Jacksonville Sports Day

NASL: Fall Season Kickoff Gives Fresh Start To Clubs Vying For Postseason Spots

The North American Soccer League (NASL) Fall Season gets underway this weekend, kicking off the chase for the final three spots in The Championship, the league’s four-team postseason tournament. Miami FC, which won the Spring Season title, already has a place in the postseason.

The Spring Season Champions kick off the second half of the year in New York against the Cosmos as the club looks to continue its scintillating form at MCU Park on Saturday night. Elsewhere on Saturday, North Carolina FC and Puerto Rico FC will square off at Sahlen’s Stadium.

On Sunday, FC Edmonton welcomes an in-form Indy Eleven side to Clarke Stadium, while the San Francisco Deltas pay a visit to Jacksonville Armada FC.

Below is a preview of each Fall Season opener:

New York Cosmos vs. Miami FC
7 p.m. ET | Saturday, July 29
MCU Park | Brooklyn, N.Y.
Watch | beIN SPORTS USA (National – U.S., Canada), beIN SPORTS CONNECT (National – U.S., Canada), MSG Networks (Regional – NY/NJ/CT/PA), MSG GO (Regional – NY/NJ/CT/PA), CW South Florida (Local – Miami)

The New York Cosmos, winners of last year’s Fall Season, boosted their attacking options ahead of the second half of the year, bringing back 2016 NASL Golden Ball recipient Juan Arango. The Venezuelan midfielder scored 15 times and had seven assists during the 2016 NASL season. The Cosmos will look to get off to a better start at home in the Fall Season, facing off against Miami FC. New York lost its home opener to Miami, 3-0, back in April. The Cosmos defeated La Liga side Valencia CF, 2-0, in a friendly last weekend, with goals coming from Eric Calvillo and Emmanuel Ledesma.

Miami FC carries significant momentum into the Fall Season after dominating the league during the Spring campaign. The club boasts the league’s most potent attack, emphasized by Vincenzo Rennella (10 goals) and Stéfano Pinho (eight), who sit at the top of the NASL scoring chart. In 16 Spring Season games, the club also conceded a league-low 11 goals, with goalkeeper Daniel Vega posting a goals against average of 0.69.

North Carolina FC vs. Puerto Rico FC
7:30 p.m. ET | Saturday, July 29
Sahlen’s Stadium | Cary, N.C.
Watch | beIN SPORTS EN Español (National – U.S., Canada), beIN SPORTS CONNECT (National – U.S., Canada), Spectrum SportsChannel (Regional – North/South Carolina), WRAL2 (Local – Cary/Raleigh), WAPA 2 (National – Puerto Rico)

North Carolina FC finished the Spring Season with two wins in its last three games, and the club will certainly hope those results are a sign of things to come in the Fall Season. North Carolina’s last contest was a win against its opponent in Week 1 of the Fall. Colin Clarke’s men defeated Puerto Rico FC, 2-1, at Sahlen’s Stadium, thanks to goals from Lance Laing and Matt Fondy. Then, despite it only being a friendly, the club should take some extra confidence away from its 0-0 draw against Premier League side Swansea City last weekend.

Puerto Rico is hoping the Fall Season can bring a change in results. The club finished the Spring campaign on a six-game winless streak, and hasn’t won a game since early June. Veteran midfielder Mario Martínez Rubio, who began his career in his native Spain with CD Numancia, joined the Caribbean club’s ranks after the Spring Season concluded.

FC Edmonton vs. Indy Eleven
4 p.m. ET | Sunday, July 30
Clarke Stadium | Edmonton, Alberta
Watch | ESPN3 (National – U.S.), NASL.com (National – Canada), Facebook Live (National – Canada)

FC Edmonton enters the Fall Season as a side in transition. Dean Shiels, Sabri Khattab, and Canadian international Adam Straith have all departed the club in recent weeks, but a familiar face has returned. Daryl Fordyce, the club’s all-time leading scorer, joined the Eddies after a short stay with USL side FC Cincinnati. The club has lost five of its last six games, all by the score of 1-0, and will need Fordyce to hit the ground running in his return to Clarke Stadium. The Eddies also bolstered their ranks this week with the signing of young Canadian international Ben McKendry, who joins the club on loan from Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

Aside from Miami FC, Indy Eleven closed out the Spring Season as the NASL’s hottest team. Indy, which was plagued with injuries earlier in the campaign, roared back at the tail end, going unbeaten in five games and picking up four wins during that stretch. Justin Braun has led the line so far in 2017, scoring seven times in the Spring Season. Three of his tallies for the Boys in Blue have come during their recent unbeaten streak.

Jacksonville Armada FC vs. San Francisco Deltas
6 p.m. ET | Sunday, July 30
Hodges Stadium | Jacksonville, Fla.
Watch | ESPN3 (National – U.S.), NASL.com (National – Canada), News4Jax (Local – Jacksonville)

After a hot start in 2017, Jacksonville Armada FC cooled a bit towards the end of the Spring Season. The club, though, is in a strong position heading into the second half of the year. Forward Derek Gebhard is blossoming into a dangerous attacker, scoring the last three goals for the club in the Spring Season. The 21-year-old has scored four times so far this year.

The San Francisco Deltas got off to a strong start in their first NASL season, but lost back-to-back games to Miami FC to close out the Spring campaign. The Deltas, however, still finished the Spring Season in second place and are primed to make a push for the postseason heading into the Fall Season. The club also signed Brazilian Dagoberto at the end of the Spring Season, and he is expected to be involved from the outset of the Fall campaign.

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