By JOHN BOSCHINI
For the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, a win couldn't have come at a better time.
A victory over league-leading Carolina coupled with a Montreal loss put the Strikers nine points clear of the Impact for the final playoff spot. Despite the loss, Carolina clinched a playoff spot with Montreal's loss.
Atlanta's slim hope of riding its recent string of good results to the playoffs was all but extinguished with a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of FC Tampa Bay. Tampa Bay moves into fourth place, two points clear FC Edmonton.
Edmonton failed to put the Islanders under pressure with a 1-0 loss in Puerto Rico. The 2010 USSF Division 2 champs have a solid lock on second place as Edmonton lost its fifth consecutive game.
The NSC Minnesota Stars are back up to third place following their 3-1 victory over Montreal.
Here is a look back at all the action in the NASL over the weekend:
FC Tampa Bay 4, Atlanta Silverbacks 0
Keith Savage scored a goal in each half for a brace as FC Tampa Bay made quick work of the Silverbacks.
Mike Ambersley was the driving force behind Tampa Bay's attack assisting on both of Savage's goals and scoring one for himself toward the end of the first half. Matt Clare scored in the dying minutes to put an exclamation point on the rout. Tampa Bay goalkeeper Jeff Attinella notched his fifth shutout of the season while the club turned in the biggest margin of victory in its history.
Minnesota Stars 3, Montreal Impact 1
Simone Bracalello scored a double in the final 15 minutes to give Minnesota the win.
Defender Neil Hlavaty gave Minnesota the lead with a penalty kick in the 15th minute, but the lead was short lived when Ian Westlake equalized 12 minutes later. Bracalello scored in the 75th minute to give Minnesota the lead and added an insurance goal in extra time.
Fort Lauderdale Strikers 2, Carolina Railhawks 1
Martin Nunez's dramatic, stoppage-time winner against his former team gave Fort Lauderdale a much-needed victory and handed Carolina its third loss of the season.
Walter Restrepo opened the scoring in the 38th minute to give Fort Lauderdale the halftime lead. Chris Nurse equalized for the Railhawks 18 minutes from time, but Nunez's goal gave Fort Lauderdale the win. Carolina remains 12 points ahead of Puerto Rico at the top of the NASL table.
Puerto Rico Islanders 1, Edmonton 0
It took 90 minutes, but the Puerto Rico Islanders finally broke through for a narrow victory.
Both teams combined for just 10 shots, the last of which saw Aaron Pitchkolan score in the final minute. Pitchkolan ranks third among defenders with his third goal of the season.
What did you think of the weekend's games? Impressed with the Strikers' victory? Can Puerto Rico catch Carolina? Is Montreal in trouble?
Share your thoughts below.