Well, that livened things up a bit, didn’t it? Week 6 saw thirteen goals, three wins, and a table that’s got a frontrunner followed by a logjam of contenders.
Carolina RailHawks 5-2 San Antonio Scorpions
Carolina’s big home win over San Antonio sees them take the top of the table for themselves. The game though was a bit closer than you’d guess from the scoreline. Carolina got started quickly at 13′ via the 30-yard shot from Floyd Franks. (It was likely a goal anyway, but to my eye it took an unlucky deflection off Kevin Harmse that gave keeper Pat Hannigan no chance.) But San Antonio, having found their scoring boots last week, kept it up at 20′ with a penalty by Hans Denissen after a bit of a ‘push’ in the box (on who, I can’t tell) that was rather exaggerated.
San Antonio couldn’t hold the deadlock to halftime. At 38′, keeper Hannigan took a bad touch on a dicey backpass to gift Zack Schilawski with an easy 22-yard goal. After the break, Carolina broke the game open within 5 minutes. The goals went to Brian Shriver and Schilawski again, but the goals were made by wonderful play from Austin da Luz. The first saw him offer a perfect early cross for Shriver to touch home at 48′. But the next goal at 50′ was my goal of the week, with touches from Tiyiselani Shipalane to Shriver and back to Shipalane, whose beautiful pass to da Luz was only exceeded by da Luz’s fine move, beating Hannigan and Chris Williams at the end line to loft a beautiful lob for Shilawski to nod home.
Despite the scoreline, San Antonio kept up the pressure. After forcing a fine save from big Akira Fitzgerald, the Scorpions fought for the ensuing corner and Nikola Vasilic was able to poke home at the far corner at 65′. Another fine Fitzgerald save off a Vasilic shot kept the gap from closing, before the RailHawks put a bow on the win at 85′. Brian Ackley’s fine hold-up play set up Shriver, whose well-placed shot from 10 yards gave him his second goal to give Carolina 5. Carolina takes sole possession at the top of the table, while San Antonio sits all the way at the bottom, on two points.
Fort Lauderdale Strikers 2-1 Minnesota United
Minnesota was unable to keep pace with Carolina, as the Strikers got their first win of the season. The Strikers struck quickly, as a sloppy Minnesota throw at 2′ fell to Jemal Johnson. He fed Mark Anderson, who lost a defender with a nice cutback and found keeper Daryl Sattler napping. Fort Lauderdale doubled the advantage at 14′, when Manny Gonzalez fed a 40-yard lob to David Foley between two defenders; Foley took a touch left and beat Sattler at the near post to notch the eventual winning goal.
Minnesota built pressure in the second half, and were handed a lifeline at 58′, when Stephane Guillaume was sent off for his second yellow card. United cut the lead at 69′, when Simone Bracalello beat two defenders on the right wing to find Pablo Campos at the far post, who headed home the one-bounce cross. But despite bringing further waves of pressure at the Strikers, Minnesota were unable to find the second goal.
FC Edmonton 3-0 Atlanta Silverbacks
Edmonton hauled themselves into league contention with a dominant home win over Atlanta. Atlanta brought early pressure, but the game changed at 22′ when Silverbacks keeper Joe Nasco was sent off for illegally handling a long Edmonton pass outside the box. Nasco was under a bit of pressure but the football marks on the Edmonton pitch certainly didn’t help either.
Edmonton turned the man advantage into a clear win. The deluge started at 41′ when Daryl Fordyce hit a fine diving header to the far post from a Lance Laing diagonal ball. Michael Cox took advantage of substitute keeper Eric Ati at 44′. Ati misplayed a bouncing headed backpass outside his box; Cox had an open goal but still had to fire past the sliding defender for the goal. But the third goal gave Cox another chance to shine at 50′, chesting Robert Garrett’s cross to himself and finishing with a classy overhead kick.
Tale of the Table
Carolina takes undisputed honors atop the table, with a three-point lead over the pack. But the standings below remain congested, with three teams (including idle Tampa Bay) tied at 8 points, followed by Atlanta at 7. Fort Lauderdale’s first victory sees them climb above San Antonio for the 6th spot.
|Tampa Bay Rowdies||5||2||2||1||2||8|
|Minnesota United FC||5||2||2||1||2||8|
|Fort Lauderdale Strikers||5||1||1||3||-4||4|
|San Antonio Scorpions||5||0||2||3||-6||2|
Sat 18 May: Tampa Bay at Minnesota; Carolina at Atlanta; Fort Lauderdale at San Antonio
(bye for Edmonton)
Week 7 will be the halfway mark through the spring season. Carolina looks to defend their advantage with a visit to Atlanta (who will still be missing Nasco thanks to his red card). (Carolina also has a Tampa Bay and Minnesota will also look to make moves up the table, while Fort Lauderdale and San Antonio will both desperately seek to rack up points in their cellar-dwelling battle.
Tue 21 May: Next week also sees the second round of the US Open Cup, with all six US teams in action:
- Atlanta Silverbacks at Georgia Revolution (NPSL), 7:00 EDT
- Carolina Dynamo (PDL) at Carolina RailHawks, 7:00 EDT
- Tampa Bay Rowdies at VSI Tampa Bay FC (USL Pro), 7:30PM EDT
- Laredo Heat (PDL) at Fort Lauderdale Strikers, 7:30 EDT
- FC Tucson (PDL) at San Antonio Scorpions, 8:30 EDT
- Des Moines Menace (PDL) at Minnesota United FC
The regional matchups could see some heated rivalries form, as the lower-division teams seek to make their mark against the larger squads. (And maybe some players will be auditioning for jobs too…)
The NASL teams that win next week will face MLS opposition the following week (28/29 May), so it will be quite interesting to see how they fare against their bigger brethren. But before all that, we have some league matches to play. Should be fun!