Tuesday, July 17, 2012

NASL Week 15 Recap


Article by Doak Gips


Storylines, storylines everywhere! Where do I start? We could start with the standings of the NASL, in which the top four teams are all separated one point each? We could talk about the resurgence of the Atlanta Silverbacks, who, despite having a whopping -14 goal differential, have moved out of the cellar and have pushed Edmonton down into the bottom. How about how San Antonio hasn't looked quite so invincible this past week, losing one, and needing a late equalizer to salvage a road point. I feel like I'm missing something though. Oh. Right. The New York Cosmos are joining the NASL, and beginning play in 2013. I'm not sure even where to start with this news.

For the clueless, which you probably aren't if you're reading this, the Cosmos were the powerhouse team of the first incarnation of the NASL. With the likes of Pele and Giorgio Chinaglia, the Cosmos were the brand and face of the league. The name itself will likely raise the stature of the NASL to a completely different level next season, with increased media presence and a higher level of competition. The Cosmos most certainly have their eye on MLS though, as Don Garber himself has stated that MLS is still wanting a second team in New York City, and the Cosmos would pretty easily fit that bill. To all aspiring Cosmos fans reading this, go support your team, wherever they end up playing. You'll only be helping your own cause. It really is a great time to be a soccer fan in North America.


This also adds another interesting dynamic to the USL-PRO vs. NASL argument. While the USL-PRO league were able to add a market that the NASL was looking at in Tucson, the NASL clearly came back with the hay-maker by grabbing arguably the biggest brand in US Soccer history. It's still an interesting dynamic, and one that will continue to play out through the next years. In an incredibly small, and mostly pointless sample size, the USL-PRO have outperformed the NASL teams, as three USLPRO teams advanced to the quarterfinals of the US Open Cup, while no NASL teams made it there.

Whew. There's plenty to talk about, but lets get to whats most important right now, and that's the games. Race you to the recaps!

San Antonio Scorpions vs. Puerto Rico Islanders

A midweek clash with the two top teams in the NASL? Thanks scheduling guys! San Antonio were looking to keep their lead on the top of the table, while Puerto Rico are really pushing to get back up there. They pushed hard enough last Wednesday, as they defeated the Scorpions 1-0 in front 2,025 fans at the Bayamon Soccer Complex. The Scorpions were a bit disjointed on the night, taking a total of 12 shots, including 9 in the second half, but could not find the back of the net. The Islanders goal came in the 25th minute as a cross from Noah Delgado found Nick Addlery. The Islanders actually had two other goals disallowed in the first half, as one was called for offside and the other was called for a foul on Scorpions keeper Daryl Sattler. This win moved the Islanders at the time into a tie for first place with the Scorpions.

Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. Minnesota Stars FC

In a rare Thursday night clash, the other two teams pushing for the top spots in the league faced off, with Minnesota coming out on the winning side, beating Tampa Bay 2-1 in front of 2,164 in attendance at NSC Stadium. The Stars scored first, with a low blistering cross from Lucas Rodriguez, which found an unmarked and unpressured Martin Nunez, who calmly placed it by Rowdies keeper Jeff Antinella. The Stars doubled their money right before halftime, as a header from Nunez barely missed, clipping the post and falling to a diving Kentaro Takada(Ahem), who was able to slam the ball behind Antinella. The Rowdies didn't give up, and outshot the Stars in the second half, 8-3, but could only find the back of the net once. But that once was a beautiful goal, as a cross from Mike Ambersley found a streaking Matt Clare, who showed a great amount of class with a fantastic chip over Stars keeper Matthew VanOekel. The Rowdies had one more great chance as a lofted ball found Daniel Antoniuk's noggin, but he could only direct it barely outside the post.



