Jacksonville Sports Day

NASL: Jacksonville, San Francisco Return Home With Undefeated Records

A quarter of the North American Soccer League (NASL) Spring Season is already in the rearview mirror, and there have been several early trends emerging in the opening weeks. Jacksonville Armada FC and the San Francisco Deltas have flexed their defensive muscles, Indy Eleven has shown its ability to scrap for points, and North Carolina FC has put its potent attack on display.

Heading into Week 6 of the Spring Season, those early-season themes will be put to the test. League-leading Jacksonville plays host to Indy in a battle between two undefeated teams, although the latter has come away with a draw in each of its first four contests. The Deltas, who also have yet to lose, return home with a chance to post a third consecutive shutout in a clash with the visiting New York Cosmos.

In South Florida, Miami FC will look to continue its string of success against FC Edmonton, while North Carolina heads to the Caribbean to take on Puerto Rico FC.

Jacksonville Armada FC vs, Indy Eleven
7 p.m. ET | Saturday, April 29
Hodges Stadium | Jacksonville, Fla.

One of the early surprises of the 2017 season has been the play of Jacksonville Armada FC. The club is unbeaten in its first four games, has only conceded one goal, and sits atop the Spring Season Standings. J.C. Banks has been a catalyst, leading the team with two goals, including the game-tying tally in the club’s 1-1 draw with the New York Cosmos last Saturday. While Banks has been instrumental in the attacking half, veteran Aaron Pitchkolan continues to shine at the other end alongside Mechack Jérôme. Jacksonville has kept two clean sheets at home so far and will look continue that trend against Indy Eleven, but the league leaders face one of the more potent attacking teams in the Boys in Blue.

Led by Justin Braun’s two goals and two assists, Indy has scored in every game aside from last weekend’s scoreless affair with the San Francisco Deltas. What the Boys in Blue will now look to do is accrue meaningful points. The club has earned four draws to begin the year. After setting the record for most regular-season games unbeaten at home (20), Indy heads on the road, where they have been relatively weak. The club has won just once in the last 16 trips away from Carroll Stadium. A win on the road could certainly kick-start the defending Spring Champions’ campaign.

Puerto Rico FC vs. North Carolina FC
7:30 p.m. ET | Saturday, April 29
Juan Ramón Loubriel Stadium | Bayamón, P.R.

Puerto Rico FC is coming off a 2-1 loss to FC Edmonton, but Adrian Whitbread’s side heads back to friendlier confines at Juan Ramón Loubriel Stadium this weekend. The club is unbeaten in its past six league contests at home (2W-4D), scoring eight times during that stretch. Puerto Rico’s attack had success last year against North Carolina FC, finding the back of the net a pair of times in each matchup to come away with a win and a draw. FC Barcelona Academy product Jordi Quintillà scored his first goal for the club in last weekend’s loss, and will now aim to further embed himself into the squad moving forward.

North Carolina FC hits the road once more after nearly snapping its winless streak away from home, which stands at 11 games after last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Miami FC. Goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre’s eight-save, standout performance seemed destined to be rewarded with a clean sheet and all three points until a 95th-minute equalizer was scored by Miami. Another positive sign for North Carolina is the play of Lance Laing, who has rekindled his past form and found the back of the net twice already this season.

Miami FC vs. FC Edmonton
7:30 p.m. ET | Saturday, April 29
Riccardo Silva Stadium | Miami, Fla.

Miami FC has really tested opposing defenses so far this season, taking the most shots (63) by far. But the club has just not been able to find the scoring touch – and a lot of it has had to do with stunning goalkeeping performances or unfriendly posts and crossbars. Miami has an overwhelming lead in the category of most chances created as well – 53 compared to 35 by the San Francisco Deltas, Puerto Rico FC, and Indy Eleven. In three previous contests against FC Edmonton, Miami has taken the maximum points and hasn’t conceded a single goal. Both previous home victories saw Cuban international Ariel Martinez find the back of the net. On the same night Cuban heritage is being celebrated by the club, the midfielder will look to shine against the Eddies once more.

FC Edmonton heads into its contest against Miami with confidence. The club knocked off Puerto Rico FC, 2-1, with Dustin Corea and Dean Shiels getting off the mark this season. To find a result against Miami, the club will need to get back to basics, though. Normally built on rugged defending, the Eddies have had some trouble keeping the ball out of their net this year. The club is tied for the most goals conceded (6) after giving up a mere 21 all of last year.

San Francisco Deltas vs. New York Cosmos
10 p.m. ET | Saturday, April 29
Kezar Stadium | San Francisco, Calif.

After a pair of successive 0-0 draws away from home, the San Francisco Deltas are full of confidence heading into their home clash against the defending champion New York Cosmos. San Francisco is unbeaten through its first four games and the club has only conceded two goals – only bettered by Jacksonville Armada FC’s one. Marc Dos Santos’ side, which has been extremely well-organized, has faced the least amount of shots on goal (32). On the attacking side, home is where the Deltas have shown their best play going forward, defeating North Carolina FC, 3-1, in their last outing in San Francisco. Forward Tom Heinemann, who has scored two goals this year, has had past success finding the back of the net against the Cosmos. Including the postseason, the big striker has scored five times against New York.

The Cosmos have been tough to break down themselves during their away contests, keeping two clean sheets away from MCU Park. Goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer made eight saves in the club’s last road contest – a 2-0 win against Miami FC. Since the beginning of last year, the Cosmos have also been the league’s most successful side on the road. The club has won seven of its last 18 regular-season contests outside of New York.

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