NASL Week 13 wrap, and NASL News

I covered most of the Week 13 update on Saturday night — I couldn’t wait to talk about the two biggest games of the week. But I want to quickly rewind and talk about Carolina’s match against Salt Lake in the US Open Cup, before covering the Edmonton-Minnesota 1000 mile Upper Midwest derby from Sunday night.

But first, a couple news tidbits. Yesterday Fort Lauderdale fired coach Daryl Shore with one game remaining in the spring season. The Strikers’ season was disappointing by any measure, with 7 losses in 11 games and a 1-2-3 home record. After finishing 5th (of 8 teams) in the 2012 season, the last-place finish this spring is a clear step backwards. Hopefully Fort Lauderdale can find a coach who can turn the trend around; south Florida should be a ripe soccer market. Best wishes to Shore for success in his next ventures.

And, today at the NASL owners meeting, the league invited Oklahoma City to formally request a NASL franchise. That pretty much means that OKC will be a NASL expansion team in 2015. That would bring the league to 12 teams (13, if Puerto Rico gets going again, which seems unlikely). 12 is a good number, though I’m sure the league will expand farther if possible. NASL Commisioner Bill Peterson has been answering questions on Twitter tonight — on a bit of a rampage, in fact — and has made a few interesting points. Specifically, he’s said that the NASL is interested in promotion and relegation, possibly even if the MLS isn’t involved.

They’re also planning an iPhone/Android app in the fall, and have had talks with EA Sports over the FIFA game but need to grow a bit first. Interesting stuff!

OK, all fun, but on to the soccer!

Real Salt Lake 3-0 Carolina RailHawks (US Open Cup)

So, the trip to Salt Lake City was too much for Carolina, and they went out rather meekly in the US Open Cup. Carolina played defensively, but goals from Tony Beltran at 35′, Chris Wingert at 50′, and Álvaro Saborío at 86′ kept the clamps on Carolina’s hopes. Carolina had started a cautious lineup, with César Elizondo, Brian Shriver, and Austin da Luz on the bench, though all three entered as subs. It wasn’t enough to get them the win at Salt Lake City — or Atlanta, for that matter — but Carolina still deserves to be congratulated for advancing farther than any other NASL team. I’m sure they’ll take the spring championship as a fine reward if they can win on Thursday next.

FC Edmonton 3-1 Minnesota United FC

Clarke Stadium has been a tough place for Americans to come calling, and Minnesota found that out on Sunday as they suffered a 3-1 defeat to put paid to their faint Spring Season title hopes. The Eddies got off to a fast start at 11′ as Neil Hlavaty fed a fine cross to Mallan Roberts for an easy goal. Hlavaty had a role in the second goal, as he fed a fine crossfield pass on a counterattack to Shaun Saiko, whose quick ball in was perfectly placed for Daryl Fordyce to head home. Minnesota got a goal back at 67′ when Justin Davis made a nice run to the end line and found Miguel Ibarra at the corner of the six-yard box. But Hlavaty capped his fine performance at 86′ when he converted the penalty (won by Michael Cox) to complete the Edmonton victory.

Tale of the Table (Sunday edition)

Team GP W T L GF** GD* PTS
Carolina RailHawks 11 5 5 1 20 6 20
Atlanta Silverbacks 11 5 3 3 17 2 18
San Antonio Scorpions 11 5 2 4 17 2 17
Tampa Bay Rowdies 11 4 3 4 17 1 15
FC Edmonton 12 3 5 4 14 1 14
Minnesota United FC 11 4 2 5 18 -2 14
Fort Lauderdale Strikers 11 2 2 7 17 -10 8

*First tie-breaker
**Second tie-breaker

Minnesota falls out of the race for the top spot in the Spring. To be fair, theirs was the least likely chance of all four remaining contenders, even had they won in Edmonton. But the lopsided loss sees the Eddies leap past Minnesota into fifth place, though Minnesota can recover their spot with a win or draw over Atlanta next Thursday. Edmonton are now finished, with the Canadian team appropriately idle on the Fourth of July.

Next Up (Spring Finale!)

Friday 4 July: Atlanta at Minnesota, Carolina at San Antonio, Fort Lauderdale at Tampa Bay. (Bye for Edmonton.)

Despite the Minnesota loss, we still have three teams contending for the title. Here’s how it breaks down:

  • If Carolina wins, they’re the Spring champs.
  • If Carolina ties, they’re still in good shape. Atlanta can only take the title if they win by 4 or maybe even 5 goals, which seems unlikely. So a Carolina tie will likely get them the Spring title too.
  • If Carolina loses to San Antonio, it’s all up for grabs. Atlanta wins if they win. But if Atlanta loses, San Antonio can win if they beat Carolina by 3 goals. Actually the Scorpions can win if they beat Carolina by 2 goals in a 5-3 or better goalfest, but if that happens, check the Vegas action. (EDIT: nah, my math was crazy. +3 goals is the way to go for SA.)

Thursday will be a fun night of NASL action. Three teams fighting for the title… I can’t wait!

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