Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By MIKE GRAMAJO
After a two-game losing streak, the Tampa Bay Rowdies are still vying for a Soccer Bowl berth.
Luke Mulholland’s 76th minute penalty kick lifted the Rowdies to victory, defeating the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, 2-1, at Al Lang Stadium in front of 3,854 fans.
“It’s fantastic to have three points and once again they haven’t let their heads drop and overall I was delighted with the way the players really wanted to win this game tonight,” Rowdies head coach Ricky Hill told NASL.com. “All we can try to do is get the nine points that are available, and if New York can keep away from us then good luck to them.”
Lucky Mkosana gave the Rowdies the lead in the 13th minute, after a through ball from Etienne Barbara found the on-loan striker from Harrisburg to slide the ball past goalkeeper Richard Sanchez. Strikers midfielder Martin Nunez leveled the match in the 37th minute after Yaikel Perez set up the Uruguayan to bury the shot from the center of the box.
Despite starting the fall season on an eight-game unbeaten streak, the 2012 NASL champions now sit alone in second place with 17 points, trailing the New York Cosmos by seven points and one point clear from third-place Atlanta Silverbacks.
Here’s a closer look at all the action in NASL Week 11:
COSMOS ROUT RAILHAWKS, ONE WIN AWAY FROM SOCCER BOWL
Playing arguably their best game all season, the New York Cosmos extended their unbeaten run to eight games and winning streak to five games, routing the Carolina RailHawks, 4-0, at James Shuart Stadium.
“(The team) performed exactly the way we asked them to perform,” Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese told SBI. “Just pressuring, winning the ball, possessing the ball, making the runs, finding the goal early. Definitely I will say that so far this has been the most complete game that we’ve had this season. We are very proud of the players.”
Danny Szetela opened up the scoring in the 8th minute after Diomar Diaz’s cross found the former United States Men’s National Team member to send a shot past goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald. Diaz’s rocket strike off a throw-in in 52nd minute doubled the lead, only to leave Marcos Senna to put the game to bed when he scored off a penalty kick in the 75th minute.
Second-half substitute Alessandro Noselli made it 4-0 just moments before the final whistle.
SILVERBACKS TROUNCE MINNESOTA
Preparation for the 2013 Soccer Bowl is underway, as the Atlanta Silverbacks recorded their largest victory of the fall season, defeating Minnesota United, 3-1, at Atlanta Silverbacks Parks.
“We’ve been having those chances all year and we haven’t taken them, so I’m happy that after all our hard work tonight, we got the goals,” Silverbacks manager Brian Haynes told NASL.com. “We can’t go into the final limping, so I will be playing the best eleven I have every week.”
Mike Randolph’s cross found forward Ruben Luna to head the ball into the net to break the deadlock in the 42nd minute. Danny Barrera doubled the lead in the 73rd minute, heading in a Shane Moroney cross. Minnesota cut the deficit in the 82nd minute when Simone Bracalello converted a penalty kick.
Pedro Mendes delivered the dagger for Brian Haynes’ men when he scored a penalty before the 90th minute after being brought down by goalkeeper Matt Van Oekel, who received a red card for the foul.
SCORPIONS WIN AGAIN, TOP EDDIES
Despite both clubs being mathematically eliminated from reaching the Soccer Bowl, Tomasz Zahorski’s goal in the 40th minute gave the San Antonio Scorpions a 1-0 victory over FC Edmonton in front of 6,938 fans at Toyota Field.
“We are happy that we got the three points and now we are focused on next week at Tampa Bay,” Scorpions interim coach Alen Marcina told NASL.com. “We have to just keep taking it game by game here on out and focus on getting three points.”
The Polish striker continued his goal-scoring ways in the NASL when Javier Saavedra whipped in a ball towards the box that found Zahorski in space, allowing him to take a left-footed shot for his eighth goal of the season.
- New York Cosmos – 24 points
- Tampa Bay Rowdies – 17 points
- Atlanta Silverbacks – 16 points
- Carolina RailHawks – 14 points
- Minnesota United FC – 14 points
- Ft. Lauderdale Strikers – 14 points
- FC Edmonton – 11 points
- San Antonio Scorpions – 10 points
What did you think of Week 11? Can the Rowdies catch up to the Cosmos? Do you believe the Silverbacks are going to be prepared for the Soccer Bowl? Can the Strikers bounce back from their Florida Derby loss? Do you think Minnesota has the gas to keep going?
Share your thoughts below.