Jacksonville Sports Day

NASL: New York, Jacksonville Play for Final Spot in The Championship Next Weekend

(FLORIDA SPORTS WIRE) – The postseason picture is much clearer after a wild weekend of North American Soccer League (NASL) Fall Season action. North Carolina FC booked its ticket to The Championship, the league’s four-team postseason tournament, while the San Francisco Deltas assured themselves a semifinal home game.

The New York Cosmos and Jacksonville Armada FC head into the final weekend of the season knowing that only one spot is left. The two sides played to an entertaining 4-4 draw on Sunday afternoon.

Jacksonville Armada FC 4, New York Cosmos 4

The New York Cosmos mounted a huge second-half comeback to earn a draw against Jacksonville Armada FC at a sold-out Hodges Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Zach Steinberger, Drew Beckie, and Kalen Ryden scored for Jacksonville in the opening stanza, leaving Armada FC with a 3-1 halftime lead.

Not long into the second half, the Cosmos began showing signs of life and it was Eugene Starikov who kickstarted the comeback. The former U.S. youth international scored from close range in the 58th minute to make it 3-2. Just eight minutes later, the game was level thanks to New York substitute Lucky Mkosana.

The Cosmos didn’t stop there. Jimmy Mulligan’s long-distance effort in the 77th minute put the visitors ahead. After surrendering three unanswered goals, the hosts pulled even at 4-4 through Charles Eloundou. The Cameroonian international blasted a shot home from the right side of the box, sending the sold-out crowd into a frenzy.

The two sides each have one game remaining, and only one of them will end up in the postseason.

North Carolina FC 1, San Francisco Deltas 1

North Carolina FC edged closer to clinching its spot in The Championship with a 1-1 draw against the San Francisco Deltas at Sahlen’s Stadium on Saturday night.

In a game where the Deltas locked up the No. 2 seed in the postseason, which includes semifinal hosting rights, the home side came out swinging first.  Dre Fortune whipped in a perfect cross to the far post that was met by Austin da Luz in the 30th minute.  The tidy finish from da Luz put North Carolina ahead going into halftime.

San Francisco was full of energy after the break, particularly Brazilian playmaker Pablo Dyego.  The young forward’s persistence in the attack paid off in the 68th minute when he cleaned up a rebound for San Francisco’s equalizer.  North Carolina goalkeeper Macklin Robinson made a brilliant initial save, but Dyego was there on the doorstep to head the ball into the corner of the net.

North Carolina finishes the season on the road at Indy, where it hopes to punch its ticket to the postseason.

Miami FC 2,  FC Edmonton 0

Miami FC proved that it’s ready for the postseason with a confident 2-0 road win over FC Edmonton at Clarke Stadium on Saturday night.

Stefano Pinho, who is on the cusp of winning his second NASL Golden Boot award, tallied his 17th league goal of the year just 11 minutes into the game. Pinho combined once again with strike partner Jaime Chavez to tap home from close range.

FC Edmonton looked dangerous throughout the game, and Daryl Fordyce had a few opportunities to bring the Eddies level.  A mistake from Sainey Nyassi, however, gave the visitors their second goal.  In the 64th minute, Michael Lahoud pounced on an errant pass from Nyassi and spotted Dylan Mares, who blasted a shot into the corner of the net from a few yards out.

Miami’s final game before The Championship comes at home on Saturday against the Eddies.

Puerto Rico FC 2, Indy Eleven 1

Puerto Rico FC grabbed at early lead at Carroll Stadium on Saturday afternoon and held on for a 2-1 win over Indy Eleven.

Sidney Rivera and Emery Welshman were both on target for the visitors, who recorded their first win since August.

Puerto Rico scored five minutes into the contest when Rivera latched onto an errant clearance by the Boys in Blue and fired a shot past Indy goalkeeper Keith Cardona.  Later in the half, a long ball into the box was met by Pito Ramos, who laid the ball into Welshman’s path.  The forward’s shot took a deflection and left Cardona diving the wrong way.

Indy would cause pressure on Puerto Rico’s back line late in the game and would pull a goal back after a strong play from two of its youngest squad members.  Tanner Thompson drove towards the endline and squared a pass that David Goldsmith was able to tap in from close range.  The Boys in Blue, though, were unable to find the tying goal in the game’s waning moments.

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