NASL Week 9: RailHawks, Silverbacks Earn First 2012 League Wins
Week 9 of NASL matches was a weekend of firsts as the Carolina RailHawks earned their first league win of the season Saturday over the Puerto Rico Islanders while the Atlanta Silverbacks also gained their first league victory of 2012 Sunday over FC Edmonton, both victors winning by 2-1 scores. The Fort Lauderdale Strikers earned their first regular season NASL win over their Florida rivals, the Tampa Bay Rowdies 3-1. Finally, both the Minnesota Stars FC and the San Antonio Scorpions kept their unbeaten streaks alive in a scoreless draw Saturday at Heroes Stadium.
Carolina RailHawks 2-1 Puerto Rico Islanders
The RailHawks have got their groove back, defeating the LA Galaxy in US Open Cup play Tuesday and downing the Islanders Saturday at home despite being down a man for almost two-thirds of the contest. The win gives the RailHawks eight points on the season after ten matches, tying them with both the Atlanta Silverbacks and FC Edmonton for the league’s last playoff spot.
All the goals in Saturday’s match followed a scoreless first half in which RailHawks’ defender Gale Agbossoumonde was ejected for a rough tackle on the Islanders’ excellent attacker Jonathan Fana. Down a man, the RailHawks were beneficiaries of an Islanders’ own deflected own goal to gain a 1-0 lead. Carolina were able to hold their lead until the 79th minute, when a pass from Fana to defender Jay Needham equalized the score.
The RailHawks earned their first 2012 NASL win before 3,500 Carolina partisans in a rough and tumble match (six yellow cards issued and 26 fouls called in addition to Boss’ red card) with two minutes left in regulation time. A long pass from former Islanders’ goalkeeper Ray Burse found Ty Shipalane, who notched the game winner. The RailHawks had 11 shots and four corner kicks in the match while the Islanders accrued nine shots and also earned four corners.
“It’s nice to keep the winning streak going. We won with ten men against eleven and thoroughly deserved it; we outplayed them today and earned three valuable points,” said head coach Colin Clarke. “We have two more games this week and so now we need to get back to work and see how some guys recover from today’s match. We are looking forward to Tuesday’s match.” The RailHawks will be looking for their fourth consecutive win (third in USOC competition) when they host Chivas USA Tuesday at WakeMed Soccer Park. Chivas USA feature young US international Juan Agudelo and veteran Juan Pablo Angel in attack.
Saturday’s loss was the first in six matches in all competitions for La Tropa Naranja, who came into the match not only on the heels of a congested schedule that included the Caribbean Football Union tournament but also missing several players called up by the Puerto Rican National Team. After nine NASL matches, though, Coach Adrian Whitbread has the Islanders tied for the NASL lead with the Minnesota Stars on points while having the edge, 10-6, in goal differential over Minnesota.
The Silverbacks earned their first league win Sunday at Edmonton’s Clarke Stadium (they won in USOC play over the Georgia Revolution ten days ago), as they held on to beat FC Edmonton 2-1. The victory gave the Silverbacks a 1-5-4 record on the season, lifting them to playoff contention.
Hungarian goalkeeper Daniel Illyes got the start after Joe Nasco was in goal in the Silverbacks’ Wednesday USOC loss against the Seattle Sounders. Atlanta got on the scoreboard first as Washington state native Ciaran O’Brien scored on a curling free kick at the half hour mark. The Eddies’ Yashir Pinto looked to knot the score shortly afterwards, but his effort hit the post and it was the Silverbacks who gained the next goal, as Shane Moroney headed an O’Brien ball in the 41st minute to put Atlanta up 2-0. Moroney has scored in the last three Silverbacks’ matches.
The Eddies got on the scoreboard early in the second half to the delight of the 2,500 supporters on hand. NASL Player of the Month Shaun Saiko delivered a dangerous free kick that Frenchman Kevin Hatchi was able to latch onto and beat Illyes. Only down a goal, the Eddies looked to come back but despite outshooting the visitors 10-2 and earning four corner kicks in the second half, they were unable to earn any more goals as Atlanta coach Alex Pineda Chacon earned his first NASL head coaching victory despite losing defender Martyn Lancaster to a red card with a bit more than ten minutes left in the match. The Silverbacks’ were also without NASL leading scorer Reinaldo Navia in Sunday’s contest.
The Eddies will look to get back on the good foot at home next Saturday as they host Fort Lauderdale, while the Silverbacks will try to construct a winning streak as they travel to San Antonio for next Saturday’s fixture.
Fort Lauderdale Strikers 3-1 Tampa Bay Rowdies
The Rowdies’ Luke Mulholland gave them a 1-0 lead just past the half hour mark in the sixth NASL edition of the Florida derby Saturday at Lockhart Stadium. The Rowdies’ lead held through halftime and it appeared that again the Rowdies would continue their mastery over their Southern Florida rivals, as the Strikers have yet to win in the series (although they won the preseason friendly between the two clubs earlier this year). The fact that the Strikers have been mired in a six-game league winless streak didn’t boost the hopes of Striker Likers either.
But soccer is played on the field, and the Strikers came back full-force in the second half before the 3,255 fans Saturday to earn all three points and claim bragging rights over their Florida rivals. Abe Thompson began turning the tide in the 52nd minute, as he converted a penalty drawn by fellow attacker Aly Hassan to knot the score. Less than two minutes later, the Strikers had the lead they’d keep when hot rookie Mark Anderson scored with an assist from Jamaican defender Lance Laing. The goal was the fourth of the season for Anderson, the Englishman who attended nearby Barry University.
The Strikers put the icing on the cake at the end of the match, when midfielder Walter Restrepo scored his fourth goal on the season as he dribbled past the opposition to score from a long pass from teammate Andy Herron. Herron, the former Chicago Fire striker who started the Strikers season in fine form before suffering an injury against San Antonio, came on for Hassan in the 58th minute after sitting out the last five matches.
“It’s good for us just to get a win,” said Strikers head coach Daryl Shore. “The fact that it was against Tampa is extra special and great for our fans who come out here every game.” The win lifted the Strikers to fourth place in the league standings, one point ahead of Ricky Hill’s Rowdies. Tampa Bay face the Puerto Rico Islanders in Bayamon next Saturday while the Strikers head north to Edmonton.
San Antonio Scorpions 0-0 Minnesota Stars FC
The Scorpions and Stars both earned a point, keeping their respective undefeated streaks alive in a scoreless draw before over 8,600 fans in San Antonio Saturday evening. For more on the match, see Andrew Arellano’s earlier recap on IMSoccerNews.