NASL Week 1: Edmonton rolls, PR rallies late as road teams run the table

NASL Week 1: Edmonton rolls, PR rallies late as road teams run the table

NASL

NASL Week 1: Edmonton rolls, PR rallies late as road teams run the table

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By JOHN BOSCHINI

It was a nail-baiting debut in the NASL as road teams dominated and all four game ended in one-goal victories.

Three road teams managed to score opening-day victories, including a surprising win for the expansion FC Edmonton over the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers.

It was a weekend where offense didn't come until late. Out of the 10 goals scored over the four games, only one was scored in the first half while four came after the 85th minute.

Puerto Rico made a bold statement in its quest to retain the second-division title with a victory over 10-man Carolina and Tampa Bay managed to hold out for a 1-0 victory at home.

Atlanta and Ft. Lauderdale were outclassed by northern visitors but will be boosted with raucous home crowds of 3,543 and 6,402 fans respectively.

Here's a look back at Week One of the inaugural NASL season.

A rematch of last-season's USSF Division 2 title game had no shortage of drama as a last-gasp winner from Jay Needham gave the Puerto Rico Islanders a 2-1 victory over the Carolina Railhawks at WakeMed Park in Cary.

After an initial two-hour delay, the game was played in a downpour. The Islanders opened up an early lead after a throw-in from Richard Martinez led to a Josh Hansen goal. The Railhawks' problem were compounded just before the hour mark when Jonny Steele was sent off following a reckless challenge.

Despite being down a man, Carolina equalized in the 86th minute after Etienne Barbara converted a penalty after being brought down in the box.

Carolina seemed to have salvaged a result but four minutes of stoppage time ended up being too much for the shorthanded Railhawks. With 3:50 elapsed, Needham headed home a corner kick to give Puerto Rico the victory. 

FC Edmonton started its debut season in ideal fashion with a 2-1 victory over the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers.

Ft. Lauderdale opened the scoring in the 47th minute when defender Martyn Lancaster's header found its way past Rein Baart. The Strikers lead was short-lived, however, after Shaun Saiko scored Edmonton's first-ever goal just eight minutes later.

The comeback was complete in the 66th minute when a low shot from Daniel Antoniuk beat Nic Platter and the Strikers couldn't find an equalizer.

An 85th-minute winner from Tayuka Yamada gave FC Tampa Bay a 1-0 victory over the Montreal Impact.

Both teams lacked an offensive bite in the first half and Montreal dominated play after the restart. The Impact should had taken the lead in the 84th minute but Tsuyoshi Yoshitake put his penalty kick wide of the net. FC Tampa Bay got its winner just a minute later when Yamada's rebound found the back of the net.

The Atlanta Silverbacks returned from a two-year hiatus with a 2-1 loss to NSC Minnesota Stars.

Atlanta had the better of play in the scoreless first half but Minnesota took the lead 10 minutes after the break. Seven minutes later, Matt Horth gave Atlanta its first goal in two years by finishing off a Mario Perez cross.

Minnesota claimed victory with a stoppage-time winner from Andrei Gotsmanov after the Belarus native's curling shot found the side netting.

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What did you think of the weekend's results? Impressed by the Islanders' victory? Could Edmonton surprise people this season?

Share your thoughts below.

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