After a week of rumors concerning the future of clubs and the league itself, the NASL returns for a full weekend slate of heated matches.
While none of the top four in the Fall Season Standings are in danger of losing their spots this weekend, Minnesota United can reduce the gap fourth place in the Fall Standings between them and Indy Eleven to one point. Speaking of the Eleven, they host the league topping New York Cosmos in a one vs. four matchup Saturday in Indianapolis.
Here’s a closer look at this weekend’s action.
MIAMI FC vs. PUERTO RICO FC (Friday, 8 p.m., ESPN 3, GolTV)
A festive atmosphere awaits Miami FC and Puerto Rico Friday night at FIU Stadium. The match is expected to draw large numbers in the stands, as the large Puerto Rican community in South Florida has the chance to see the island’s only professional sports team live for the first time.
On the pitch, Miami FC has a chance to jump over FC Edmonton from third to second in the NASL Fall Season Standings. Alejandro Nesta’s squad will be looking to start a new winning streak after a 2-1 loss last weekend in Indianapolis ended a three match winning streak.
Look for Gabriel Farfán to be a rock in Miami’s defense. In his two matches since returning from injury, Farfán has been a key member for the Miami back four. He helped Miami FC record a 1-0 shutout against Carolina, while also looking stellar in last week’s loss to Indy Eleven.
FORT LAUDERDALE STRIKERS vs. TAMPA BAY ROWDIES (Saturday, 7 p.m., ESPN 3)
A new installment of the Florida Derby comes at a difficult time for the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers. Reports emerged this week that Strikers’ ownership has ceased funding the squad, and that the team is now reportedly under NASL control until the end of the 2016 Season.
Despite the rumors regarding ownership, the Strikers will be concentrated on extending their seven game unbeaten streak to eight against their cross-state rival. In their most recent meeting, Tampa Bay defeated Ft. Lauderdale 2-1 at Al Lang Stadium (August 6, 2016).
With a win over Tampa Bay on Saturday night, the Strikers would become the first club to ever beat each of the other four active pro teams (Orlando City, Jacksonville Armada, Tampa Bay Rowdies, Miami FC) in the state of Florida in a single calendar year.
JACKSONVILLE ARMADA vs. RAYO OKC (Saturday, 7 p.m., beIN Sports)
While Jacksonville’s playoff hopes evaporated a long time ago, Rayo OKC are still within an arm’s reach of fourth place.
The Oklahoma City club are six points behind fourth-place Minnesota in the Combined Standings, but if results go its way this weekend, Rayo could find itself only a three points behind the Loons. After a 3-3 draw in Puerto Rico last weekend, the Armada host their first home match in over a month at Community First Park.
OTTAWA FURY FC vs. MINNESOTA UNITED FC (Saturday, 7 p.m., ESPN 3)
Despite only having played each other last weekend, the Loons and the Fury face off for the last time in NASL play in Ottawa on Saturday.
The Fury snatched all three points in Minnesota last weekend, scoring twice within the last ten minutes of the match to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 victory. The victory singled the Fury’s first ever win in Minnesota in their last ever NASL match in Minnesota. Ottawa will be looking to extend their undefeated run to seven games in NASL play with a draw or victory Saturday against the Loons.
CAROLINA RAILHAWKS vs. FC EDMONTON (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., ESPN 3)
FC Edmonton will try and solidify second place in the NASL Fall Standings this weekend with a visit to the Carolina RailHawks at Wake Med Soccer Park. The Eddies drew 0-0 with the New York Cosmos last weekend.
Despite having not played well in recent matches, the RailHawks are only six points behind Minnesota United for fourth in the NASL Combined Standings.
INDY ELEVEN vs. NEW YORK COSMOS (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., ESPN 3, ONE World Sports)
In the marquee matchup of the weekend, the Cosmos will look the solidify their first place spot in both the NASL Fall Standings and the NASL Combined Standings in Indianapolis.
The Cosmos play five of their last seven matches away from Long Island, and have taken four points from their last two road matches. Indy Eleven has gone an incredible fifteen straight home matches without losing.