By MIKE GRAMAJO
Minnesota United FC claimed top of the table on Saturday despite drawing 2-2 against the Carolina RailHawks, which saw United lose a 2-1 lead late in the game.
RailHawks’ Jordan Graye opened up the deadlock, heading-in a high cross in the 40th minute. Etienne Barbara tied the match for United when he split the Carolina defense in the 77th minute to slide one past goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald.
Etienne Barbara completed his brace in the 65th minute, scoring a penalty kick when a handball was called in the Carolina box. However, newcomer and Real Salt Lake loanee Enzo Martinez would shoot a monstrous goal outside the 18-yard line, which leveled the game for the RailHawks in the 84th minute.
“I thought it was a good game and probably a fair result on the reflection of play,” RailHawks coach Colin Clark told NASL.com. “We sat back early in the second half and that allowed them to come back.”
United stand sharing eight points along with the RailHawks and Rowdies, only thing separating United is an away goal difference.
Here’s more on what else happened in week five in the North American Soccer League:
EDDIES DENY ROWDIES FIRST HOME WIN
The Tampa Bay Rowdies, who still haven’t won a game at home, ended up drawing 1-1 against visiting FC Edmonton in front of 3,412 at Al Lang Stadium.
Georgi Hristov scored the opening goal in the 16th minute when Luke Mulholland was dropped in the penalty box, leaving the Bulgarian forward to score his second goal of the season. Shaun Saiko tied the match for Edmonton in the 35th minute, beating Rowdies goalie Diego Restrepo to put the Eddies back on level.
“We played Wednesday-Sunday-Wednesday and Tampa came out hard,” said Edmonton coach Colin Miller. “We were on our heels a little in the first half but the lads were brilliant in the second half. I’m so proud of them.”
The defending NASL champions play Minnesota United next, a pivotal game that could see the St. Petersburg side take top of the table if they walk-out the MetroDome with three points. While the Eddies, who are two-games unbeaten in NASL play, host the Atlanta Silverbacks on Sunday.
SCORPIONS AND SILVERBACKS TIE IN FOUR-GOAL THRILLER
Things have not been going easy for the 2012 NASL season champions, especially since opening Toyota Field where they have yet to taste victory.
The San Antonio Scorpions topped the NASL weekend, drawing 2-2 against the Atlanta Silverbacks, which saw all four goals in the first half.
Richie Menjivar opened up the scoring for the Silverbacks during the fifth minute of play, only for Hans Denissen to level the match in the 20th minute. Edin Husic would give the Scorpions a 2-1 lead eight minutes later, after finishing a Walter Ramirez cross.
Pedro Mendez’s 30th minute strike ended up cutting San Antonio’s 2-1 lead, after the Scorpions defense would collapse which saw Mendez capitalize on the breakaway.
“We came in to a tough place to play and had to fight hard to get a point today,” Atlanta coach Brian Haynes told NASL.com after the game. “My goal is to bring in new young players and I can’t fault their heart and I’m very proud of the boys tonight.”
San Antonio visit the Carolina RailHawks at WakeMed Soccer Park, where they will seek a first victory this season.