Jacksonville Sports Day

NASL: FC Edmonton, Jacksonville Armada FC Headline Week 5 Performances

Through five weeks of the North American Soccer League (NASL) Spring Season, Jacksonville Armada FC is still on top. The club grinded out a draw on the road against the New York Cosmos to maintain its lead atop the standings thanks to a second-half equalizer from midfielder J.C. Banks.

Elsewhere, FC Edmonton grabbed its first victory of the 2017 season, topping Puerto Rico FC at Clarke Stadium. The two other games on Saturday night ended in draws – one of which came in exciting fashion. Miami FC received a stoppage-time equalizer from defender Robert Baggio Kcira to tie North Carolina FC, while Indy Eleven and the San Francisco Deltas played to a scoreless stalemate in Indianapolis.

Indy Eleven 0, San Francisco Deltas 0

Indy Eleven extended its home unbeaten streak to 20 regular-season games at Carroll Stadium on Saturday afternoon, setting an NASL Modern Era in a 0-0 draw with the San Francisco Deltas.

The last 15 minutes of the game were action-packed as each side’s goalkeeper made key saves to keep the score even. Deltas midfielder Kyle Bekker sent a shot from distance that was destined for the top corner, but Indy goalkeeper Jon Busch was able to tip the ball over the crossbar in the 75th minute. Moments later, Deltas shot-stopper Romuald Peiser was called into action, palming Eamon Zayed’s header from point-blank range over the bar.

Indy had one more good look at goal when its leading scorer, Justin Braun, fired from the top of the box in the third minute of stoppage time, but his attempt kissed off the outside of the post after scooting past a diving Peiser.

The draw was Indy’s fourth of the year, while the Deltas have now earned consecutive scoreless draws on the road.

New York Cosmos 1, Jacksonville Armada FC 1

League-leading Jacksonville Armada FC put forth a strong effort at Brooklyn’s MCU Park, taking home a point against the New York Cosmos in a 1-1 draw on Saturday night.

Jacksonville entered Saturday night’s game having not conceded a single goal so far this season, and in the eighth minute, the Cosmos nearly ended the visitors’ impressive defensive streak. New York midfielder Walter Restrepo beat visiting goalkeeper Caleb Patterson-Sewell, but saw his shot cleared off the line by Armada FC defender Mechack Jerome.

Restrepo would help the Cosmos find the breakthrough 14 minutes later, though. The Colombian veteran probed the Armada FC back line before finding Spanish midfielder Javi Marquez, whose shot found its way through traffic and into the back of the net.

The visitors nearly leveled the score in the 62nd minute when Armada FC midfielder J.C. Banks played in a picture-perfect cross that his teammate, Zach Steinberger, pushed just wide of the post.

Jacksonville’s persistence paid off, however, as Banks took matters in his own hands and blasted a shot past Cosmos goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer in the 67th minute.

The Cosmos were on the back foot for the remainder of the game, but were able to hold off first-place Armada FC to take home a share of the spoils.

Miami FC 1, North Carolina FC 1

Robert Baggio Kcira rescued a point for Miami FC when he rifled a shot off the post and into the net in the final minute of stoppage time in a 1-1 draw with North Carolina FC at Riccardo Silva Stadium on Saturday night.

Miami has been among the league’s most dangerous attacking teams so far this season, but their presence in the final third hasn’t necessarily led to goals. This time, it was Brian Sylvestre standing in Miami FC’s way. The North Carolina goalkeeper came up big in the 29th minute to deny Miami forward Enzo Rennella, who blasted a shot from the top of the penalty area.

Sylvestre once again stood tall in the 53rd minute, stonewalling forward Jaime Chavez from close range. The former U.S. youth international’s incredible play between the posts was finally rewarded in the 63rd minute. Midfielder Tiyi Shipalane’s cross found its way teammate Lance Laing, who was waiting at the far post to tap the ball home to give NCFC a 1-0 lead.

The hosts came inches away from equalizing in the 81st minute through Brazilian forward Stefano Pinho. The ball fell to him five feet from the goal line, but NCFC’s James Marcelin slid in to clear the ball off the line and keep the visitors ahead.

In the end, Miami’s effort was probably worth at least a point, and Alessandro Nesta’s side would get exactly that. Kcira scored from an impossible angle in the fifth minute of stoppage time to earn Miami a point in a thrilling 1-1 draw.

FC Edmonton 2, Puerto Rico FC 1

One of last season’s most impressive teams, FC Edmonton, is officially in the win column after a 2-1 victory over visiting Puerto Rico FC at Clarke Stadium on Saturday night.

The first half was relatively quiet, but the Eddies showed their intentions early when forward Tomi Ameobi forced Puerto Rico goalkeeper Trevor Spangenberg into a save in the sixth minute.

A mistake at the back from Eddies goalkeeper Chris Konopka looked to have gifted a goal to Puerto Rico in the 52nd minute, but forward Pito Ramos saw his wide-open shot roll off the post and away to safety.

Salvadoran international Dustin Corea would open the scoring in the 61st minute with a well-hit effort from outside the box. The crafty midfielder took a pass from Ben Fisk and blasted a dipping shot that eluded Spangenberg.

Eight minutes later, the Eddies grabbed a second goal. Former Rangers FC midfielder Dean Shiels sent in a dangerous cross from the left flank that ended up finding its way into the back of the net. Ameobi was in the area to impact Spangenberg’s positioning, and Shiels’ cross bounced into the net to double the hosts’ lead.

Despite a late goal from Puerto Rico substitute Jordi Quintilla in stoppage time, the Eddies back line, which was so strong in 2016, finished the job to clinch all three points in front of their home fans.

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