NASL Week 14 Recap: Silverbacks Win 2nd of Year, RailHawks, Strikers, Islanders & Edmonton Gain Point
The 2012 NASL season is half over after midweek action centered around the 4th of July holiday and three matches this weekend. Saturday’s results saw the Eric Wynalda-coached Atlanta Silverbacks earn only their second win of the season, shutting out the Minnesota Stars 2-0, while the Carolina RailHawks earned a point with a comeback 3-3 draw against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. In Bayamon Saturday night, FC Edmonton grabbed a road point in their 1-1 draw with the Islanders.
Minnesota Stars FC 0-2 Atlanta Silverbacks
Soccer is a funny game. The Stars were on top of the world earlier in the week after defeating the Puerto Rico Islanders 4-0 on the 4th of July, but three days later saw their world turned upside down as they lost, 2-0, at home to the last place Atlanta Silverbacks.
The Silverbacks got on the board early, as Matt Horth scored his third goal of the season in the 9th minute. From a long ball down the right deep into Stars’ territory, Horth touched the ball to teammate Jahbari Willis, who fed Horth to drive the ball in from short distance. Willis, an Atlanta native who was signed from the Silverbacks’ U-23 NPSL squad, made his professional debut even more successful when in the second half he shook off a tackle from the Stars’ Neil Hlavaty, kept his balance and struck a through ball to a charging Borfor Carr, who converted to clinch the win for the Silverbacks and interim coach Eric Wynalda. Carr also is a product of the Silverbacks’ U-23 squad.
Manny Lagos’ Stars led the Silverbacks in shots, 16-7, and corner kicks 6-1. Credit the Silverbacks’ Hungarian goalkeeper Daniel Illyes for a rare Atlanta clean sheet. For more on the match, see Brian Quarstad’s recap here.
Carolina RailHawks 3-3 Fort Lauderdale Strikers
“It’s not over ’til it’s over” is an oxymoron attributed to baseball great Yogi Berra, but one can imagine that it was on minds of both Carolina RailHawks’ coach Colin Clarke and Daryl Shore of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers as the RailHawks overcame a two-goal deficit in the game’s final minutes to earn a draw with the visitors 3-3.
Saturday’s action in Cary started out in the RailHawks’ favor. Mike Palacio scored in the 13th minute, knocking in a rebound of a Breiner Ortiz shot that hit the goalpost, moments after the RailHawks’ Amir Lowery missed a great chance by shooting over goal. And things continued in Carolina’s favor until the half hour mark. Following a short corner kick by the RailHawks, the Strikers took possession and linked forward to Mark Anderson just past the midfield stripe. The Englishman kept his cool, buying time for teammate Abe Thompson to flash forward and get open. Anderson delivered the ball to Thompson, who showed his experience with a tidy cross from the left to oncoming Darnell King, who one-touched the ball into the RailHawks’ net for his first professional goal.
Though the initial Strikers goal could fairly be said to be against the run of play, their goal two minutes later clearly reversed the game’s momentum. Again working down the left side, midfielder Walter Restrepo took the ball deep, played a give and go with Thompson, and then fired a shot to make the score 2-1 Strikers.
The score remained 2-1 in the Strikers’ favor midway through the second half, when Anderson played a beautiful ball down the right to Darnell King, who strove towards goal before passing off to Restrepo, who converted for his fifth goal of the season. With about twenty minutes left, and a two-goal lead, some viewers may have even switched off to watch another NASL match.
But those viewers missed some late and thrilling fireworks that saw the home team salvage a point. Palacio was hero again as Kupono Low lofted a ball into a crowded Strikers’ box, and somehow, with so many bodies around him, found the back of the net to narrow the score to 3-2 in the 87th minute. Strikers’ sub Abel Gebor had a chance to finish off the ‘Hawks but his late shot hit the far post, and then each team had a chance as Brian Ackley came close for the RailHawks while their goalkeeper, Ray Burse, had to race into no-man’s land to barely beat Abe Thompson on a one-on-one duel. The last moments of the match, though, belonged to Carolina as speedy sub Ty Shipalane fired in a short-distance ball from the right to beat the Strikers’ Matt Glaeser and see Carolina get a positive result.
Puerto Rico Islanders 1-1 FC Edmonton
The Islanders played host in Bayamon to FC Edmonton Saturday night, with the clubs sharing the points as a result of their 1-1 draw.
Puerto Rico had the better run of play early on, challenging FC Edmonton goalkeeper John Smits, subbing for the injured Lance Parker, with an attempt by Hector Ramos in the second minute and another by Gregory Richardson just before the half hour mark. Smits, however, couldn’t contain the Islanders’ Jonathan Fana a few minutes later. The talented Dominican right-footed a low shot to the near post past Smits to give the Islanders a 1-0 lead that they would carry into halftime.
FC Edmonton, though, would find their road point early in the second half, when what looked like a cross by Kyle Porter eluded everyone and went into the Islanders’ net. Despite combining for eleven second half shots, neither team could find another goal.
The draw sees the Islanders remain in second place behind the idle San Antonio Scorpions with a 7-4-4 record, while Harry Sinkgraven’s Eddies are seven points out of the last playoff spot with a 3-4-8 mark. The Eddies were without Shaun Saiko, who leads the NASL in shots taken, because of yellow card accumulation.
If one wonders why the Eddies have slumped following last year’s surprisingly positive start, one can look at two factors. After fifteen matches last season, the Eddies had scored 19 goals, while in 2012 the Eddies have only put 13 goals in opponents’ nets after 15 games. If Edmonton were scoring at last year’s pace, they’d currently be a plus 2 in goal differential, and probably be hanging amongst the Rowdies, Stars and RailHawks in the standings. Also, the Eddies have played the majority of their 2012 fixtures thus far on the road – going into the second half of the season, the Eddies will have eight of their remaining thirteen 2012 NASL matches at home.