Jacksonville Sports Day

NASL: Jacksonville Wins in San Francisco, but Misses Out on The Championship

Photo by John Hefti

NEW YORK – Two dramatic races reached their conclusion on the final weekend of the North American Soccer League (NASL) Fall Season.

On Saturday night, Miami FC became the first NASL club to capture both the Spring and Fall Season titles, while the New York Cosmos claimed the last spot in The Championship, the league’s four-team postseason tournament.

Miami claimed its second trophy of the year, edging FC Edmonton on a rainy evening at Riccardo Silva Stadium. In New York, the Cosmos cruised to a 5-2 victory over Puerto Rico FC on the back of Emmanuel Ledesma, who scored a hat trick in the second half.

The San Francisco Deltas entered the evening with a chance to grab the Fall Season title, while Jacksonville Armada FC remained hopeful of its chances to earn a spot in the postseason, but Miami and New York held respective advantages over the aforementioned clubs and ended up finishing the job themselves.

San Francisco Deltas 0, Jacksonville Armada FC 2

Jacksonville Armada FC held up its end of the bargain on Saturday night, shutting out the San Francisco Deltas, 2-0, at Kezar Stadium, but the result wasn’t enough to book the club a spot in The Championship.

J.C. Banks and Tony Taylor were on target for the visitors, who made sure San Francisco didn’t get its hands on the Fall Season Championship trophy.

The opening goal came in the 27th minute when Ciaran Kilduff’s header across the face of goal was met by Banks. The Milwaukee native was in the perfect position to nod home Kilduff’s helper.

On the other side of halftime, Taylor doubled Armada FC’s lead. The Panamanian international’s shot through traffic rattled the inside of the post and found its way into the net in the 60th minute.
Miami FC 2, FC Edmonton 1

Miami FC locked up the Fall Season title with a 2-1 win over FC Edmonton at a rain soaked Riccardo Silva Stadium on Saturday night.

Kwadwo Poku scored both of Miami’s goals, which were a welcome sign after the Ghanaian international had gone without a goal since July 29.

The Eddies had the first chance of the game and nearly went ahead in the fourth minute when Abdoulaye Diakite’s header hit the crossbar.

Following a scoreless opening stanza, Poku broke the deadlock in the 53rd minute. Vincenzo Rennella released Poku with a brilliant through ball and the 25-year-old forward did the rest to put Miami up, 1-0.

A penalty kick from Daryl Fordyce brought the Canadian side level in the 56th minute, but Poku made sure that the visitors didn’t end up taking anything from the game. A cross fell perfectly for him in front of the Edmonton net and a simple finish put Miami ahead for good.

Miami will now host either New York or North Carolina in The Championship Semifinals next Sunday.

New York Cosmos 5, Puerto Rico FC 2

The New York Cosmos are headed to the postseason for the fifth straight year after posting a 5-2 victory over Puerto Rico FC at MCU Park on Saturday night.

Argentine midfielder Emmanuel Ledesma scored three goals in a span of 16 minutes in the second half to lead the Cosmos, who briefly fell behind to their Caribbean opponents.

After a scoreless first half, Puerto Rico forward Emery Welshman opened the scoring in the 48th minute thanks to some sloppy play in the back from New York. Ledesma made sure the visitors’ lead didn’t last long, blasting home a spectacular shot from just outside the box in the 51st minute.

Only five minutes transpired before Ledesma found the back of the net again. Jimmy Mulligan’s pass over the top was corralled by the Argentine and fired past Puerto Rico goalkeeper Austin Pack. The former Middlesbrough midfielder completed his hat trick in the 67th minute with a wonderful chip over an onrushing Pack.

Cosmos captain Carlos Mendes, playing in his final regular-season game, finished well at the near post to put the hosts up, 4-1, in the 75th minute.

After Welshman found the back of the net again for Puerto Rico, Zimbabwean forward Lucky Mkosana put the icing on the cake for the Cosmos, scoring in the fifth minute of stoppage time to make it 5-2.

New York now awaits the result of tomorrow’s Indy-North Carolina game to see whether it will be the No. 3 or No. 4 seed in The Championship.

Like Miami, the Deltas are now set to play host to either New York or North Carolina (depending on tomorrow’s result in Indy) in The Championship Semifinals next Sunday.

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