NASL Week 11: Scorpions Gain Top Spot with Stars and Islanders Home Losses
Father’s Day weekend saw a full slate of NASL matches Saturday, with the San Antonio Scorpions moving into the top of the standings following their 2-0 win in Puerto Rico. The Carolina RailHawks continue their winning ways as they defeated the Atlanta Silverbacks before a big crowd in Hotlanta, while both Florida teams bounced back to gain three points apiece Saturday.
Puerto Rico Islanders 0-2 San Antonio Scorpions
Generally when a soccer team comes to the island of Puerto Rico to play the Islanders, the guests get a nice tropical trip but come home empty handed. Last season the Islanders were undefeated at home, and this season, through seven home matches, the Islanders had only lost once. Until Saturday evening.
In rode the Texans, those new kids on the block from San Antonio, for the heavyweight matchup with the first place Islanders. They not only defeated the Islanders 2-0 in Bayamon but took first place from the Orange Troop, too. The Scorpions now lead NASL with 22 points, having only lost once in eleven league games, with the Islanders now trailing by two points in second place.
Not that the Islanders lacked for effort. A free kick blasted by David Foley in the 13th minute was just wide of the Scorpions’ goal, and later in the first 45 minutes San Antonio goalkeeper Daryl Sattler made a huge save on a point-blank attempt by Jarad Van Schaik, the young Islander who scored in last week’s match. But it was the visitors who got the only first-half goal when Esteban Bayona gobbled up a rebound off Islanders’ keeper Richard Martin from a Walter Ramirez shot to give the Scorpions a 1-0 lead that would last the six minutes until intermission, despite the Scorpions losing Ramirez minutes later to a second yellow card.
Playing with a man disadvantage this season in the NASL hasn’t seemed to be as detrimental as it would seem, and although the Islanders outshot their Texas visitors 9-2 in the second half (the Scorpions had only four shots on the night) it was the Scorpions who notched the game’s only other goal. Striker Pablo Campos pulled level with Atlanta’s Reinaldo Navia for the NASL scoring lead as he scored his sixth goal of the campaign at the 70th minute when the Brazilian eluded an Islanders defender and got his shot on frame. San Antonio’s Jonathan Greenfield had a late chance hit the post while the Islanders’ Foley missed his opportunity to halve the Scorpions’ lead when his penalty kick attempt in the 86th minute hit the goal frame. Sattler earned his sixth clean sheet of the season.
This wasn’t the first time the Scorpions fashioned a result while playing a man down. “We’ve been in this situation before,” Scorpions head coach Tim Hankinson said. “There was no panic, just execution under the circumstances. At the beginning of the season, we weren’t ready to fight for each other but now we have a team that fights for each other.” He certainly has such a team, and they will try to tighten their grasp on the NASL’s top berth next Saturday in Tampa Bay, while the Islanders will try to prey on the struggling Silverbacks next Saturday in Atlanta.
Atlanta Silverbacks 0-2 Carolina RailHawks
A crowd of 6,000 fans in Atlanta’s Silverbacks Stadium saw the home team kick off in sunlight but end in darkness as they couldn’t contain the rising Carolina RailHawks, who went home with all three points courtesy of their two goal win.
Coach Alex Pineda Chacon’s Silverbacks started out strong, as both midfielder Danilo Turcios and defender Jose Burciaga Jr. found opportunities on the RailHawks’ goal in the first sixteen minutes of play, with Turcios’ kick going over the crossbar and Burciaga’s header also going over the top of the frame. Silverbacks second year professional Matt Horth also had an attempt clear the crossbar in the 41st minute.
Unfortunately for Atlanta, their inability to convert chances allowed the RailHawks to take a lead late in the half as Austen Da Luz created a turnover and played a great ball for former MLS’er Zack Schilawski, who netted his second goal of the season for a 1-0 RailHawks halftime lead.
The second half saw the Silverbacks attempt to equalize, as each side had six shots, but Carolina’s Ray Burse came up big on an attempt on Borfor Carr of Atlanta to keep the home team off the board before the RailHawks doubled up when Ty Shipalane created a scoring chance for Brian Ackley, the 25-year-old Cary native. Burse denied headers by Martyn Lancaster and David Santamaria late to earn the shutout and boost the RailHawks record to 3-5-4 under coach Colin Clarke, while the Silverbacks remain stuck in the NASL cellar despite earning results in half their league contests in 2012.
Earlier in the week the Silverbacks obtained defender Andrew Duran on loan from the Seattle Sounders for the remainder of the season while also signing Silverbacks Reserves Jahbari Willis. Duran was a Sounders first-round SuperDraft pick out of Creighton University who helped the Bluejays hand out 19 shutouts in 24 2012 matches. Willis played four seasons at Florida International University as a holding midfielder and has scored twice in two matches with the NPSL Silverbacks Reserves.
Fort Lauderdale Strikers 1-0 FC Edmonton
The Strikers evened their record at 4-4-4 Saturday evening at Lockhart Stadium in front of 2,600 fans with a 1-0 win over FC Edmonton. The game’s only goal came courtesy of Costa Rican forward Andy Herron in the 68th minute of play. The Strikers also got payback for their loss in Edmonton last weekend.
The first half of the match was scoreless despite eleven shots and six corner kicks accumulated by the two teams. The Strikers’ forward Leopoldo Morales, on loan from Mexican side Tigres UANL, suffered an ugly leg injury in the 22nd minute following an innocent-looking collision with the Eddies’ Kenny Caceros. Patrick Otte replaced Morales on the pitch.
Herron’s 68th minute goal was second-nature for the veteran striker, as midfielder Walter Restrepo sent a low cross to the far post which the hustling Herron easily put past Edmonton goalkeeper Lance Parker. It was Herron’s fourth goal of the season in only 414 minutes on the pitch, while the assist was Restrepo’s fifth of 2012. Matt Glaeser earned the clean sheet for the Strikers, making three saves in the match. Michael Cox led the Eddies in shots with five while Mark Anderson had four shots to lead the Strikers.
“All week we talked about getting balls across the face of goal and guys in the box,” said Strikers head coach Daryl Shore. “It finally paid off in the second half with Andy.” The Strikers will try to build a winning streak with Herron back from injury as they travel to Minnesota next weekend while Harry Sinkgraven’s Edmonton club will look to gain their fourth win of 2012 in Carolina next Saturday.
Minnesota Stars FC 1-2 Tampa Bay Rowdies
The Stars suffered their first NASL defeat of the 2012 last weekend in their 10th match of the season, and suffered a second loss in a row, and their first at home, before over 2,900 fans at NSC Stadium this weekend. Martin Nunez gave Manny Lagos’ Stars an early lead in the 9th minute of play, but veteran D2 midfielder Tsuyoshi Yoshitake knotted the score late in the first half before another D2 vet, Keith Savage, produced the game-winner for Coach Ricky Hill and the Rowdies in the 87th minute, assisted by Yoshitake. The Rowdies led in shots 11-10 and in corner kicks. For more on the match, click here.