By MIKE GRAMAJO
With the North American Soccer League fall season winding down, it’s all eyes on the red-hot New York Cosmos this weekend as they are one victory away from clinching a place in the Soccer Bowl.
The Cosmos, who are unbeaten at home this season, host FC Edmonton on Sunday (4:00 p.m. WATCH HERE) at James Shuart Stadium.
“Edmonton definitely wants to come at us one hundred percent and take three points off us, especially coming off a loss,” Cosmos head coach Giovanna Savarese told NASL.com. “We need to be prepared and the players will be. This is our last day at home. It is going to be a special day for us and for our fans.”
Although already being eliminated from postseason contention, the Eddies last played the Cosmos back in September, drawing 1-1 at Clarke Stadium as Marcos Senna’s free kick salvaged a draw for Giovanni Savarese’s men. After thrashing the Carolina RailHawks, 4-0, last week at home, the Cosmos will look to extend their five-game winning streak, especially against an Edmonton side that has not won on the road this year.
Here’s a closer look at this weekend’s matches in NASL Week 12:
ROWDIES HOST REJUVENATED SCORPIONS (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. WATCH HERE)
It’s a must-win game for the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
After successfully defeating the Fort Lauderdale Strikers last week at Al Lang Stadium, head coach Ricky Hill’s men will look to add pressure to the first-place Cosmos when they welcome a San Antonio Scorpions side that’s looking to breakaway from last place.
The Scorpions were able to record their second-consecutive home victory last week, thanks to their Polish striker Tomasz Zahorski, who’s been on a goal-scoring streak as of late. The Rowdies however will look to remain unbeaten at home while also display why they’re the best scoring team in the NASL.
“Tampa has one of the best attacks in the league,” Scorpions interim coach Alen Marcina told NASL.com. “They are near the top in terms of goals scored and are a dangerous team. We need to go into their house this weekend and impose our game to come away with three points.”
SILVERBACKS VISIT STRIKERS AT LOCKHART (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. WATCH HERE)
After recording their largest victory in the fall season last week, the Atlanta Silverbacks look to continue their preparations for the Soccer Bowl when they visit the Fort Lauderdale Strikers at Lockhart Stadium.
“They came here and beat us, and they did a good job getting their win,” Silverbacks coach Brian Haynes told NASL.com. “Now we have to go back there and return the serve. We know it’s going to be a tough game.”
Both sides last met in August, which saw the Strikers record a 1-0 victory at Atlanta Silverbacks Park, but things have changed since then for the South Floride side. Head coach Gunter Kronsteiner’s men are aware that a defeat on Saturday night will surely eliminate them from reaching the postseason championship.
MINNESOTA AND CAROLINA CLASH (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. WATCH HERE)
While both sides are riding a two-game losing streak, it’s crunch time for Minnesota United FC and the Carolina RailHawks at the National Sports Center Stadium.
“These next two home games are massive for us to show our fans that we are moving in the right direction,” Minnesota head coach Manny Lagos told NASL.com. “There has been a lot of great positive energy and unfortunately we haven’t quite gotten all of that onto the field for the results but this weekend is a step to continue to try and get better and move forward.”
Respectfully No. 4 in the standings, the Railhawks and Minnesota (Who sit fifth in the table) can still grapple for the fall championship, that’s if the Silverbacks were to win the season and the Cosmos were to stumble their lead in first place.
Despite being perfect at home all year, Colin Clarke’s men have yet to register a victory on the road in the fall season, while Minnesota has started October staggering for points after a promising two-game winning streak last month.
What do you think of Week 12? Do you see the Cosmos clinching this weekend? Can the Rowdies keep their season alive?
Share your thoughts below.