Wednesday, August 8, 2012

NASL Week 18 Recap

Article by Doak Gips


Hmph. Well, shows how much I know. I spend all last week gushing about the Scorpions, and how they are clearly the best team in the NASL, and they can't be beat, and blah, gush, gasp, ooh and aah, and what do you know? I went into that game giving Puerto Rico a roughly 1% chance of winning after coming off a mid-week tilt in CONCACAF Champions League play, a game in which they played away to Isidro Metapan, and guess what? Spoiler alert. They won. They grinded out one of those road wins that winning teams can do on the road, and threw the NASL standings back into a mess for the top three. I'm sure they read my article from last week, got very upset, and collectively said “we'll show that guy!”. Yes, I'm most certainly sure of it. Who do I get to inadvertently provide bulletin board material for this week? Find out!

Puerto Rico Islanders vs. San Antonio Scorpions

Well, I already talked about it, so lets just get it out of the way, shall we? The Puerto Rico Islanders didn't seem to notice that they played a midweek game in another country, and beat the San Antonio Scorpions 2-1 in front of 10,183 fans at Heroes Stadium. The Scorpions never led this game, nor did they ever look real dangerous going forward. While they had a few moments of concerted attack, nothing ever really came from it, and they could only grab one goal this week, this coming after last week's 8 goal outburst. The Islanders first goal came from a nice little through ball from Hector Ramos, who found a sprinting Nick Addlery behind the Scorpions defense for the easy goal. While the Scorpions only managed 4 shots in the opening half, they did win 5 corners, but the typical finishers were finding no room to shoot tonight. It should be mentioned that the Scorpions were missing their starting 'keeper Daryl Sattler due to an unknown suspension. Seriously. I saw one quick mention of  it this week with no explanation. 


With that happening, the Scorpions grabbed Houston Dynamo goalkeeper Tyler Deric on a one week loan. The second goal wasn't entirely his fault, but let's just say we've all seen better goal keeping. After a through ball found its way behind the defense to Nick Addlery, Deric came charging way out of the box to meet Addlery, and was easily beat. Puerto Rico literally gave one back to the Scorpions as a ball that was being played backwards by an Islanders midfielder found a waiting Pablo Campos who easily headed the goal over Islanders 'keeper Richard Martin. The win moved Puerto Rico back into a tie for second place with Tampa Bay, and left the Scorpions with a 1 point lead in the NASL.

Minnesota Stars FC vs. FC Edmonton

I couldn't pick it up watching the game, but according to FC Edmonton's website, their home fans were chanting “We have beer”. Seriously. That's probably about all their fans have to cheer for. The Eddies have no offense. Their one man army in Shaun Saiko was out for the week, and the anemic offense of the Eddies couldn't even score in a game that they drew 1-1, with 1,536 fans at Clarke Stadium. The Stars opened the scoring on a deep ball that found the feet of Martin Nunez, and also probably some of the worst defending by Eddies defender Jonathan Joseph-Augustin, Nunez was left 1 on 1 with Eddies 'keeper Lance Parker, a battle in which Nunez came out ahead to put the Stars up 1-0. In the second half, the Eddies managed 0 shots and 1 goal, according to the box score. Well, this isn't entirely true, as the Eddies relatively weak shot on goal, ended up bouncing right off Matthew VanOekel's feet, right into charging Stars defender Ernest Tchoupe's shin, and right back across the goal. The draw along with a Fort Lauderdale loss, would move the Stars back up into fourth place.

Fort Lauderdale Strikers vs. Atlanta Silverbacks

One thing I can say for certain, that Atlanta have certainly turned it around under Eric Wynalda. Be it a combination of new players, better(?) coaching, or just the want to play again, the Silverbacks are at least a tough game at this point in the season, much better than the doormat they were at the beginning of the season. While I'm not sure it's enough to make the playoffs this late in the season, they're at least continuing their good push for next season, as they beat the Fort Lauderdale Strikers 4-2 with 4,090 watching from Atlanta Silverbacks park. Atlanta made up for last week's 5-3 loss to the Strikers by never trailing in this game. Their first goal from Mendes to Mendes, as Paulo found brother Pedro in front of the net for the header and 1-0 lead. 

Silverbacks 'keeper Daniel Illyes and his soccer pants were the bumble of the first Strikers goal, as he couldn't jump higher than Strikers defender Scott Gordon, who headed home the tie. But before the Strikers had a chance to celebrate, the Silverbacks scored another header goal, this time from Matt Horth. Fort Lauderdale was able to tie it up early on in the second half with a blast from Mark Anderson, but could only watch Atlanta pull away from there. Borfor Carr scored on a beautiful curling left corner shot from the top of the box, only slightly tainted by the fact that Fort Lauderdale's defense decided to take a quick nap and watched him shoot. Pedro Mendes completed his brace with what might be the NASL goal of the week, by putting a fantastic finesse shot around his defender, over Illyes, and off the far post into the net.

Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. Carolina Railhawks

It's good to know that all the teams in the NASL got the same memo on scoring a ton of goals this weekend. No other game was able to match the heavy drama of this game though, as the Tampa Bay Rowdies were able to draw the Carolina Railhawks 3-3 in front of 5,002 fans at WakeMed Soccer Park.
Tampa Bay drew first blood in the 17th minute as a cross from Rowdies midfielder Luke Mulholland's cross from Shane Hill's foot for the slowest, yet most effective volley ever, as his directed shot left Railhawks 'keeper Ray Burse standing still. The game turned after this though, and the Railhawks took serious control, scoring the next three. Goal number 1 came from Nick Zimmerman's noggin, as he scored goal number 10 on the season, with the cross coming in from Kupono Low. Goal number 2 came in the second half, as Nick Zimmerman made it 11 on the season, from a beautiful pass from Jason Garey. 


The Railhawks looked to bury the game less than 5 minutes later, as they caught Tampa Bay's entire back line literally staring off into nowhere, getting a throw in to Garey behind the entire defense and 1 on 1 with the keeper, which was easily buried. While this should've been the whole story, the Rowdies flipped the script, scoring their second goal on a beautiful header down assist from Mike Ambersley to Luke Mulholland, who sent it past Burse in the 86th minute. What happened in stoppage time though, is the reason were all soccer fans. The Railhawks were called for a handball in the box in the 91st minute. The subsequent penalty was saved by Burse, who looked to preserve the full three points for the Railhawks. Burse's block set up a corner for the Rowides, the first which was cleared for another corner. The second wasn't quite as lucky, as the sent in ball found the foot of Rowdies defender Takuya Yamada, and directed a wonderful shot past Burse to steal a point for the Rowdies.


This upcoming week, San Antonio travels to Edmonton for the only midweek game. The weekend schedule sees the full slate of games as Fort Lauderdale takes on Carolina, Tampa Bay face Atlanta, Minnesota go up against San Antonio, and Edmonton will play Puerto Rico.

Here are your updated standings.


TEAM
GP
W
T
L
GD
PTS
San Antonio Scorpions
19
10
5
4
17
35
Puerto Rico Islanders
20
10
4
6
7
34
Tampa Bay Rowdies
20
10
4
6
5
34
Minnesota Stars FC
20
7
6
7
0
27
Fort Lauderdale Strikers
21
7
6
8
-4
27
Carolina RailHawks
19
6
7
6
-5
25
FC Edmonton
19
4
5
10
-5
17
Atlanta Silverbacks
20
4
5
11
-15
17


Want to talk about the North American Soccer League? MLS? Soccer in general? Maybe you just want to tell me what a good time you had this past weekend. You can do all of that! Find me on twitter @DoakGips. 

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