Wednesday, September 5, 2012

NASL Week 22 Redux


Article by Doak Gips


Well, it only took a week longer than I had expected. The NASL playoff picture became a little clearer this week, as the Rowdies and Islanders both clinched a playoff spot. The Islanders even managed to do it while playing completely terrible this week, which I'm told, is not something that's easy to do. So now we've got three teams leading the way into the playoffs with most teams having at least three games left. The two teams who are on the outside of the playoffs for now, Edmonton and Atlanta, are both tied with 22 points, and really only have a realistic shot at catching free-falling Minnesota, who has 30 points with four games left to play. How did we get into this glorious mess? Well, as always, I'll be your recap tour guide. Please keep hands and feet inside the ride at all times. 

Atlanta Silverbacks vs. FC Edmonton

Before we go into this game, I'll lay out their chances of making the playoffs. Really small. Now that that's out the way...oh you want actual information? Right. Well, it stands as this. Both teams have four games left, with an obvious max of 12 points each, since they don't play each other anymore. They're both eight points behind last-playoff-spot holding Minnesota. So, assuming Minnesota loses every game here on out(possible), one of these teams needs to win three of those four to be ahead of the Stars by one point in the standings. Whew. Now that that's out of the way, the Silverbacks and Eddies did actually play a game this past week, with the worst(Atlanta) coming out on top of the bad (Edmonton) with a 2-0 victory at Clarke Stadium with 1,475 diehard Eddie supporters in tow. 


They were not treated well though, as the Silverbacks put two by them. Actually, scratch that. Matt Horth put two by them. The second year forward out of Gordon College(The Fighting Scots!) took his time to find his way into the game, but found goal number one in the 56th minute as he got behind a sleeping Eddies defense, and calmly placed it behind Eddies keeper Lance Parker. Horth wasted no time as goal number two came five minutes later in the 61st minute off a long throw in, which found Horth flying above the defense and placing it near post behind Parker for goal number two.

Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. Fort Lauderdale Strikers

Hey now, this how you emphatically clench a playoff spot. The Rowdies aren't about limping into their playoff run, and are attempting to catch the Scorpions, and they did so with gusto, beating the Strikers 3-0, with 5,629 very sad Striker fans in attendance. Ironically enough though, the Rowdies did not decide to put this away early, as they came away with only three shots in the first half. This was even after the Strikers gave them a gift, as Strikers midfielder Michael Tetteh was shown a red card in the 19th minute. The Rowdies finally decided to take advantage of this...over an hour later. The first goal came off a corner kick, which deflected off Rowdies defender Takuya Yamada right to another Rowdies defender, Raphael Cox, who placed his first goal of the season home. And with that, the Rowdies opened the flood gates. Just a few minutes later, they added goal number two courtesy of Frankie Sanfilipo, who made a great individual run that ended inside the 18, and with the ball ending up behind Strikers keeper Matt Glaeser. 

The Strikers gave up for goal number three, as a bad giveaway turned into horrific defending, as a wide open Carl Cort was lined up in the middle of the field at the top of the 18, made a nice cut move but had his initial effort stopped by Glaeser, only to finish off the rebound. The Strikers are one of the other teams currently in the playoffs, but have not clinched a spot yet. They are tied on points with the Carolina Railhawks at 34 and would need a complete meltdown to not make the playoffs.

San Antonio Scorpions vs. Minnesota Stars FC

The typical run of a good soccer team is that they can go on the road, and grind out the 1-0 wins, or at least get out of town with a draw. There really hasn't been a better team than San Antonio this year, and they workhorsed another 1-1 road draw with the Minnesota Stars at NSC Stadium with around 1,705 fans in attendance. The Stars actually started the scoring in the 33rd minute, as an absolute beauty of one touch passing from the Stars, that ended with Miguel Ibarra sending a low cross across the face of goal to Amani Walker, who was able to knock it home. The Stars also held the league leading offense to just one shot on goal in the first half, and only four in the second half. But it didn't matter. The Scorpions took advantage of one of those shots. Well, that's a little much. 

It was Hans Denissen who beat the Stars. After receiving the ball just outside the box from Pablo Campos, Denissen takes the ball inside, breaks a defender's ankle, then holds R1(or RB for you Xbox lovers) and the shoot button and calmly curves it around a diving Matthew VanOekel. The draw keeps the Scorpions four points clear, with four games left to go, against their 2nd place rival, the Tampa Bay Rowdies. The draw also keeps the struggling Stars afloat in the playoff race, even if they haven't actually won a game since beating the Rowdies all the way back on July 12th.

Carolina Railhawks vs. Puerto Rico Islanders

Who needs Martin Rennie? Well, that's kind of silly. But seriously though, the Railhawks have been playing some great soccer as of late and continued that run, stretching their win streak to three, and drubbing the Puerto Rico Islanders 3-1 at my new favorite stadium to type out, Estadio Juan Ramon Loubriel. The Railhawks came out firing on all cylinders, scoring two in the first half and making life completely difficult for the Islanders. The first goal was a bit of a silly mess, although it really shouldn't have been. The Railhawks won a corner kick, and the initial headed effort was denied. The ball came back to the feet of Railhawks forward Brian Ackley who hit the ball across the line, but was cleared, and the play continued for a short amount of time. The ref's got it right, and eventually awarded the goal, but it does beg the goal line technology feasibility questions, which is a can of worms that I don't plan on opening tonight. 


Nevertheless, the Railhawks earned their 1-0 lead, and in the 36th minute, made it 2-0. The play started on a bad giveaway by the Islanders in the midfield, which turned into a wonderfully played forward ball by Brian Shriver to the feet of Railhawks sub Jason Garey, who got a one on one chance with the 'keeper, and made it count. The Islanders were not out of it yet, and came out of the gate in the 2nd half firing. Islanders forward Nicholas Addlery great first touch on an over the top ball made the shot and score by Hector Ramos even better, and in the 47th minute, the Islanders found themselves right back in the game. But the Railhawks were having none of that business tonight, and put the game away on a fantastic low cross from Ty Shipalane, which Nick Zimmerman took on the volley and very calmly placed it behind Martin.

This upcoming week, San Antonio will try their luck in Carolina, Tampa Bay will face Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale will take on Puerto Rico, and Minnesota and Edmonton will clash in a very crucial game with both teams fighting for that last playoff spot.

Here's a look at your current standings.
X – Denotes team that has clinched a playoff spot.

TEAM
GP
W
T
L
GD
PTS
San Antonio Scorpions x
24
12
7
5
21
43
Tampa Bay Rowdies x
24
11
6
7
4
39
Puerto Rico Islanders x
24
10
6
8
4
36
Carolina RailHawks
23
9
7
7
-2
34
Fort Lauderdale Strikers
25
9
7
9
-5
34
Minnesota Stars FC
24
7
9
8
-1
30
FC Edmonton
24
5
7
12
-7
22
Atlanta Silverbacks
24
5
7
12
-14
22

Let's talk about the North American Soccer League, yes? Come find me on twitter @DoakGips. 

1 comment:

  1. Wish we had an NASL team here in Tulsa, would love to see the Roughnecks come back...

    ReplyDelete