Jacksonville Sports Day

NASL: Armada Play to Draw at Home Against Edmonton

The New York Cosmos bolstered their lead atop the North American Soccer League (NASL) Fall Season and Combined Standings after scoring a pair of goals in quick succession on the road against the Carolina RailHawks on Wednesday night.

In the Fall Season title race, FC Edmonton pulled even on points with second-place Indy Eleven after a draw in Jacksonville, but lost ground on the league-leading Cosmos. By keeping the Armada FC off the board, goalkeeper Matt VanOekel equaled an NASL record with his 14th clean sheet.

The Cosmos now lead the Eleven by seven points in both the Fall Season and Combined Standings as the race to The Championship, the league’s four-team postseason tournament, heads for the home stretch.

In other Wednesday night action, Miami FC improved its stock in the postseason chase, using late-game heroics to grab an important three points. Puerto Rico FC dented Fort Lauderdale’s aspirations to reach The Championship, coming from behind to secure the club’s second victory in front of its home support.

Jacksonville Armada FC 0, FC Edmonton 0
FC Edmonton’s stout and organized defense supported goalkeeper Matt VanOekel as he tied an NASL record with his 14th clean sheet of the year in the draw against Jacksonville Armada FC at Community First Park.

Jacksonville (2W-7D-7L, 13 points Fall; 3-11-12, 20 Combined) stretched its home unbeaten streak to five games. The Armada FC’s Charles Eloundou, who had scored a goal in three straight games, was dangerous throughout the contest. He came close with about seven minutes left, but his shot from six yards was cleared by the Eddies’ defense. FC Edmonton (7-6-3, 27 Fall; 12-8-6, 44 Combined) had less than 40 percent of possession and allowed Jacksonville five shots on goal, but still managed to move into a second-place tie with Indy Eleven, on points, in the Fall Season Standings.

After a five-game winning streak, the Eddies are 0-5-2 in their last six games with only two goals scored. Their last win was on Aug. 28.

New York Cosmos 2, Carolina RailHawks 0
New York scored two goals in a one-minute span midway through the second half and defeated the Carolina RailHawks, 2-0, at WakeMed Soccer Park. With the win, the Cosmos extended their leads in both the Fall Season and Combined Standings.

Carolina (5W-4D-7L, 19 points Fall; 9-6-11, 33 Combined) had the best chance of the first half, even though New York (10-4-3, 34 Fall; 16-4-7, 52 Combined) carried the majority of the play. Matt Watson stretched, but could not reach James Marcelin’s cross in the 34th minute with an open goal in front of him. Early in the second half, a shot by New York’s Andres Flores seemed ticketed for the back of the net before Carolina defender Kareem Moses dove to deflect it wide.

A foul in the penalty area on Sebastian Guenzatti gave Adam Moffat an opportunity from the penalty spot and he made no mistake, scoring his eighth goal of the year, in the 71st minute. Seconds later, the Cosmos broke on the attack with Yasmani Duk finding Ruben Bover with a pass in space. Bover smacked a left-footed shot from distance that beat Carolina goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre low to the near post for a 2-0 lead. The loss ended the RailHawks’ nine-game home unbeaten streak whilee Cosmos’ record on the road improved to 4-2-7 this year.

Miami FC 2, Ottawa Fury FC 1
Miami FC ended a two-game losing streak and picked up valuable points in the Combined Standings with a 2-1 win over Ottawa Fury FC at Ocean Bank Field. The loss ended Ottawa’s seven-game unbeaten streak.

In the first half, Jonny Steele’s first-time pass sprang Michael Lahoud in on the Ottawa (5-5-7, 20 Fall; 7-8-12, 29 Combined) goal for a shot that went under Romuald Peiser to give Miami (8-4-4, 28 Fall; 9-8-9, 35 Combined) a 1-0 lead in the 35th minute. Ottawa’s Giuseppe Gentile evened the score with a goal in the 44th, scoring for the third straight game.

With the game seemingly headed for a 1-1 deadlock, Miami FC snatched the win to move one point behind Minnesota for fourth place in the Combined Standings, tied on points with Tampa Bay. Hunter Freeman’s free kick from the left flank deep into second-half stoppage time found the head of Enzo Rennella for the game-winner.

Miami hosted a pregame tribute to honor Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who passed away following a boating accident earlier this week.

Puerto Rico FC 2, Fort Lauderdale Strikers 1
Puerto Rico FC overcame an early deficit to score two unanswered goals and win its first meeting with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, 2-1, at Juan Ramón Loubriel Stadium.

Fort Lauderdale (4-5-7, 17 Fall; 8-8-10, 32 Combined) wasted little time in taking the lead fewer than two minutes into the game from a misplay by Puerto Rico (3-8-6, 17 Fall; 3-8-6 17 Combined) goalkeeper Trevor Spangenberg, who muffed an attempted clearance. The ball fell to Pascal Millien, whose cross was chested home by Amauri. It was his fourth goal in his eighth game for the Strikers. Before the end of the first half, Tyler Rudy was in the right place at the right time to side foot a rebound to tie the score.

Just 10 minutes after entering the game as a second-half substitute, Bljedi Bardic – making only his second appearance for the club – gave Puerto Rico FC the lead. He took a pass from Héctor Ramos and first-timed a left-footed shot low and past Fort Lauderdale goalkeeper Bruno to the near post.

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