NASL Week Six: Islanders & Stars Each Notch Home Win, Scorpions & Eddies Win on the Road
A full slate of NASL matches Saturday night saw the Puerto Rico Islanders maintain their hold on first place with their 2-0 win over the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in Bayamon while the Minnesota Stars remain undefeated on the season, winning 2-1 at home over the reeling Carolina RailHawks. The Stars are now only a point behind the Islanders in the NASL standings. The San Antonio Scorpions notched another road win with a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rowdies while FC Edmonton earned their second win of the season in Atlanta 2-0 over the Silverbacks.
Puerto Rico Islanders 2-0 Fort Lauderdale Strikers
The Islanders upped their season record to 4-1-1 with a win over the Strikers Saturday night, avenging their loss to the south Florida team in their last NASL game. With the loss, the Strikers ended their three-game roadtrip earning only one point.
The game was scoreless until late in stoppage time when Gregory Richardson played a ball to Englishman David Foley, who was able to beat Strikers’ keeper Matt Glaeser. The goal was the fourth of the season for Foley. The Islanders outshot the Strikers 10-1 in the first half, as the Floridians obviously miss injured forward Andy Herron.
The Strikers improved in the second half, getting off six shots, but it was the Islanders’ evening as a deflected ball came right to substitute Hector Ramos six minutes after break. The 22-year-old Puerto Rican international stepped up and shot to Glaeser’s right to double the Islanders’ lead.
“Puerto Rico was the better team on the night,” said Strikers head coach Daryl Shore. “We understand this is a hard place to play and every time we play it’s going to be a tough match. At the end of the day it’s going to be about who survives the battle.” For the match the Islanders outshot the Strikers 16-7, with Foley and Jonathan Fana combining for eleven efforts at goal while Adrian Whitbread’s men earned six corner kicks to only two for the visitors. Richard Martin made five saves in route to his fourth clean sheet of the season for the Islanders.
The Strikers return home next weekend to host the NASL Champion Minnesota Stars, while the Islanders play host again this Wednesday to the Atlanta Silverbacks. The Islanders will begin defense of their Caribbean Football Union title when the tournament kicks off on May 19. The Puerto Rican club will face a hectic schedule, playing six games in the CFU tournament and in NASL competition within 13 days. Earlier this week the Islanders added veteran Marco Velez as a player/coach.
Carolina RailHawks 1-2 Minnesota Stars FC
Coach Manny Lagos’ Stars remain unbeaten in the 2012 season following their 2-1 victory over the winless Carolina RailHawks. The Stars took the lead in the 15th minute on an Amani Walker goal and scored again early in the second half on long range blast by Kevin Venegas. Colin Clarke’s RailHawks came back late when former MLSer Austin Da Luz tallied but it wasn’t enough to derail the Stars. For more on the match see Brian Quarstad’s recap.
Tampa Bay Rowdies 1-2 San Antonio Scorpions
The expansion Scorpions are now unbeaten in their last four matches, including back-to back wins over the Rowdies the last two weekends. Saturday’s win at Al Lang Stadium before over 3,100 fans places San Antonio in the third spot in the NASL table as the Scorpions replicate the good start of last season’s NASL expansion side, FC Edmonton.
Following a scoreless first half that included some quality opportunities from Rowdies’ Daniel Scott and Mike Ambersley, former RailHawks’ forward Pablo Campos cracked open the scoreless duel for San Antonio in the 53rd minute, assisted by veteran Aaron Pitchkolan. Ricky Hill’s Rowdies responded quickly, as Daniel Antoniuk continued his fine form with a left footed shot that passed Scorpions’ keeper Daryl Sattler to even up the scoreline at 1-1.
Sattler came up big with a diving save in the 71st minute on another Antoniuk attempt, this time a header from Frankie Sanfilippo’s cross. Sattler’s Rowdies counterpart, Jeff Attinella, was up to the challenge in denying Hans Denissen in the 80th minute but Campos notched the game-winner in the game’s closing moments as he pounced on a rebound from a Esteban Bayona shot. The goal was the third of the season for the Brazilian.
Tim Hankinson’s Scorpions will look to extend their hot streak when they return home to Heroes Field next Saturday to face FC Edmonton while the Rowdies look to return to their winning ways in Atlanta that day.
Atlanta Silverbacks 0-2 FC Edmonton
FC Edmonton rose up past the Silverbacks and RailHawks in the league standings to the sixth place playoff berth by gaining their second win of the 2012 season in Atlanta. The loss leaves the Silverbacks still looking for their first win of 2012, although they have earned four points on four drawn contests.
A crowd of over 4,700 at Silverbacks Stadium saw the home team put in a good effort that wasn’t good enough to earn a point. The Eddies struck early, as Michael Cox beat Atlanta keeper Daniel Illyes from a throughball by Dutch midfielder Ilja van Leerdam in the 14th minute. Neither team was able to add a goal in the remaining half hour of first half play despite eleven more shots accrued by both clubs and an attempt by NASL leading goalscorer Reinaldo Navia, whose shot missed wide of the frame.
The situation worsened for the Silverbacks near the hour mark when defender Shane Moroney was red-carded for a tackle on Edmonton’s Matt Lam. Despite being a man down, Alex Pineda Chacon’s Atlanta club pushed to gain an equalizer but it was van Leerdam who notched the game’s only other score, when his hard shot eluded Illyes in the 87th minute. The Silverbacks forced five saves from Eddies’ keeper John Smits, including a diving punch of a header from David Santamaria, in his professional debut as he earned the clean sheet.
Cox’ early goal was crucial in the Eddies’ road win. “As a goal scorer Michael (Cox) has been important to us,” said head coach Harry Sinkgraven about his big striker at the half. “He’s been dangerous up there. But we have to score the second goal. The last pass isn’t precise enough and we have to watch out for Navia because he’s a sniper up there.” Navia had four shots in the match, while second half sub Matt Horth provided an immediate threat for the Silverbacks with two headed shots at goal, but the Eddies dealt well with their threats and did indeed grab the second goal to earn all three points.