By JOHN BOSCHINI
The Carolina Railhawks will have to wait another week to wrap up their playoff spot.
After a 1-0 victory over the Atlanta Railhawks, Carolina needed only for Montreal to lose or draw against the Puerto Rico Islanders to assure themselves a postseason berth, but the Impact came out with a surprising 1-0 victory of their own.
Puerto Rico's loss, combined with a defeat of FC Edmonton, puts Carolina a whopping 15 points clear of the rest of the field with less than two months left in the regular season. FC Edmonton's consistency problems struck again with a 3-0 loss to the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers.
The Strikers maintained their six-point lead over Montreal for the sixth and final playoff spot but remain three points behind FC Tampa Bay. Atlanta falls back into last place, as its three-game unbeaten streak was snapped by Carolina.
This was also the first weekend in the NASL that featured three shutout victories.
Here is a look back at the weekend action in the NASL:
Carolina Railhawks 1, Atlanta Silverbacks 0
Carolina nabbed its league-leading 14th victory in a game abandoned in the 50th minute after the game was delayed for weather three times totaling two hours.
The Railhawks got an early lead when Etienne Barbara scored his 16th goal of the season. Nick Zimmerman found the Maltese international inside the box and Barbara shook two Silverbacks defenders before beating Felipe Quintero.
The game was delayed in the 22nd, 31st and 50th minutes before the officiating team finally called the game. Carolina extended its home winning streak to nine games and can wrap up a playoff berth this week against Fort Lauderdale.
Fort Lauderdale Strikers 3, FC Edmonton 0
Brian Shriver scored twice in a dominating performance by the Strikers.
With both teams in throwback jerseys, Shriver put Fort Lauderdale ahead in the 14th minute, and Abe Thompson doubled the Strikers lead in the 29th minute. Edmonton had a handful of chances but the Strikers put the result beyond all doubt with Shriver's second in the 76th minute.
Montreal Impact 1, Puerto Rico Islanders 0
Substitute Eduardo Sebrango scored in the 74th minute to give Montreal its first win since June 4.
Neither team managed much in the way of offense with Ali Gerba's breakaway being saved in the 18th minute being the only real chance in the first half. Ryan Pore, on loan from the Portland Timbers, almost put Montreal ahead in the 61st minute, but his point-blank shot was saved just after the hour mark.
The deadlock was finally broken when Sebrango chested down a Phillippe Billy cross and scored from close range. Puerto Rico lost its first game since June 15.
What did you think of the weekend's games? Confident in Carolina's ability to wrap up the regular-season title? Can Fort Lauderdale put some distance between it and Montreal? Are Atlanta's playoff hopes officially over?
Share your thoughts below.