There’s nothing like a Monday after a defeat for your team. Blech.
Indy had its first-ever road game, and despite a good goal tally, didn’t come away with any points. But week 3 had a full slate of very interesting results, and the league picture is looking quite interesting.
Apologies in advance; I wasn’t able to watch the games live, due to the NASL failure with game livestreams. It’s a big disappointment; I’ll talk about that a bit too. Much to discuss, and so let’s get down to it.
On paper, NASL Live is an interesting proposition: $5/month or $30/year for access to livestreams (and archives) of all NASL games. Compare that to last year: you could see many of the games — but not all — for free on UStream. We would all agree that free > paid, but I don’t really mind paying some money both to ensure a more robust service, and to support the league. With the first Indy away game on Saturday, I decided to take the plunge.
Working at my desk on Saturday afternoon, I thought I might test it out by watching some of the Ottawa-Carolina game. That… wasn’t super effective.
Disappointing. I don’t know how many Carolina fans were planning to watch, but all they got was color bars. It didn’t bode well for the rest of the night, and when it came time to watch the Indy Eleven match, there wasn’t even a link available on the NASL Live site. Supporters’ groups across Indiana had set up watch parties at pubs; all were wrecked. The best remaining option was to watch the @IndyElevenLive Twitter feed and seethe.
While I was following the game via Twitter, I had nothing better available, so I watched the second half of Minnesota-Edmonton on NASL Live. That feed worked, but it wasn’t great; audio would glitch out about every 15 seconds, and the video was heavily compressed and also tended to glitch from time to time.
Look, streaming video isn’t easy, and it probably depends heavily on broadcast and technical resources from the home teams. I can be OK with paying to make it work, and I can be OK with accepting problems with a free feed. But if you’re going to take my money, you need to provide the service I paid for. It’s just two games, and I don’t want to call it the apocalypse just yet. But this kind of thing really reflects poorly on the league. We’re expecting a statement about it from the league today, and we’ll see what they say. A definite disappointment in any case.
OK, enough about that. What about the games? I can’t say much about the specifics just yet , but at least we can talk about the results.
Fort Lauderdale Strikers 3-2 Indy Eleven
Indy’s first road trip didn’t end well for the Eleven. The 3-2 scoreline was a bit flattering to the visitors, as it was 3-1 until stoppage time, when Erick Norales scored (second week in a row!) to cut the deficit. Indy played from behind for much of the game, starting at 7′ with a Fort Lauderdale goal from Martin Nuñez. Kleberson evened the score at 26′ on a PK after a handball in the box. The Strikers kept up constant pressure, which got them two second-half goals within four minutes — first from Fafà Picault at 69′ and then Marius Ebbers at 73′. Indy weren’t able to seriously threaten a comeback after that, and Norales’ late goal might help with goal difference but couldn’t get any points for the Eleven.
Indy’s first loss leaves them winless in three games, and drops them to 8th in the table. Coach Juergen Sommer has said that it’ll take five games or so for the team to gel, and we seem to be on that pace. There are plenty of positive signs, starting with the first multi-goal game. But with a third of the Spring season already past, it’s already looking like the Fall season will be Indy’s chance to make a playoff run.
Week 3 was fascinating, with surprising results across the board. The five games saw no draws and a split between home and away wins. The Spring season is really starting to take shape, and yet there’s plenty of chances for any team to launch into contention.
Ottawa Fury 4-0 Carolina RailHawks
In the afternoon #NASLLiveFail game, Ottawa put a hurtin’ on Carolina with a comprehensive 4-0 win. The first NASL hattrick of the year goes to Brazilian Oliver Minatel; his goals at 34′, 63′, and 72′ were supplemented by a Philippe Davies goal at 56′. Carolina weren’t without their own threats, and hoped for a penalty at 47′ when Cesar Elizondo was taken down in the box. In the end, though, it was the Fury and Minatel who dominated the day.
Ottawa’s first points of the season see them take a big leap up the table to sixth, while Carolina’s first loss drops them to fifth and just a point above the Fury.
New York Cosmos 0-1 San Antonio Scorpions[youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7G6yDlKXyNs%5D
The real table-toppler match saw New York fall in the rain at home to San Antonio, in a tense 1-0 match. San Antonio took the lead through a beautifully-worked early goal. Danny Berrara was put through on goal via a lovely backheel from Walter Restrepo. Berrara’s shot brought out a fine save from Cosmos keeper Jimmy Maurer, but Eric Hassli’s powered header off the rebound beat Maurer’s second effort and put San Antonio ahead. Cosmos brought waves of pressure over the rest of the game, but despite fine efforts from Mads Stokkelien in particular, New York were unable to equalize.
