Jacksonville Sports Day

NASL: Miami Climbs into First in Fall Standings; Blake Scores Three for Jacksonville

NEW YORK  – Three road teams went home with three points in Week 5 of the North American Soccer League (NASL) Fall Season. Miami FC, Jacksonville Armada FC, and FC Edmonton all claimed victories away from home on Saturday night, further shaking up the Fall Season Standings going into September.

Jack Blake, an emerging star for Jacksonville, scored a hat trick to carry Armada FC past Indy Eleven, while Jaime Chávez scored for a third straight game to lead Miami past Puerto Rico FC.

The Eddies snuck by the San Francisco Deltas thanks to another strong performance by one of their veteran leaders, Tomi Ameobi. The New York Cosmos were a few minutes away from leaving Sahlen’s Stadium with three points, but a late goal from North Carolina FC clinched a draw.

Indy Eleven 2, Jacksonville Armada FC 3

After beginning the Fall Season with a winless streak, Jacksonville Armada FC finally gathered three points in a 3-2 win over Indy Eleven at Carroll Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind. on Saturday night.

English midfielder Jack Blake scored all three of Jacksonville’s goals in the victory, giving Armada FC just enough to overcome a pair of second-half goals from Indy.

Blake opened the scoring in the 28th minute when he expertly dispatched a lazy cross that had been neglected by the Indy defense. Five minutes before halftime, Blake doubled Armada FC’s advantage – this time from a free kick that he bent around the Indy wall from about 23 yards out.

It was 3-0 in the 63rd minute when Blake fired home his second free-kick goal of the night. The goal, which completed his hat trick, came from a similar distance as his first free kick, only on the opposite side.

Ben Speas answered Blake’s third goal with a quick hit at the other end, finishing off a nice piece of play through the Indy midfield. In stoppage time, David Goldsmith’s header made it 3-2 and gave the Indy faithful hope, but in the end, the hosts’ comeback effort wasn’t enough.

Puerto Rico FC 0, Miami FC 2

Miami FC assumed its place at the top of the Fall Season Standings with a 2-0 victory over Puerto Rico FC at Juan Ramón Loubriel Stadium in Bayamón, P.R. on Saturday night.

Goals from Jaime Chávez and Ariel Martínez, who have both sparked Miami’s recent winning streak, sent Alessandro Nesta’s men to the top of the table.

Puerto Rico might view Saturday’s contest as a missed opportunity, considering the club nearly went ahead just over a minute into the game. Pito Ramos’ early shot hit the post from close range.

In the 34th minute, Chávez latched onto a pass from Dylan Mares and calmly finished past Puerto Rico goalkeeper Trevor Spangenberg.

Chances went both ways throughout the game, but the score remained, 1-0, down the stretch, setting up a tense finish. As a last-ditch attempt to find an equalizer in stoppage time, Spangenberg went forward for a Puerto Rico corner kick, leaving his goal exposed. Mares cleared the danger for Miami quickly and Martinez ran onto the long ball to finish easily into an empty net.

North Carolina FC 2, New York Cosmos 2

The New York Cosmos and North Carolina FC were forced to settle for a point after playing to a 2-2 draw in a back-and-forth affair at Sahlen’s Stadium in Cary, N.C. on Saturday night.

Brazilian youngster Renan Gorne’s first goal for North Carolina gave the hosts at least something to take from the game after it appeared the Cosmos would walk away as winners.

North Carolina midfield maestro Nazmi Albadawi got things started just after halftime when he finished off a give-and-go with teammate Dre Fortune. The homegrown talent and club captain made his 100th NASL appearance on the night as well.

New York responded relatively quickly, as Andres Flores finished off a pass from Ayoze to even the score at 1-1.

Eugene Starikov, who has come so close to scoring for the Cosmos on several occasions this year, finally grabbed his first NASL goal in the 71st minute. The energetic forward picked the pocket of North Carolina defender Connor Tobin and promptly fired home the go-ahead goal.

It wasn’t to be for the Cosmos, however. Albadawi’s shot in the 90th minute was spilled by visiting goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer and Gorne was there on the doorstep to stab the rebound into the net.

San Francisco Deltas 1, FC Edmonton 2

FC Edmonton claimed an impressive road win on Saturday night, topping the San Francisco Deltas, 2-1, at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco, Calif.

Tomi Ameobi and Allan Zebie provided the tallies for the Eddies in a game that saw one player from each club get sent off in the second half.

The contest stayed scoreless until the 31st minute when Ameobi found the back of the net. The tall Englishman collected a pass from midfielder Dustin Corea and dribbled in on goal before beating Deltas goalkeeper Romuald Peiser.

Brazilian veteran Dagoberto brought San Francisco level from the penalty spot in the 62nd minute, but the tied score was short-lived. Zebie poked the ball home in the 64th minute following a scramble in the San Francisco penalty area. The goal – Zebie’s first of the season – gave the Eddies a 2-1 lead.

Eddies defender Karsten Smith was shown a second yellow card in the 66th minute, leaving the visitors down a man. But the Deltas evened out the numbers pretty quickly when midfielder Kyle Bekker was sent off in the 71st minute.

FC Edmonton snapped a three-game losing streak to the Deltas, losing the previous contests all by the score of 1-0.

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