NASL Week 24 Recap: Scorpions Upset by RailHawks, Islanders and Rowdies Climb in Standings with Wins
As the NASL regular season winds down, there were two Saturday matches this weekend and another two on Sunday. On Saturday night the Atlanta Silverbacks continued their fine stretch of defensive soccer, earning all three points at home against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers while the Puerto Rico Islanders shut down the Minnesota Stars FC 2-0 at Estadio Juan Ramon Loubriel. On Sunday afternoon, the Tampa Bay Rowdies defeated FC Edmonton by a 3-0 score at Clarke Stadium while Carolina came up with a big upset of San Antonio who could have claimed the regular season Championship with a victory. It was only the 3rd loss of the season suffered by San Antonio at Heroes Stadium. Meanwhile, the win by Puerto Rico draws them 6 points off San Antonio’s mark and Tampa Bay’s victory draws them within 3.
Atlanta Silverbacks 1-0 Fort Lauderdale Strikers
Though they are eliminated from the playoffs, the Atlanta Silverbacks are giving their fans something to feel good about as they again played good defense and were rewarded with a 1-0 win over the Fort Lauderdale Strikers at Silverbacks Stadium Saturday. The Silverbacks outshot the visitors 26-8, including a first half advantage of 16 shots to one by the Strikers. Atlanta goalkeeper Joe Nasco only had to make one save in earning the clean sheet, as the Silverbacks have allowed only two goals in their last six matches, and have shutouts by three different goalkeepers in that span.
The Silverbacks have gained seven out of a possible nine points in their last three matches, with forward Matt Horth scoring all four of Atlanta’s goals in those three games. On Saturday Horth’s goal in the 11th minute, his tenth of the season, was all that the Silverbacks needed against the Strikers. Midfielder Lucas Paulini had the assist on Horth’s goal.
The Strikers played the last fifteen minutes of the match down a man, as Alfonso Motagalvan received two yellow cards in succession for dissent that didn’t abate after he received the first yellow. The Strikers, already missing leading goalscorer Mark Anderson, were unable to break through and fell to 9-8-10 as only forward Andy Herron was able to muster more than one shot for the Floridians. The Silverbacks gained their third home win of the season, equaling their total points gained on the road in 2012.
Puerto Rico Islanders 2-0 Minnesota Stars FC
The Islanders, beaten 4-0 by the Stars in Minnesota Tuesday, turned the tables on the visitors as they shut out the Stars 2-0 in Bayamon Saturday, improving their home mark to 8-3-2 for the season. The Stars, who clinched the final playoff spot Tuesday, fell to 8-10-9 on the year and have only won two road matches.
The Islanders got their goals from defender Anthony Vasquez, who headed in a David Foley free kick in the 21st minute while the veteran Foley himself sealed the deal with an 85th minute goal. Islanders’ goalkeeper Richard Martin made four saves en route to his clean sheet. For more on the match, see Brian Quarstad’s earlier recap on IMSoccerNews.
FC Edmonton 0-3 Tampa Bay Rowdies
The Rowdies tightened their grasp on the the league’s second place first round playoff bye following their 3-0 win over FC Edmonton. Ricky Hill’s Rowdies lead the Islanders by three points in the race for second place, with the Islanders having only one regular season game remaining while the Rowdies have two games left. The Rowdies are now also only three points out of first place following the Scorpions’ home loss Sunday evening to the RailHawks.
The Rowdies opened the scoring in the 21st minute, when veteran Daniel Antoniuk headed in a free kick from Luke Mulholland. They took a 2-0 lead into intermission when Mike Ambersley scored his sixth goal of the season, assisted by midfielder Keith Savage. Mulholland added the game’s final goal early in the second half, with Antoniuk playing the provider role. Rowdies’ keeper Jeff Attinella recorded his tenth shutout of the season after saving four shots from the Eddies. Edmonton continue to have difficulties knocking in goals, having scored only 24 on the season with two games remaining. Kyle Porter led Edmonton with four shots.
The Rowdies finish off the season at home against the RailHawks on Wednesday and away at Cary next Saturday. The Eddies will look for a win next Sunday in their season finale at home against the Strikers.
San Antonio Scorpions 1-2 Carolina RailHawks
Colin Clarke’s RailHawks sandwiched a first half goal from defender Gale Agbossoumonde and one in the second half by Ty Shipalane around a goal by NASL leading scorer Pablo Campos to earn all three points on the road at Heroes Stadium Sunday evening. The road win is the fourth of the season for Carolina, second best in the league to the five road wins earned by San Antonio and Tampa Bay this season.
Veteran Floyd Franks provided the assist on both Carolina goals. Franks, who joined the Vancouver Whitecaps over the offseason, returned to the RailHawks after being waived by Vancouver at the end of June. Shipalane, who has a penchant for game-winning goals, also came back to the RailHawks this season after playing last season in South Africa.
Carolina backup goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald had to make nine saves in the match to get the win for Colin Clarke’s club as the Scorpions outshot the RailHawks 13-5 in the second half, searching for the elusive equalizer that never came. The streaky RailHawks are now 4-1-1 in their last six matches, playing well as the playoffs loom just over the horizon. The Scorpions will try to win the regular season title in their inaugural season as they finish up on the road in Atlanta Wednesday and play their regular season finale next Sunday evening hosting the Minnesota Stars.