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NASL Week 2: Islanders Spoil Scorpions Home Debut, Tampa Wins in Home Opener, RailHawks and Silverbacks Display Fireworks On and Off the Field

2012 April 16
by Gerry Wittmann

The RailHawks home opener against the Silverbacks was a high-scoring affair. Photo courtesy of Rob Kinnan.

Only 2 goals were scored in the first week of NASL action. Week 2 saw a complete turnaround with 13 scored among 4 teams. Unfortunately none of those goals fell to the San Antonio Scorpions, who had their long-awaited home opener before a crowd of over 13,000. Instead, the Puerto Rico Islanders rained on their parade, winning 4-0 at Heroes Field. The Tampa Bay Rowdies grabbed their first win of the season Saturday night as they defeated the visiting FC Edmonton club 1-0, while up the road in North Carolina the RailHawks and Atlanta Silverbacks played to a wild 4-4 draw. The champion Minnesota Stars FC are still without a goal after two league matches, but they did manage a road point in Fort Lauderdale in their scoreless draw with the Strikers.

San Antonio Scorpions 0-4 Puerto Rico Islanders

The San Antonio Scorpions drew a crowd of 13,151 on a clear Sunday Texas evening for their NASL debut at Heroes Field.  Unfortunately for San Antonians, the Puerto Rico Islanders were too much for the home team to handle as they defeated the Scorpions 4-0. For a more on the Islanders victory go here.

Tampa Bay Rowdies 1-0 FC Edmonton

Coach Ricky Hill’s Rowdies handed the Eddies their second defeat of the season before over 3,100 fans at Al Lang Stadium Saturday evening with their 1-0 victory. Takuya Yamada netted the game-winner for the Rowdies.

Despite the low score, the two clubs each had 14 shots and totaled 15 corner kicks between them during the match. Yamada, the 37-year-old J-League veteran who scored the game-winner in last year’s Tampa Bay home opener, scored with an assist from Andres Arango in the 20th minute of the match, and the Rowdies held off the Eddies for the remainder of the game as goalkeeper Jeff Attinella made eight saves to claim the clean sheet.

The Eddies were without Adam West and Chris Kooy for the match, but did hail the return of regular starter Paul Hamilton, who missed opening week because of a suspension earned during last season’s playoffs. Edmonton had chances to equalize later in the first half from Serisay Barthélémy and from Hamilton. During the second half, Barthélémy again was unable to convert a solid goalscoring chance while Kyle Porter had a chance deflected. Despite the good work of Michael Misiewicz in the Edmonton goal, Tampa Bay’s defense held on to give Coach Hill his first win of the 2012 season.

The Eddies had four players receive yellow cards as they lost their second road game of the season. On Wednesday they will look for a positive result against the Puerto Rico Islanders in Bayamon before playing their home opener next Sunday against the Stars.

Carolina RailHawks 4-4 Atlanta Silverbacks

Both the RailHawks and Silverbacks were shut out in their NASL Week One matches, but came back to each garner four goals Saturday in Cary, North Carolina. Unfortunately for both teams, in this instance four goals scored in the match was only enough to earn a point in a wild match that saw the RailHawks salvage their point at the very end of the game. Also unfortunate for both sides were the four red cards issued and the contentious ending to the match.

Colin Clarke’s RailHawks got on the scoreboard early, as newcomer Mike Palacio scored the first Carolina goal of the season in the 2nd minute. Nick Zimmerman doubled the RailHawks’ lead in the 38th minute and the RailHawks looked to be off to the races.

But the improved Silverbacks had other ideas. They replied two minutes following Zimmerman’s goal as Reinaldo Navia scored his first NASL goal on a pass from Shane Moroney, and Raphael Cox’ low shot was the Silverbacks’ equalizer three minutes before the half ended with the game knotted at two goals apiece.

Atlanta defender Willie Hunt got his sophomore NASL season going right as he headed in a goal in the 68th minute following a corner kick to grant the Silverbacks a 3-2 lead. Seven minutes later, the game was knotted again as Zimmerman latched onto a long pass from Kupono Low and beat Silverbacks’ goalkeeper Daniel Illyes from 12 yards out. Atlanta’s Hunt soon received his second yellow card, but as has been the case in the early going this season in the NASL, the team with a man disadvantage flipped the script and scored, as Chilean veteran Navia’s slow roller got past the RailHawks’ Ray Burse to create another lead change.

But former Fort Lauderdale Striker Brian Shriver rescued a point as he scored the equalizer from a Ty Shipalane pass.  But the fireworks weren’t over yet. According to Neil Morris on, “after Carolina cleared a Silverbacks corner kick, Shipalane made a late slide tackle on Nico Colaluca near midfield. Anticipating a foul call from the referee, Colaluca raced over to Brian Ackley, who was standing on the touchline preparing to make a throw-in. Colaluca knocked the ball out of Ackley’s hands, Ackley retaliated and the two players began to exchanges shoves and blows. Clarke, standing a few feet away and perhaps recalling his raucous days in the South Coast Derby, stepped between them and pushed Ackley away from the action. In the process of trying to keep after Ackley, Colaluca lunged forward and inadvertently threw a shoulder block into the chest of fourth official Tyler McCauley, knocking him to the turf.”

Both benches emptied, and police were involved, but with a minute of stoppage left the referee whistled the game to an end for a 4-4 draw.  Ackley and Colaluca both received red cards.  The two teams totaled 29 shots. seven yellow cards and three red cards in the match.

Fort Lauderdale Strikers 0-0 Minnesota Stars FC

One of the major changes that the champion Stars have had to deal with in the offseason is the retirement of goalkeeper Joe Warren.  The long-time goalkeeper for both the Stars and their Minnesota predecessors, the Thunder, Warren had the physical skills and the experience to provide Minnesota with top-notch goalkeeping.

Twenty-five-year-old Matt VanOekel has been Warren’s understudy the past two seasons. The former Rutgers man has played in a handful of matches for the Stars, but hadn’t had the extended opportunity to prove himself.

So far in 2012, VanOekel has proven a worthy successor to Warren.  He has earned two shutouts in the first two matches of 2012.  Saturday, he faced 12 Strikers shots as his Fort Lauderdale counterpart, Matt Glaeser, also earned his second clean sheet of the year as their clubs drew 0-0. For more coverage of the Strikers-Stars matchup, click here.



One Response
  1. Yankiboy permalink
    April 16, 2012

    I freaking LOVE how Der Kaiser Wittman breaks down the recent NASL action. It’s colorful and concise.

    I also enjoyed the fracas at the end of the Carolina and Atlanta match.

    It’s early in the season but I am really liking this year’s version of the Silverbacks. It’s hard to see them getting slapped around this season like they did last year. I’m eager to see more of them.

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