By MIKE GRAMAJO
With the North American Soccer League Fall season coming to a close on Saturday, the Atlanta Silverbacks and New York Cosmos will test run the Soccer Bowl when both sides collide at Atlanta Silverbacks Park (7:30 p.m. WATCH HERE).
The Cosmos clinched the fall season and punched their ticket for the Soccer Bowl last week when they came back from an early 1-0 deficit, defeating the San Antonio Scorpions 2-1 at Toyota Field. Two early second-half goals from Marcos Senna and Stefan Dimitrov proved to be vital as it also extended the clubs unbeaten streak to 10 games.
“We’re going to continue to work and prepare like we have all season,” Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese told NASL.com. “We’re focusing on this weekend and going to put out the players that need to be there. We’re still taking this week by week, game by game.”
Despite dropping their last two road matches, which saw them concede 10 goals total, Brian Haynes’ men will look to keep their four-game unbeaten run at home alive as they prepare for the championship game.
Here’s a closer look at this weekend’s NASL slate:
RAILHAWKS EYE UNBEATEN YEAR AT HOME (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. WATCH HERE)
After recording their largest margin of victory last week, the Carolina RailHawks will be trying to continue their goal-scoring run when they host the San Antonio Scorpions at WakeMed Soccer Park.
The Carolina side pummeled the Atlanta Silverbacks last Saturday with a 4-0 rout, which extended the RailHawks’ unbeaten record at home to 15 games in all competitions.
While there aren’t any post-season implications, the NASL Golden Boot race is up for grabs as Brian Shriver and his league-leading 13 goals will lead the Railhawks against Hans Denissen’s 12 goals.
EDDIES SEARCH FOR FIRST AWAY VICTORY (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. WATCH HERE)
FC Edmonton looks for their first road victory on the road when they head south, playing the Fort Lauderdale Strikers at Lockhart Stadium.
“We now come to Fort Lauderdale who is a much improved side and we’ll have a difficult task ahead of us,” Eddies head coach Colin Miller told NASL.com. “We will be going for three points because we know the significance of it in the standings. There will be no complacency allowed.”
The Eddies surprised last Sunday as they defeated the Tampa Bay Rowdies 2-1, courtesy of two first-half goals from Daryl Fordyce and Robert Garrett. Despite suffering a gruesome defeat at Minnesota, the Strikers will look to emulate their last showing at home, which saw them thrash the Silverbacks 6-2 back in October.
ROWDIES HOST MINNESOTA (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. WATCH HERE)
The 2012 NASL finalist will face off when the Tampa Bay Rowdies host Minnesota United FC at Al Lang Stadium.
“We have a long history with Tampa, they have a good team and have played well this year,” Minnesota head coach Manny Lagos told NASL.com. “I expect the game to be competitive and for both teams to put their best effort forward. We had a good result last week and we want to continue that momentum to finish the season strong.”
If there’s one thing Minnesota United will bring with them to St. Petersburg, it’s momentum. Minnesota defeated the Strikers last Saturday at home, 3-1, and enter Al Lang Stadium looking for more. However, it’s worth pointing out that Ricky Hill’s men are currently on a seven-game unbeaten streak at home, something the Rowdies can use to their advantage.
What do you think of the Week 14 slate? Do you see the RailHawks remaining unbeaten at home in 2013? Can the Silverbacks hold the Cosmos?
Share your thoughts below.