Puerto Rico Islanders vs. Atlanta Silverbacks

That Wynalda pickup is looking like a pretty solid pickup for the Silverbacks, isn't it? The Silverbacks won their 2nd game in a row after beating the Islanders 2-1 at Silverbacks Park, with 4,869 watching the home debut of Interim coach Eric Wynalda. This week saw Wynalda bringing in two more Cal FC players, bringing the total up to five players from that team. It was 2nd year Silverbacks player who scored the first goal of the match though, as Nico Cololuca cleaned up a ball that wasn't cleared far enough by Islanders 'keeper Richard Martin. The Silverbacks went up with a 2-0 lead in the 2nd half as a huge floating ball, was played absolutely brilliantly by Silverbacks forward Matt Horth off his chest, turned and ripped the ball into Martin, who could only get a few fingers on it. The Islanders responded like they have all season, but this time it was just too late. In the 86th minute, an over-the-top ball found a sprinting, and wide open, Gregory Richardson, who hit a fantastic curler around Silverbacks 'keeper Daniel Illyes. The loss opened up the door for the Scorpions to take to the top the table again.

San Antonio Scorpions vs. Fort Lauderdale Strikers

Which they did halfway. Not really the Scorpions way about going things this year, but on the back-end of a mini-road trip, you'll take any points you can get. Which is exactly what the Scorpions did, even if they needed a late equalizer to match a late game winner, and got the 2-2 draw at Lockhart Stadium with 5,223 in attendance. The Strikers took their first lead of the match with a nicely chested down ball by Andy Herron, who then smacked it far post past Scorpions 'keeper Daryl Sattler. The Scorpions came back with a score within the first 15 minutes of the second half, as a nice fake by Pablo Campos left him with some space behind the defense, and he was able to knock it past Strikers 'keeper Matt Glaeser. The Scorpions then proceeded to make things more difficult for themselves, as Ryan Cochrane was shown a red card in the 63rd minute. The Silverbacks took advantage of this, and scored what looked to be the game winner as Andy Herron hit his brace with a nice bending free kick that left Sattler flat-footed. NASL goal scoring leader Pablo Campos would have none of it though, as he was able to get a shot past Glaeser deep into stoppage time. But while Sattler was beat twice on the night, if it wasn't for his ridiculous, save-of-the-week-in-any-league, the Scorpions could've lost this even deeper into stoppage time. A free kick that was gunning for the top corner was stopped by a full stretch Sattler, who saved the draw, and top of the league standings for the Scorpions.

Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. FC Edmonton

The Rowdies have been working hard to keep pace with the Islanders and the Scorpions, and they continued to make it more interesting, beating Edmonton 1-0 at Clarke Stadium in front of 1,688 fans. The Eddies, or the Drillers for tonight as Edmonton were wearing their throwback kits, were not without their scoring chances, as they nearly doubled the shots total of the Rowdies. The Rowdies even threw the Eddies/Drillers a bone, as a red card was shown to Rowdies midfielder Tsuyoshi Yoshitake with about 15 minutes left in the first half. Yet Edmonton couldn't capitalize on the man advantage the whole game. The second half brought the heavy, heavy rains and the internet video feed was lost for a sizeable portion of the match, including the Rowdies game winner, which was scored by Luke Mulholland.

It was mentioned earlier, but it should be said again that the top four teams in the NASL are separated by just three total points, which is just crazy. The only midweek game of the week places Minnesota against Fort Lauderdale, and the normal weekend schedule includes Carolina taking on Minnesota, Atlanta facing Edmonton, Tampa Bay going against Puerto Rico, and San Antonio taking on Fort Lauderdale.

Here's your updated crazy table.


TEAM
GP
W
T
L
GD
PTS
San Antonio Scorpions
16
8
5
3
9
29
Puerto Rico Islanders
17
8
4
5
7
28
Tampa Bay Rowdies
17
8
3
6
2
27
Minnesota Stars FC
16
7
5
4
3
26
Carolina RailHawks
16
5
6
5
2
21
Fort Lauderdale Strikers
17
5
6
6
-4
21
Atlanta Silverbacks
17
3
5
9
-14
14
FC Edmonton
16
3
4
9
-5
13


I really would like to hear your opinions on all the happenings of the NASL from this past week, so come find me on twitter @DoakGips, or start up a chat with me on the MLS Reserves Facebook page. 

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