By RYAN TOLMICH
Despite already earning a berth into The Championship as the NASL’s Spring Season winner, Minnesota United are far from content.
The currently undefeated Fall Season leaders will look to continue their run of dominance Saturday at James M. Shuart Stadium against the only team to defeat them in 2014, the New York Cosmos. The Cosmos enter the weekend undefeated against Minnesota United in three previous contests.
Other notable games from Week 7 include a matchup between the San Antonio Scorpions and Atlanta Silverbacks, as well as a clash between the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Carolina RailHawks.
Here is what’s on tap for the NASL this week:
NEW YORK COSMOS vs. MINNESOTA UNITED (Saturday, 7 p.m.)
Minnesota United may be entering the weekend on the heels of the team’s most impressive performance to date, but Saturday’s clash with the New York Cosmos gives the league leaders a chance to provide a major statement.
Minnesota United return to James M. Shuart Stadium fresh off a 5-1 demolishing of Indy Eleven that saw league-leading goalscorer Christian Ramirez increase his tally to 12. However, the team faces a new challenge Saturday with a trip to take on the NASL’s reigning champions.
The hosts handed Minnesota United their lone loss of the season back in May, when a Marcos Senna finish from long distance propelled the Cosmos to a 1-0 victory. The Cosmos, who sit third in the overall table and seventh in the fall standings, will have to put forth a better effort than that last week, when they were overwhelmed by the Tampa Bay Rowdies by a 3-1 scoreline.
INDY ELEVEN vs. OTTAWA FURY FC (Saturday, 7:30 p.m.)
In a clash of two expansion sides, both Indy Eleven and Ottawa Fury FC enter Saturday’s contest in search of a much-needed win.
The two teams are set to face off at Michael A. Carroll Stadium at the bottom of the table while stuck in the midst of disappointing losing streaks. Hosts Indy Eleven remain winless at home and enter Saturday fresh off a 5-1 drubbing at the hands of Minnesota United. Meanwhile, Ottawa Fury FC remain winless in their last seven outings.
The two teams met for the first time May 17, with the Spring Season matchup going in favor of Ottawa Fury FC, who emerged from Indianapolis with a 4-2 victory. The Canadian side will have to replicate that result Saturday if they hope to emerge from the NASL basement.
TAMPA BAY ROWDIES vs. CAROLINA RAILHAWKS (Saturday, 7:30 p.m.)
With both teams jockeying for position, Saturday’s clash between the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Carolina RailHawks could prove vital for playoff qualification.
The two teams collide Saturday at Al Lang Stadium with just two points between them for the final playoff position. The Rowdies enter the weekend with the upper hand, sitting two points above this weekend’s opposition after a 3-1 victory over the New York Cosmos.
Meanwhile, the RailHawks dropped their second home game in a row last time out with a 3-2 loss to FC Edmonton. The RailHawks enter the weekend leading the pair’s all-time head-to-head series, but the Rowdies enter with the confidence that comes with a 4-3 victory over the opposition just two weeks ago.
SAN ANTONIO SCORPIONS vs. ATLANTA SILVERBACKS (Saturday, 8:30 p.m.)
Just a week after relinquishing the lead in the Fall Season to Minnesota United, the San Antonio Scorpions face off with a team that they have never lost to within the friendly confines of Toyota Field.
The Scorpions will look to get back to their winning ways Saturday when they take on the Atlanta Silverbacks. The Scorpions and Silverbacks enter the weekend on the heels of disappointing 1-1 draws with Ottawa Fury FC and the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, respectively.
The Silverbacks sit just four points out of the fourth and final qualifying position for the Championship. However, the Scorpions enter the weekend desperate for points as well, with just three points separating them from Minnesota United in the NASL combined standings.
FC EDMONTON vs. FORT LAUDERDALE STRIKERS (Sunday, 4 p.m.)
Fresh off the team’s first road victory of the season last time out, FC Edmonton will look to put an end to another losing streak when they take on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers Sunday at Clarke Stadium.
The Strikers enter Sunday’s matchup unbeaten in their last seven clashes with FC Edmonton, the last of which was a 3-1 victory back on May 3. In need of points as the season winds down, the Strikers currently sit equal on points with the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the combined standings, but are currently on the outside looking in due to the tiebreaker of away goal differential.
Meanwhile, FC Edmonton remain six points out of playoff position due to a 3-2 victory against the Carolina RailHawks last time out in team’s first road victory of the season.
Looking forward to any matches in particular? How do you see this week’s action playing out?
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