NASL Week 7: Scorpions, Rowdies and Stars All Victorious
The San Antonio Scorpions are becoming as hot as a Texas summer as they downed FC Edmonton 2-0 before another excellent crowd at Heroes Field, while the Minnesota Stars are on a roll themselves, defeating the Fort Lauderdale Strikers 3-1 in Florida. The visiting Tampa Bay Rowdies withstood a Silverbacks comeback to capture all three points in Atlanta while the Carolina RailHawks and Puerto Rico Islanders split the points in a 1-1 draw at WakeMed Soccer Park.
San Antonio Scorpions 2-0 FC Edmonton
The quality of the squad put together by Coach Tim Hankinson for the expansion Scorpions is quite apparent as the Texans won their fourth consecutive game Saturday with their 2-0 win over FC Edmonton. A crowd of over 8,300 fans at Heroes Field were on hand.
Saturday proved to be a happy day for San Antonio citizens as their beloved Spurs took a 3-0 advantage with their win earlier in the day in their NBA Western Conference playoff series in LA against the Clippers, while the Scorpions followed suit with their fourth consecutive NASL win.
It was FC Edmonton that had the best early chance to score in Saturday’s match, but Shaun Saiko’s shot went wide. The first half remained nil-nil until Scorpions forward Pablo Campos drew a 40th minute penalty, with Jonathan Greenfield converting from the spot for an early San Antonio lead.
The Scorpions clinched the win in the second half as former Houston Dynamo defender Ryan Cochrane headed in a Greenfield assist past Eddies keeper John Smits in the 75th minute. Scorpions’ keeper Daryl Sattler earned his third clean sheet in four San Antonio starts as the Scorpions outshot the Eddies 9-7.
“Winning breeds winning,” head coach Tim Hankinson said. “I thought our possession picked up in the second half. Hats off to Jonathan (Greenfield) for stepping in and making big plays.” The next action for the 4-2-1 Scorpions takes place Tuesday, as the San Antonio club makes its U.S. Open Cup debut against the PDL’s Laredo Heat, with the winner to face the Houston Dynamo. For more on Saturday’s match, see Andrew Arellano’s match report.
Fort Lauderdale Strikers 1-3 Minnesota Stars FC
Coach Manny Lagos has the Stars cruising in style as they downed the host Strikers 3-1, leaving the Strikers winless in their last four games. The Stars’ win maintains their second place berth in the NASL standings, only a point behind the Islanders, as the defending champions from Minnesota have yet to taste defeat this season in seven matches.
The Strikers took the early lead, with veteran forward Abe Thompson finding rookie Mark Anderson. The Englishman from nearby Barry University gave the 2,700 Striker Likers something to cheer with his second goal of the season. But the Stars came back late in the half as Amani Walker equalized to knot the score going into intermission.
“The game really turned when we got that goal right before the half,” Stars head coach Manny Lagos said. “I thought it energized us, and we were strong in the second half and really able to work the ball around well.”
Walker was a difference maker in the match, as the second year pro from UC-Irvine provided assists on both of the Stars’ second half goals (from Miguel Ibarra and Simone Bracalello) to cinch the match for the Stars. For more on this match, see Brian Quarstad’s game report.
Atlanta Silverbacks 2-3 Tampa Bay Rowdies
Coach Ricky Hill’s Rowdies rebounded back from back-to-back losses to the Scorpions to take the measure of the Silverbacks in Atlanta 3-2 Saturday night, raising their season mark to 3-2-3 while the Silverbacks remain to search for their first 2012 win.
Five thousand fans at Silverbacks Stadium witnessed the Rowdies scoring the first two goals. Daniel Antoniuk, 31, continues to prove that his signing was a savvy move for the Rowdies as he notched the games’ first two goals, with help from teammates Shane Hill on the first and Keith Savage on the second. They were Antoniuk’s third and fourth goal of the new campaign — he scored three goals in 23 matches for FC Edmonton last season. Coach Hill said, “Daniel did a great job finishing both of his goals and he was certainly rewarded for his excellent movement tonight.” The Rowdies went into the halftime locker room with a 2-0 lead — they haven’t allowed a first-half goal this season.
The Silverbacks got on the scoreboard just past the hour mark, when Shane Moroney headed a ball past Jeff Attinella to halve the lead from a Raphael Cox cross. Moroney had come in to begin the second half, replacing the Silverbacks’ Brazilian defender Rilla. But unfortunately for the large home crowd, Tampa Bay’s Mike Ambersley’s strong effort was rewarded when he tallied in the 79th minute to put the Rowdies up 3-1. Moroney scored on another header with less than two minutes remaining in the half, but again it was the same old song for the Silverbacks (too little, too late) and they dropped all three points 3-2. Hungarian goalkeeper Daniel Illyes was back between the posts for the Silverbacks after backup Joe Nasco got the starting nod last week.
“We are delighted to get back to our winning ways,” said Hill. “It was one of those games where the next goal was going to be important. I am disappointed in us giving up another goal on a set piece, but all in all, I think we deserved the three points tonight.”
The Rowdies will be involved in U.S. Open Cup action away from home Tuesday against Jacksonville United of the NPSL at their Patton Park home in Jacksonville while Atlanta coach Alex Pineda Chacon will seek his first head coaching win Tuesday in the Open Cup against NPSL side the Georgia Revolution at the RYSA Soccerplex in Conyers, Georgia. The Revolution defeated the PDL Mississippi Brilla to advance to the Cup’s second round.
Carolina RailHawks 1-1 Puerto Rico Islanders
Colin Clarke’s RailHawks earned their fourth draw of the season at home Saturday against the league-leading Puerto Rico Islanders. Although still looking for their first 2012 win, Clarke commented following the match that, ““We played very well tonight and generated chances. Unfortunately we weren’t able to score more goals. If we continue to play this way, the results will come.”
Clarke made a few lineup changes for Saturday’s match against his former club, adding Austin Da Luz and Breiner Ortiz to his starting lineup while Gale Agbossoumonde started for the second match in a row in the back for Carolina. Despite a strong first half performance, though, it was La Tropa Naranja who scored first, as Jonathan Fana tallied his third goal of the year, chesting the ball into the net from a Jay Needham header that followed a free kick. The 33rd minute goal held up for the remainder of the half as the Islanders entered the dressing room with a 1-0 halftime lead.
Former Fort Lauderdale Striker Brian Shriver put smiles on the 3,000 fans at WakeMed early in the second half as he blasted a golazzo for his fourth score of the season. Nick Zimmerman played provider, but the RailHawks could get nothing more past Islanders’ splendid goalkeeper Richard Martin despite outshooting the island club 8-1 and forcing four Martin saves in the final 45 minutes.
The Islanders begin defense of their Caribbean Football Union crown on solid footing after starting the NASL season with only one loss in their first eight games while leading the league in goal differential (+11). The RailHawks will look for their first win in the post-Martin Rennie era when they take on PSA Elite in Open Cup action Tuesday. There will be no need for extra motivation for the RailHawks, as a win for Carolina would mean that the defending MLS champion LA Galaxy would visit WakeMed May 29 against the RailHawks in Round 3 of the Cup competition. PSA Elite is a California-based club that defeated former 2010 PDL National Champions the Portland Timbers U-23 in the Cup’s first round.