowdies, and on the weekend a 1-0 road loss to the Carolina Railhawks at WakeMed Soccer Park with 3,158 fans cheering against them. The Railhawks needed less than 10 minutes to put the game away, as they scored what would be the game winner in the 10th minute of the game. The play started from the back when Brian Shriver dispossessed Stars mid Lucas Rodriguez, who then played a one-two game with Breiner Ortiz, who then took it up the field himself, found a streaking Mike Palacio behind the defense, who played a nice ball back to the center for the tap in goal from Zack Schilawski. The Stars best chance to tie came in the 64th minute, as a nice through ball found the feet of Stars forward Geison Moura, who was left alone at the edge of the box, but could not get the ball on frame. A four hour rain delay saw this match end after 1AM, which tested the players, referees and coaches. The Railhawks with the win, and a Strikers loss to San Antonio, would move the Railhawks into fifth place. 


Fort Lauderdale Strikers vs. San Antonio Scorpions

...Which is exactly what happened at Heroes Stadium on Saturday, as the Scorpions beat the Strikers 1-0 with 10,584 in attendance. The win gave the Scorpions a two point advantage in the NASL standings over the Rowdies, and the loss moved the Strikers down into a point tie with the Railhawks, but losing out on goal differential. The Scorpions only goal came from the NASL leading goal scorer Pablo Campos in the 57th minute, as Campos quickly changed speed a slight change of direction to completely burn his defender, and send one home behind Strikers 'keeper Matt Glaeser. Not only did they get the win on the night, the Scorpions have also signed all-time MLS goal-scorer Jeff Cunningham. The only slight problem we here at the MLS Reserves had seen with the Scorpions, was their scoring could be suspect at some small times. This probably won't be the case anymore. The Scorpions clearly want to be NASL champs in year one, and they honestly have the pieces to do it.


This coming week Fort Lauderdale takes on Atlanta on Friday night, while the Saturday games round out with Puerto Rico taking on Minnesota, Tampa Bay going up against Edmonton, and San Antonio facing Carolina.

Here are your updated standings.


TEAM
GP
W
T
L
GD
PTS
San Antonio Scorpions
17
9
5
3
10
32
Tampa Bay Rowdies
18
9
3
6
4
30
Puerto Rico Islanders
18
8
4
6
5
28
Minnesota Stars FC
18
7
5
6
1
26
Carolina RailHawks
17
6
6
5
3
24
Fort Lauderdale Strikers
19
6
6
7
-4
24
FC Edmonton
17
4
4
9
-4
16
Atlanta Silverbacks
18
3
5
10
-15
14


Questions? Comments? Concerns? Find me on twitter @DoakGips.

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