By RYAN TOLMICH
Despite asserting himself as NASL’s top goalscorer, few could have predicted what Christian Ramirez would do next.
Ramirez unleashed his best goal to date, a spectacular bicycle kick finish, as Minnesota United overran Indy Eleven by a 5-1 scoreline to claim the top spot on the NASL Fall table.
Minnesota United opened the scoring in the 25th minute through Aaron Pitchkolan, but it would be Ramirez’s finish 12 minutes later that got people talking. Defender Justin Davis played a lofted ball to Ramirez, who was stationed near the top of the Indy Eleven box. The 23-year-old chested the ball up into the air before finishing with an overhead bicycle into the bottom left corner to push the scoreline to 2-0.
Additional goals from Daniel Mendes, Jamie Watson and Ramirez pushed the lead to five, before Indy Eleven’s Kleberson picked up a consolation goal as the game finished 5-1. With the victory, Minnesota United picked up their fifth win in six games, as Ramirez and co. now top the NASL Fall table with 16 points.
Here’s a closer look at the rest of the weekend’s action in NASL:
FURY FC EARN LATE DRAW WITH SCORPIONS
In a matchup between the league’s first and last-placed teams entering the weekend, Ottawa Fury FC were supposed to be little more than fodder for the highly-favored San Antonio Scorpions.
Fury FC proved to be much more capable than their record indicates, earning a last-gasp 1-1 draw due to a 90th minute equalizer from forward Tom Heinemann.
The Scorpions, who entered Saturday without captain Adrian Cann due to injury, opened the scoring in the 76th minute through Trevin Caesar. Caesar, who had been substituted into the game just two minutes prior, scored from long-distance to give the Scorpions the lead, seemingly pushing the Scorpions past a potential upset.
However, it was Fury FC who had the last laugh, with Heinemann scoring in the game’s final moments to tie things at one. Heinemann was on the receiving end of an over-the-top through ball from substitute Vini Dantas, and the 27-year-old forward made no mistake in finishing to earn his side a hard earned point.
With the draw, the Scorpions relinquished the league’s top spot, with Minnesota United tying the Scorpions’ 16 points while having a game in hand.
ROWDIES KNOCK OFF COSMOS IN MATCHUP OF HISTORIC RIVALS
The Tampa Bay Rowdies and New York Cosmos have encountered one another many times, dating back to the two sides’ time in the original NASL. The two teams’ most recent collision came Saturday with the Rowdies emerging from the friendly confines of Al Lang Stadium victorious.
The Rowdies put further distance between themselves and this weekend’s opposition, pulling four points ahead of the Cosmos with a 3-1 victory.
Midfielder Keith Savage opened the scoring in the 22nd minute by banging in a cross from Amani Walker. Defender Tamika Mkandawire added a second in the 58th minute, his second in as many weeks.
The Cosmos pulled things to within one in the 81st minute through Stefan Dimitrov, but an extra time finish from Rowdies defender Blake Wagner ended any hope of a Cosmos comeback.
The Rowdies’ victory is the teams first triumph over the Cosmos since May 26, 1984. More importantly, the victory propels the Rowdies into third place, good enough for a spot in The Championship.
FC EDMONTON TOP RAILHAWKS WITH LATE PENALY KICK
With the game tied at two in the game’s final moments, Saturday’s clash between FC Edmonton and the Carolina RailHawks would come down to a Neil Hlavaty penalty kick.
The second half substitute made no mistake and converted right down the middle, as FC Edmonton picked up a 3-2 victory over the Carolina Railhawks at WakeMed Soccer Park.
RailHawks forward Zack Schilawski opened the scoring in the 12th minute, who headed the ball off the crossbar and in to give the hosts a 1-0 lead that would stand until halftime. FC Edmonton scored two goals in eleven minutes early in the second half, with midfielder Lance Laing and Richie Jones, who scored in the 53rd and 64th minutes, respectively.
Schlawski added a second in the 75th minute to tie things at two, but the game would come down to Hlavaty’s penalty in the final minutes. The FC Edmonton penalty kick came due to the work of midfielder Horace James, was taken down in the box by RailHawks defender Austin King. Hlavaty sent the ensuing penalty kick right down the middle and into the back of the net, earning his side all three points.
STRIKERS, SILVERBACKS PLAY TO DRAW
The Atlanta Silverbacks put together a virtually ideal start in Saturday’s trip south to take on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. With a 7th minute goal from Jaime Chavez in the bank, the Silverbacks were off to a spectacular start at Lockhart Stadium.
The Silverbacks failed to find a second goal and were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw with the Strikers, who equalized in the 62nd minute through Fafa Picault.
Chavez opened the scoring for the visitors in the game’s opening minutes as the Silverbacks put together a quick counter attack. A long ball from Junior Burgos fell into the path of Chaves, who tapped the ball past Strikers’ goalkeeper Kamil Contofalsky to give his side the early lead.
The Strikers got their equalizer 17 minutes into the second half by way of Picault, who benefitted from the assist of Martin Nunez. After creating space by beating his defender on the left side, Nunez drove a cross through the box to Picualt, who tapped home his seventh goal of the year.
With the draw, the Strikers maintain their one point lead over the Silverbacks, who have a game in hand.
What did you think of NASL Week 6? Which results stood out to you?
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