By JOHN BOSCHINI
With FC Edmonton and the Carolina Railhawks finding form, the Puerto Rico Islanders have some company at the top tier of the NASL table.
At the other end of the table the Atlanta Silverbacks and the Montreal Impact are trying to kick-start their campaigns, but time is beginning to run out as the season approaches the quarter mark.
Things are also crowded as three teams sit at six points. The NSC Minnesota Stars, Ft. Lauderdale Strikers and FC Tampa Bay are all looking to make some headway and move up this weekend.
Here is a look at all the action in store in the NASL:
Carolina Railhawks at Montreal Impact (Saturday, 2:30 p.m.)
With a 4-2 win over the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers during the week, the Railhawks moved to the top of the NASL table, but their lead may be a bit misleading, as Puerto Rico has two games in hand. The Railhawks' run of form is being led by Etienne Barbara, who has gone on a scoring tear.
A goal against Ft. Lauderdale extended the Maltese international's scoring streak to five games. He has scored six goals during that time span. Of worry for Carolina is the fact that the defense has failed to keep a clean sheet for three consecutive games.
The Montreal Impact sit near the bottom of the NASL table as its offense starts to click. Scoring only one goal in its first three games, Montreal exploded for five goals against FC Edmonton. The Impact also comes off a 1-0 victory over MLS' New York Red Bulls in a mid-week friendly. With both teams scoring in bunches lately, don't expect a scoreless draw.
FC Tampa Bay at Ft. Lauderdale Strikers (Saturday, 7:30 p.m.)
With both teams sitting on six points in the middle of the NASL, this game could create some separation in the league table. Ft. Lauderdale is having trouble at the back, letting in 11 goals this season. As a result, the Strikers have managed only one win. Their attack looks promising with the emergence of 20-year-old striker David Santamaria, who scored his first goal against the Railhawks.
FC Tampa Bay is having an opposite problem, scoring only four goals in six games. Tampa Bay is keeping pace in the NASL but needs a few wins if it is to make a substantial charge.
Atlanta Silverbacks at NSC Minnesota Stars (Saturday, 8:30 p.m.)
After five games, the Silverbacks are still looking for that elusive first win. Atlanta is already three points adrift of the Montreal Impact, which has a game in hand, at the bottom of the NASL table and things are beginning to look desperate.
The Stars have lost only once this season but are having trouble letting in goals later in games. Minnesota will like its chances against a Silverbacks side that has been outscored, 7-2, at home.
What do you think of this weekend's action? Expecting a good game between Carolina and Montreal? Can Atlanta get its first win?
Share your thoughts below.