Thursday, August 30, 2012

NASL Week 21 Recap


Article by Doak Gips


I thought coming into this week, we would be talking a little more about how the NASL playoff picture would be a little clearer. Of course, every team did everything possible to not move away from each other. Well, thats a bit of an over statement, as the bottom of the table became a little clearer, but that doesn't help many people. Even with the loss, San Antonio basically held serve, with the big game of Puerto Rico and Tampa becoming a dud. But this opening paragraph isn't for telling you everything, it's just a tease. Less teasing, more recaping!

San Antonio Scorpions vs. Fort Lauderdale Strikers

I think it's fair to say the Scorpions aren't invincible. I mean, we all knew that anyway, but even with the overall feeling that they are the best in the league, their recent results are starting to say otherwise. “But Doak, they crushed the 2nd place Rowdies 4-0 last week!”. Yeah, they did. But over the last five games, they are 2-2-1, which still isn't bad, but I feel that of a league leader, you'd look for those losses to at least be draws. But they aren't, and this week was one of those losses, losing 2-1 to the Strikers at Lockhart Stadium with 3,268 in attendance. With a first half devoid of goals, the Strikers opened the scoring in the second half in the 59th minute, as a penalty was called on the Scorpions for a handball in the box, which was converted by Abe Thompson. Less than 10 minutes later, the ball found itself at Abe Thompson's foot again, who hit a power shot at Scorpions goalkeeper Daryl Sattler. 


The Scorpions keeper was able to get a hand on it, but could not stop it from going into the back of the net for the 2-0 lead. The Scorpions brought one back in the 83rd minute, as a free kick from Javier Saavedra was sent into the box, and an ill-advised clearance went straight backwards into the net, for the official own-goal. The loss is the start of a three game road trip for the San Antonio Scorpions, which will also send them to Minnesota and to Carolina.

Carolina Railhawks vs. Atlanta Silverbacks

One thing we can certainly agree on though, is that the Silverbacks are bad. Seriously. Not saying the Eric Wynalda experiment was a complete failure, because I honestly think he improved the team a little. But he brought in players, not a whole different team. And there was only so much he could do in such a short amount of time. Not that it really bothers the Railhawks, as they're looking to cement at least a playoff spot, and they moved closer to that, beating the Silverbacks 1-0 at Silverbacks Park with 4,896 Silverbacks supporters watching. 

A sloppy first half saw 20 fouls combined for both teams, with 11 of those going against Atlanta, and a total of three yellow cards being flashed at various faces in the first half. Atlanta has also let me break out the always solid “if you don't finish your chances, you're going to win the game” cliché, as they had double the shots of the Railhawks, 14-7, but still could not find a goal. The Railhawks grabbed the game winner in the 66th minute, as Railhawks forward Brian Ackerly received the ball just outside the top of the 18, and ripped a possible NASL goal of the week into the top right corner past soccer pants wearing, Silverbacks goalkeeper Daniel Illyes. The win moved the Railhawks into 5th place, two points clear of Minnesota.


FC Edmonton vs. Minnesota Stars FC

To say Minnesota has been on a downward slide would be a little bit of an understatement. The Stars haven't actually won a game since beating the Rowdies 2-1 way back on July 12th, and out of the last five games that they've played since then, they've only drawn one and lost four. The Stars are really taking anything they can get at this point, so they'll take this 1-1 draw with Edmonton at NSC Stadium with 2,247 onlookers. The Stars opened the scoring on something that resembled schoolyard soccer, as the ball was not cleared after a corner, bounced and bounded between multiple players before finally landing at the feet of Stars defender Cristiano Dias, who rifled it low past Edmonton 'keeper Lance Parker. 

The Eddies weren't ready to go home empty handed on this night, and Bryan Arguez, the on-loan midfielder from the Montreal Impact, ripped a beauty into the top corner of the net, and salvaged the point on the road for the Eddies. These two teams meet again in two weeks at NSC stadium again, which is basically a playoff game for the Eddies. They currently sit seven points back from the Stars with five games left to play.

Puerto Rico Islanders vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies

The fight for second place! Two heavyweights going at it to fight their way back up to the top of the table! Two teams playing great soccer and both hungry for a win! You already know where this is going. Puerto Rico and Tampa Bay both decided to lay goose eggs in this past weeks game of the week, which was attended by 3,125 rowdy Rowdies. The usual bright side to these games though, is that there were chances, and Tampa clearly had more than they knew what to do with, especially in the first half, in which they amassed nine shots and six corners. Their best shot came in the 10th minute, as a Luke Mulholland clean up shot went off the top of the crossbar and over. 

The Rowdies best scoring chance, was an earned penalty kick in the 27th minute, but Richard Martin came up huge with a correct guess and a great diving save. The second half was more Rowdies and in the 77th minute, a Luke Mullholand free kick was again denied by Richard Martin. The Islanders chances came fewer and farther between as the game went on, and could only muster up a week chance off a corner in the 85th minute. The draw keeps the teams level on points, although the Rowdies are up on the Islanders by five in the goal differential category.

The games this week include Fort Lauderdale taking on Tampa Bay, Puerto Rico facing Carolina, Minnesota going up against San Antonio, and Edmonton playing against Atlanta.

The current standings are as follows.
X – Denotes team in the playoffs.

TEAM
GP
W
T
L
GD
PTS
San Antonio Scorpions x
23
12
6
5
21
42
Puerto Rico Islanders
23
10
6
7
6
36
Tampa Bay Rowdies
23
10
6
7
1
36
Fort Lauderdale Strikers
24
9
7
8
-2
34
Carolina RailHawks
22
8
7
7
-4
31
Minnesota Stars FC
23
7
8
8
-1
29
FC Edmonton
23
5
7
11
-5
22
Atlanta Silverbacks
23
4
7
12
-16
19


Want to talk more sweet, sweet NASL action? Come find me on twitter. @DoakGips

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