NASL Week 17 Recap: The Pablo Campos Show and Rowdies Continue to Roll
Do you like goals? There were 18 goals scored in four NASL games this weekend, four alone by the Scorpions’ league-leading striker, Pablo Campos. Do you enjoy good defending? Three NASL goalkeepers earned shutouts this weekend, while a midfielder denied an opponent’s certain score with a header from the goalline. Each home side was victorious this weekend in NASL action. Three games were played Saturday, with the San Antonio Scorpions embarrassing the Carolina RailHawks 8-0, while the Puerto Rico Islanders bounced back with a 1-0 win over the visiting Minnesota Stars and the Tampa Bay Rowdies stuck to their winning formula by beating FC Edmonton 1-0. A Friday night barn burner in South Florida saw the Fort Lauderdale Strikers extinguish the Atlanta Silverbacks 5 -3 in a goalscoring fireworks show between the two clubs.
San Antonio Scorpions 8-0 Carolina RailHawks
One rarely sees scorelines like this in the beautiful game, but Tim Hankinson ‘s San Antonio Scorpions are proving that they are an elite NASL team in their first year of existence, while striker Pablo Campos continues to prove that he is the elite goalscorer in the NASL this season. The win over the RailHawks at Heroes Field kept the Scorpions in first place, two points ahead of the surging Tampa Bay Rowdies, while boosting their goal differential mark to a +18, three times more than the club with the next highest goal differential, the Puerto Rico Islanders.
For Colin Clarke’s RailHawks, who have been playing reasonably well of late, this was a night to quickly forget: Much like a day at the office when a fresh coffee stain on one’s brand new white shirt right away segues into having to settle for a bag of stale vending machine chips because the favorite lunch spot was unusually crowded, with some extra fun added by being on the receiving end of a butt-chewing because you forgot to hit ‘send’ on the report you finished Friday. For more on the one-sided contest, see Andrew Arellano’s recent IMS report.
Puerto Rico Islanders 1-0 Minnesota Stars FC
The Islanders got back to winning ways with a 1-0 win over the Stars in their last match at SoccerPlex Bayamon Saturday before over 1,300 fans. The win keeps them on pace for the league title, four points behind leaders San Antonio and two behind Tampa Bay. Islanders captain Noah Delgado scored the game’s only goal shortly after intermission while goalkeeper Richard Martin lowered his GAA for the 2012 season to an even 1.00.
Manny Lagos’ Stars held a 6-1 advantage in shots after 45 minutes, forcing three first half saves from Martin. The Stars were led in shots in the match by Simone Bracalello, and fall to 5th place in the league standings, one point behind the Strikers, with a 7-5-7 mark. Adrian Whitbread’s Islanders begin another season of CONCACAF Champions League play Wednesday August 1 against Metapan.
For further information on Saturday’s match, see Brian Quarstad’s earlier recap on IMSoccerNews.
Tampa Bay Rowdies 1-0 FC Edmonton
After Saturday night’s win in St. Petersburg, the Rowdies have now beaten FC Edmonton three times this season by identical 1-0 scores. Tampa Bay have won five home matches in a row and have pulled away from the bottom five teams in the league standings.
Former Edmonton striker Daniel Antoniuk provided the only goal of the match at the end of the first half, while teammate Mike Ambersley earned his seventh assist. Rowdies’ keeper Jeff Attinella earned his sixth clean sheet of 2012 as the second-year pro from USF has not allowed a goal in the last 315 minutes of league play. Saturday’s game-winner was the sixth goal of the season for the Philadelphia-born Antoniuk, double his total of three nettings last season with the Eddies.
Despite the low final score, there was no absence of offense in the match played before over 3,100 fans at Al Lang Stadium. Both teams combined for 35 shots, forcing Attinella and his Edmonton counterpart, John Smits, into a total of 15 saves.
Coach Ricky Hill has his club purring in attack, as Antoniuk almost had an early score on the first of his five shots in the game with a header from a Mike Ambersley cross. Ambersley himself had a 17th minute shot go wide, while Smits handled a dangerous Matt Clare cross and Luke Mulholland’s shot in the 25th minute sailed just over the crossbar.
But when a team is putting together a solid stretch of wins, they have to play solid defense, too. Long-time Bristol Rovers midfielder Stuart Campbell came to the aid of his goalkeeper when he headed a sure score from Edmonton defender Paul Hamilton to safety.
Despite a total of 15 shots, including four from Kyle Porter, Harry Sinkgraven’s Eddies again suffered another hard luck defeat and now lie eight points behind the RailHawks for the last NASL playoff spot with ten matches to play. The Eddies have scored a league-low 15 goals in their 18 fixtures thus far in 2012. The hot Rowdies will visit the shell-shocked Carolina RailHawks next Saturday in Cary, looking to keep pressure on first place San Antonio, while the Eddies are home for a Saturday night match against the Minnesota Stars.
Fort Lauderdale Strikers 5-3 Atlanta Silverbacks
Veteran Hungarian goalkeeper Daniel Illyes got the nod in goal Friday night for the Silverbacks over rookie Joe Nasco, but may have wished he hadn’t as the Strikers strafed the Silverbacks defense for a total of 27 shots in their 5-3 win at Lockhart Stadium. Illyes was forced to make 10 saves in the match, but five shots went past him as the Strikers had their biggest goalscoring match since last year’s opening playoff round, also against FC Edmonton.
“We love playing at home in front of our great fan base,” said Strikers head coach Daryl Shore. “We’re fortunate to be able to train on this field and now we have to take this win and come back, regroup, and head up there to try and get points on the road.”
This is a match the 3,100 Striker Likers on hand had to love in return because the five goals scored came despite the absence of veteran striker Andy Herron and only a three-minute cameo appearance by formidable goalscorer/assistant coach Abe Thompson. Instead, the fireworks ignited Friday night by the up and down Strikers came from their young guns – rookies Mark Anderson and Aly Hassan, with Strikers sophomore Walter Restrepo, who just turned 24 in June, notching a goal and exciting alumni Paulo Jr, back on loan from Real Salt Lake, getting on the scoreboard too. The talented quartet combined for an incredible 23 shots in the match.
But the Silverbacks have some young guns of their own. The Brazilian-born Mendes brothers, Paolo and Pedro, were brought in recently by interim Atlanta coach Eric Wynalda, and both scored goals in Friday’s match as they combined for six of Atlanta’s 12 shots taken. Second-year pro Matt Horth, after a slow start to the current campaign, notched his fifth strike of the year.
Unfortunately for the Silverbacks, with the Strikers holding a narrow 4-3 lead after 75 minutes, their efforts to equalize left them vulnerable, and Shore’s youngsters iced the game late as Scott Lorenz found Restrepo with a long pass which the midfielder put past Illyes for the final 5-3 result. Despite the positives displayed by the Silverbacks since Wynalda’s interim appointment as head coach, the Atlantans still have the worse defensive mark in the NASL, having allowed an ugly total of 40 goals in 19 league matches. Atlanta will have a quick opportunity for revenge, however, as they host the Strikers next Saturday at Silverbacks Stadium.