The script stayed largely the same in Round 4 of the NASL Fall Season, as the Carolina Railhawks stayed atop the table, the New York Cosmos grabbed another late winner and the San Antonio Scorpions, well, they kept on losing. Read all about it in this week’s NASL Round in Review, courtesy of IndyEleven.com’s Ben Simmons …
New York Cosmos 2 : 1 San Antonio Scorpions
What you missed: Another dose of late game magic in Cosmos Country for the home side that inflicted further pain on the struggling Scorpions. Three weeks after ushering in a new era with a gripping eleventh hour victory in front of a sold out Shuart Stadium crowd, the Cosmos (7 pts., 2-1-1) returned to their winning ways in nearly identical fashion, again edging a foe 2-1 thanks to a stoppage time strike. Whereas a defensive blunder had giftwrapped the Cosmos their first triumph earlier this month, Saturday night’s decisive moment, while coming against a battered and numerically inferior Scorpions (0 pts., 0-4-0) defense, was less dubiously earned. Forty minutes after San Antonio defender Greg Janicki was sent off for a second bookable offense, Cosmos midfielder Henry Lopez guided a headed Marcos Senna cross with his own head into the bottom left corner of the net, garnering the Cosmos three priceless points.
Foreign flare: The Cosmos, who were renowned for the distinctly international makeup throughout their former incarnation, are displaying a heavy reliance on talent from abroad this time around as well. Through four games, the squad has found the goal four times, and each of those tallies has come courtesy of a player from foreign soil. After Bosnian attacker Perica Marošević and Italian forward Alessandro Noselli provided the scoring output earlier this month against Fort Lauderdale Strikers, Lopez, a Guatemalan, and Diomar Diaz, who hails from Venezuela, got in on the act Saturday evening on Long Island.
Carolina RailHawks 1 : 0 Minnesota United FC
What you missed: A tense affair in which the RailHawks prevailed and preserved their perfect home record, in the process adding distance between them and the chasing NASL pack ahead of back-to-back contests in Florida the next two weekends. On the eve of their voyage southward, Carolina (10 pts., 3-1-0) now sits three points clear of New York and has the best goal difference in the league at plus-five. While the RailHawks, who have not lost at home in league play since last October, extended their undefeated streak at WakeMed Soccer Park to nine games, Minnesota United saw its brief surge short circuited. Having taken four points from its past two matches, Minnesota met the same fate as every visitor to WakeMed in 2013 except Atlanta and walked away empty-handed.
Searing Shriver: With a simple finish that rounded off a slick, incisive move from midfield to the heart of the Minnesota box, Carolina striker Brian Shriver added yet another goal to his 2013 tally. The RailHawks talisman, who is in his second year with the club, has 12 goals in league action in 2013 and continues to prove himself as the most lethal strikers in the NASL. Having registered an 11-goal haul with Fort Lauderdale two years ago, he has already surpassed that total and, with ten games remaining on the fall slate, will certainly to add to it. Attention now turns to Shriver’s pursuit of the top single-season mark in NASL 2.0’s history of 20, which is jointly held by Pablo Campos (2012) and Etienne Barbara (2011).
Atlanta Silverbacks 0 : 1 Fort Lauderdale Strikers
What you missed: A somewhat surprising result that vaulted the visiting Strikers (6 pts., 2-0-2) back into contention and brought the hosts’ five-game undefeated run to an unexpected halt. The Silverbacks (5 pts., 1-2-1), who had lost only once in the past ten fixtures, fell victim to the lone goal of the match, a first-half header courtesy of the Strikers’ young American attacker Bradlee Baladez. The ardor of the Silverbacks’ task was then compounded on the stroke of halftime, as midfielder Danny Barrera received a straight red card for an errant elbow. Despite the disadvantage, the depleted home side would provide incessant pressure, however the score line would hold firm for the entirety of the second half, ensuring that the Strikers—without a Fall victory heading into last week’s trip San Antonio—were now proud owners of a modest road win streak.
Lauds for Fort Lauderdale: Since the hiring of Günter Kronsteiner during the summer intermission, the Strikers, who ended the Spring Season with two ghastly, lopsided setbacks, have had the look of a newly-invigorated squad. After the inauspicious start to the Kronsteiner era—two late defeats punctuated by a SportsCenter not-Top 10-worthy own-goal—threatened to deflate their fresh outlook, they have accomplished a feat no other NASL club has been able to replicate in 2013, winning successive away games one weekend after the next in the same half of the season. Only two weeks ago, the narrative surrounding the Strikers struck the same sour tone as it had before Kronsteiner’s arrival; now, the Atlantic contingent of Florida’s NASL duo finds itself jockeying in the middle of the standings, vying to be the most likely candidate to overtake the steady RailHawks.
Tampa Bay Rowdies 1 : 1 FC Edmonton
What you missed: A barrage of total shots on frame (17) that was largely wasted, producing only a pair of offsetting first-half goals within eight minutes of one another. Though both finishing touches were applied with aplomb, they were avoidable in each case. In the 38th minute, Tampa Bay midfielder Luke Mulholland made the most of a poorly placed Edmonton pass out of the back, the product of England pouncing on a rebound in the 38th minute to fire the hometown Rowdies in front. Parity was restored moments before halftime, when Edmonton squared the contest through Guyanese international Chris Nurse following a tame attempted clearance by the Rowdies’ center back tandem.
The “Nurse” of the North: Before a 1-1 draw with Atlanta last weekend, FC Edmonton midfielder Chris Nurse, who represents Guyana on the international stage despite having been born in England, had not scored in NASL competition in 2013. What a difference six days make—after providing the Canadian outfit’s only goal for the second week running, his composure in front of goal appears indispensable for a squad that has only manufactured three goals in its first four games of the Fall Season.