An unlikely Fall Season leader will look to further their push towards the postseason, while the New York Cosmos are in need of a bounceback performance following several setbacks.
Rayo OKC has emerged as the Fall Season leader through their first six games, but with an extra game played, the first-year franchise will need to keep up the pace in Saturday’s clash with Minnesota United. The Cosmos, meanwhile, sit just one point back following a loss last time out, makingSaturday’s clash with a rising Puerto Rico FC team all the more important.
Elsewhere, the Tampa Bay Rowdies will look to put a busy week of refferee criticisms behind them against Ottawa Fury FC, the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and Jacksonville Armada look to escape the NASL basement and Indy Eleven takes on a rebuilt Miami FC team.
Here’s a closer look at this weekend’s NASL action:
FORT LAUDERDALE STRIKERS vs. JACKSONVILLE ARMADA (Saturday, 7 p.m., ESPN 3)
The Fort Lauderdale Strikers and Jacksonville Armada find themselves bottom of the Fall Standings, making Saturday’s clash vital if either side hopes to stay alive in the playoff race.
Entering Saturday’s clash, the Strikers have lost four straight, as the sale of PC has all but served as a white flag on the 2016 season following the end of the team’s U.S. Open Cup run. The Armada, meanwhile, have been shutout in three straight matches, but will look for recent signings like Alexander Andersson and Nicklas Maripuu to find their feet with their new club.
OTTAWA FURY FC vs. TAMPA BAY ROWDIES (Saturday, 7 p.m., ESPN 3)
The Tampa Bay Rowdies have been the team in headlines throughout the past week, but it hasn’t been for their on-the-field play.
Rowdies owner Bill Edwards took aim at the league’s officiating, releasing a scalding statement and video detailing his gripes with NASL refereeing. A 1-0 loss midweek did little to brighten the team’s mood ahead of Saturday’s clash with Ottawa Fury FC, a team that has loaded up on Canadian talent in recent weeks. On Saturday, Fury FC will see a former player as the likely dangerman, as Tommy Heinemann returns as a member of the Rowdies after leading the club to the league’s final game last season.
NEW YORK COSMOS vs. PUERTO RICO FC (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., One World Sports)
The New York Cosmos are struggling, and a matchup against expansion side Puerto Rico FC couldn’t come at a better time.
Late leads have slipped in back-to-back games for the reigning NASL champions, with the most recent blunder coming in a 2-1 defeat on the road against FC Edmonton. The Cosmos’ road form has been a major concern, just 2-1-6 this season, making a return to Shuart Stadium a welcome sight. On the other end sits a Puerto Rico FC team riding its first ever win, 1 -0 defeat of Rayo OKC.
MIAMI FC vs. INDY ELEVEN (Saturday, 8 p.m., beIN Sports)
Following the club’s first loss, Indy Eleven bounced back big-time last time out, and now the Spring Season champions will look to contend with a team on the rise.
Miami FC has certainly improved on the attacking end following the team’s mid-summer spending spree, with Jamie Chavez leading the charge with a trio of goals in just two games. Kwadwo Poku has proven a revelation in the midfield, giving Miami FC a new weapon not present in the Spring’s 0-0 draw with Indy Eleven, who could be boosted by the return of Colin Falvey.
RAYO OKC vs. MINNESOTA UNITED (Saturday, 9 p.m., ESPN 3)
Rayo OKC has emerged as an unlikely Fall Season leader, but one of the league’s perennial powerhouses will certainly test their candidacy on Saturday night.
A 1-0 win over the Rowdies boosted Rayo OKC to the top of the Fall standings while keeping alive a streak that has seen the first-year club lose just one of their last eight. Included in that run was a 1-0 win over Minnesota United, who sit on nine points through four Fall Season matches. In those four matches, Minnesota United has scored 10 times with league-leader Christian Ramirez continuing to assert himself as the class of the NASL.
FC EDMONTON vs. CAROLINA RAILHAWKS (Sunday, 4 p.m., ESPN 3)
FC Edmonton’s home form has been spectacular throughout the season, and the Eddies can approach an NASL record with another win at Clarke Field on Sunday.
Entering Sunday’s match, the Eddies have won seven straight home games, two behind the NASL record for home wins set in 2011. That record is, coincidentally, held by the Carolina RailHawks, who will look to continue to build play around recent signing Omar Bravo. A 2-0 loss to Ottawa Fury FC proved a setback for the RailHawks midweek, as the Spring Season contender has picked up just seven points through five games.