The loss breaks both New York’s 13-game unbeaten streak and a 372-minute shutout run. Cosmos fall to 2-0-1 and second place in the table, just ahead of San Antonio and Fort Lauderdale on goal difference.
Tampa Bay Rowdies 1-3 Atlanta Silverbacks[youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TECPhdzMrU%5D
The other home loss of the week saw Tampa Bay fall 1-3 to Atlanta. The Silverbacks opened the scoring at 7′ through Junior Sandoval. Tampa Bay quickly pulled themselves level at 15′ Georgi Hristov’s first goal of the season. Tampa Bay couldn’t stay level though as Jaime Sanchez put Atlanta ahead again at 27′, and Deon McCaulay finished the scoring at 51′ to give Atlanta the away win. Despite the four goals, both keepers did excellent work, with numerous quality saves from Tampa Bay’s Matt Pickens (including a PK save) and Atlanta’s Derby Carrillo and Eric Ati. Ati was named Man of the Match for his acrobatic performance as a sub, replacing the injured Carrillo at 37′.
Atlanta’s first points of the season vault them into 7th place, just ahead of the Eleven. The two-goal loss puts Tampa Bay level with the Eleven on points, but behind on goal differential.
Minnesota United 1-0 Edmonton[youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y43RYqYjbto%5D
The late game of the night saw Minnesota get the home win in the Flyover Cup despite a dogged defensive performance from Edmonton. Edmonton had several chances in the first half, most notably on a short-range shot from Daryl Fordyce, which was partially saved by the feet of Matt Van Oekel, and then cleared off the line on the head of Cristiano Dias, who also headed out a second shot off the rebound. The second half saw building pressure from United. The Eddies were organized and composed in dealing with wave after wave of Minnesota attacks, but the constant pressure always looked likely to get a goal, and it finally came at 72′ on a PK from Simone Bracalello. It was justice for Bracalello, as his goalbound shot was deflected out by Marko Aleksic’s hand. The single score held up, and Minnesota remained perfect on the season.
Nine points for Minnesota is enough to put them into first, while Edmonton’s second loss leaves them with a single point and drops them to the bottom of the table.
Tale of the Table
|1||Minnesota United FC||3||3||0||0||4||9|
|2||New York Cosmos||3||2||0||1||4||6|
|3||Fort Lauderdale Strikers||3||2||0||1||0||6|
|4||San Antonio Scorpions||3||2||0||1||0||6|
|6||Ottawa Fury FC||3||1||0||2||1||3|
|9||Tampa Bay Rowdies||3||0||2||1||-2||2|
The first third of the season sees the table start to stretch out a bit. Minnesota’s three wins gives them top honors so far, but three teams on six points keep things congested at the top. Meanwhile, five teams have three points or less to keep the bottom interesting as well. First wins for Atlanta and Ottawa see them move up, while Indy, Tampa Bay, and Edmonton will look to replicate the feat this week.
Week 4 will once again see all five matches played on Saturday night:
Saturday 3 May
- Atlanta Silverbacks vs Ottawa Fury (7:30PM EDT)
- Carolina RailHawks vs New York Cosmos (7:00PM EDT)
- Minnesota United vs Indy Eleven (8:00PM EDT)
- San Antonio Scorpions vs Tampa Bay Rowdies (8:30PM EDT)
- Edmonton vs Fort Lauderdale Strikers (9:00PM EDT)
Indy faces a tough second game on the road, as they travel to Blaine to take on 3-0-0 Minnesota. United will obviously look at the game as a good chance to cement their hold on the top of the table, but this season has certainly shown that upsets are possible.
New York will attempt to catch up with Minnesota, but their visit to Carolina won’t make it easy. San Antonio appears to have an easier route to 9 points with a home match against Tampa Bay, while Fort Lauderdale has a more difficult task in a road trip to Edmonton. Atlanta hosts Ottawa in a mid-table match that will see at least one of the teams above Indy drop points. All five matches should be interesting to watch.
Cross your fingers for an upset from the Eleven. Come on you red and blue!