Jacksonville Sports Day

NASL: Teams Look To Make Up Ground With First-Place Ottawa Idle

NEW YORK – With league-leading Ottawa Fury FC off this weekend, several clubs can make up ground in the North American Soccer League (NASL) Fall Season Standings. 

Week 8 action starts with Saturday night matches in Atlanta, Carolina, Tampa Bay, and San Antonio and ends with an afternoon matinee north of the border in Edmonton.

Leading the way on Saturday is a trio of matches with 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff times. The Atlanta Silverbacks hosts Indy Eleven, the Carolina RailHawks welcome the New York Cosmos, and Minnesota United FC pays a visit to the Tampa Bay Rowdies. At 8:30 p.m. ET, the San Antonio Scorpions take the field against visiting Jacksonville Armada FC. 

Sunday’s lone match will take place at Clarke Field, where FC Edmonton plays host to the Fort Lauderdale Strikers at 4 p.m. ET.

San Antonio Scorpions vs. Jacksonville Armada FC
8:30 p.m. ET | Saturday, August 22
Toyota Field | San Antonio, Texas
Watch | ESPN3 (National – U.S.), NASL.com (National – Canada), CW17 (Local- Jacksonville)

The defending NASL Champions are certainly not where they were expecting to be at this point of the season. Inconsistent form has the Scorpions (1-2-4, 5 points) at the bottom of the Fall Season Standings. The only bright spot has been the play of the league’s leading scorer, Omar Cummings (10 goals), and Billy Forbes (six assists). Up next is the Armada FC, who has yet to crack the win column on the road.

Jacksonville (3-1-4, 10 points) is brimming with confidence after two wins last week – 3-0 against the RailHawks and 1-0 over the Silverbacks. Jaime Castrill√≥n has found his goalscoring touch, notching the game-winners in each of the club’s victories last week. The Armada FC has been strong in front of goal with Jemal Johnson, Pascal Millien, and Alhassane Keita combining for 16 goals, but it’s the recent string of shutouts that will prove pivotal for the seventh-place side if it is to going to continue its ascent up the Fall Season and Combined Standings.

Atlanta Silverbacks vs. Indy Eleven
7:30 p.m. ET | Saturday, August 22
Atlanta Silverbacks Park | Atlanta, Ga.
Watch | ESPN3 (National – U.S.), NASL.com (National – Canada)

Having recently topped Indy at Carroll Stadium, the Silverbacks will look to replicate that gameplan when they host the Boys in Blue this Saturday. Atlanta (4W-2D-3L, 14 points) combined strong defensive work with a beautiful goal from Pedro Mendes to take all three points in the last meeting between the two sides. The Silverbacks continue to be led by Mendes and his talented attacking partners, Junior Burgos and Jaime Chavez. The trio have combined for 13 of the club’s 14 Fall Season tallies.

Indy (2-2-4, 8 points) heads to Atlanta fresh off a 2-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Wednesday. Dane Richards scored his first goal for the club, while Erick Norales converted a gorgeous free kick for his third goal of the campaign. The win on Wednesday snapped the club’s five-game winless streak, and the Boys in Blue should have a renewed level of confidence heading into their clash against Atlanta.

Carolina RailHawks vs. New York Cosmos
7:30 p.m. ET | Saturday, August 22
WakeMed Soccer Park | Cary, N.C.
Watch | ESPN3 (National – U.S.), ONE World Sports (National – U.S.), NASL.com (National – Canada)

Although Colin Clarke’s side is heading into the weekend on the heels of a pair of shutout losses last week, the RailHawks, should still have some confidence ahead of Saturday’s match against New York. Carolina (2-2-4, 8 points) is always tough to beat at home, having lost just once at WakeMed Soccer Park in 2015. On top of that, the Cosmos have never won in four all-time visits to Carolina.  

New York has been in a fine run of form in recent weeks after getting off to a slow start in the Fall Season. The Cosmos (3-3-1, 12 points) currently boast a five-game unbeaten run, and Leo Fernandes continues to shine as the team’s leading marksman with six goals on the season. The Cardiac Cosmos made an appearance on their last visit to Cary, N.C., overturning a two-goal deficit in stoppage time to earn a 3-3 draw.  

Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. Minnesota United FC
7:30 p.m. ET | Saturday, August 22
Al Lang Stadium | St. Petersburg, Fla.
Watch | ESPN3 (National – U.S.), NASL.com (National – Canada), Great 38 (Local – Tampa Bay/St. Pete), KSTC45-TV (Local – Twin Cities)

The Rowdies have hit hard times since their second-place finish in the Spring Season, and the club’s dip in form has prompted a coaching change. Tampa Bay will no longer be under the direction of Thomas Rongen, who was relieved of his duties on Friday. The Rowdies (2-1-5, 7 points) have had trouble scoring of late, with only eight goals in their eight matches. Forward Maicon Santos, who leads the club in goals with seven, needs some help in the attack, and that could come from a player like Georgi Hristov. The Bulgarian leads the team in assists with seven this year, and he could play a crucial role for the club moving forward. Tampa Bay should receive a boost with several players – Richie Menjivar, Darwin Espinal, and Rich Balchan – recently returning to the lineup.

Their opponent, Minnesota United, isn’t experiencing the same goalscoring issues. In fact, the club has scored at least one goal in its last 16 league matches. Christian Ramirez has scored in seven straight matches and should he find the net on Saturday night, he’ll pull even with Etienne Barbara’s Modern Era record for longest scoring streak. The Loons (3-3-2, 12 points), however, have been susceptible to conceding goals, having only managed to keep one clean sheet in the Fall Season.

FC Edmonton vs. Fort Lauderdale Strikers
4 p.m. ET | Sunday, August 23
Clarke Field | Edmonton, Alberta
Watch | ESPN3 (National – U.S.) City TV (Local – Edmonton), SFL-TV (Local – Fort Lauderdale)

FC Edmonton put together a dominant performance last Sunday, defeating the Railhawks, 3-0. Dustin Corea found the back of the net for the first time since signing with the Eddies, while Tomi Ameobi and Lance Laing continued their impressive campaigns, each adding their seventh goals of the year. Edmonton (4-2-3, 15) is as healthy, and as strong, as it has been all season and will want to build on its momentum against the Strikers.

After picking up an important win against rival Tampa Bay last weekend, Fort Lauderdale (2-4-2, 10 points) heads to Clarke Field with some confidence. Visiting Edmonton is never an easy task, but the Strikers have had better luck than most historically, carrying a record of 3-3-3. The Strikers, however, dropped the most recent meeting in Edmonton, 3-2, back in the Spring Season. Fort Lauderdale will need Stefano Pinho, who has seven goals on the season, to continue leading the attack against what will be a tough Eddies back line. 

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