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NASL Week 12: A Look Ahead

This was a busy week for NASL, as three NASL teams featured in U.S. Open Cup play last Wednesday. 

Miami continued their superb run of form by beating MLS opponent Orlando City, 3-1, away from home. Miami’s home and away form has been excellent – unbeaten in eleven matches – and the team morale seems to be increasingly confident and excited. Miami will play Atlanta United in the next round later this month, as they work to extend their streak of good form.

North Carolina FC fought hard against the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday, but ultimately lost,3-2, at home on an extra time goal by Memo Rodriguez. North Carolina fought hard, getting goals from Steven Miller and the team’s highest scorer Lance Laing, but it was not enough to capture all three points on the night. North Carolina can now focus the table, where they sit in fifth place.

The San Francisco Deltas entered Avaya Stadium to face off against the San Jose Earthquakes Wednesday night. The Quakes put the game to bed quite early, scoring extremely quickly, in the fourth and six minutes of the game. After those goals, the Deltas only had a handful of quality chances in the game. Sitting in third place in the league, the Deltas will now hope to get back on track with a win this weekend. 

In the league, Miami still sits in first place, five points in front of the second-place Jacksonville Armada. Alessandro Nesta and his Miami side have yet to slow down, and do not seem primed to any time soon. On the opposite end of the table, Indy Eleven has yet to secure their first victory of the season and has only accrued seven points through eleven games this season. 

Here is a closer look at league action this coming weekend:

PUERTO RICO FC AT NEW YORK COSMOS (FRIDAY, 7:30PM, ESPN3)

The New York Cosmos are coming off of playing three games in a six-day span last week, and will be happy  to have had a break, and to be playing at home this Friday when they host Puerto Rico FC. The last time these two teams played, there was a flurry of goals as the Cosmos came out victorious, 4-3. The Cosmos will be looking to repeat that result on Friday.

The Cosmos sit in fourth in the league table, only behind the San Francisco Deltas on goal differential. At home against a team that has only captured a single win this season, the Cosmos will hope to come out on top. The Cosmos sit in fourth for both goals conceded and goals scored this season, proof that they have not been as dominant as last season. All the same, the Cosmos are a formidable team and will be look for three points on Friday night. 

Puerto Rico FC captured their first win of the season two weeks ago, and followed the result with a 3-1 home loss to the Deltas. Now on the road, Puerto Rico will be hoping to get back to winning ways, and regain their momentum form earlier in the month. Tied on points with Indy Eleven, Puerto Rico will need to put together more complete results to make any push up the table.

NORTH CAROLINA FC AT INDY ELEVEN (SATURDAY, 7:30PM, BEIN SPORTS)

North Carolina FC is coming off of a U.S. Open Cup loss to the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday, and while they fought hard and drew the game into extra time, the loss will still sting all the same. Indy Eleven is coming off of four straight losses and will be looking to stymie the bleeding with at least a draw at home on Saturday. 

North Carolina sit in fifth in the league, having dropped several places since the quality of their early-season play fell off. Having scored the second most goals in the league, North Carolina have their defense to blame for their series of results, as lapses in defense have led to a number of goals this season. North Carolina will hope to use Indy Eleven as a turning point in the season, as they look to get back to winning ways this weekend. 

Indy Eleven is looking for their first win of the season still. We’ve mentioned this is nearly every NASL Look Ahead and Rewind this season, and it is honestly puzzling. Indy Eleven player Justin Braun is tied for first in league assists, and sits tied for third in league goals. The team has scored just as many goals as third place San Francisco, and sits in sixth in shots taken this season. The only answer for their poor form is their defense, which has not be atrocious this season throughout the majority of games, only conceding late in games or on senseless plays.

JACKSONVILLE ARMADA FC AT MIAMI FC (SATURDAY, 7:30PM, ESPN3)

Saturday night will see a battle of the top two teams in NASL as the Jacksonville Armada will travel within Florida to play Miami FC. Miami is coming off of a 3-1 victory of Orlando City SC, and after winning last weekend as well, spirits on the field are high. The game will be a chance to either make the race for NASL Spring Season Champion more interesting, or to nearly put it out of reach. If the Armada win, the lead that Miami holds atop the table will dwindle to two points. If Miami wins, however, it will rocket to eight points.

The Armada have played well this season. They sit in second in the league and have only conceded nine goals through eleven matches this season. Jacksonville has a chance to surpass Miami this season, but winning this match will be essential to that plan.

Right now, Miami is the favorite in just about every match they play. On Saturday night Miami will be playing at home, sitting atop the league, and having scored the most goals, conceded the fewest goals, and lost the fewest games in the league (just one). 

FC EDMONTON AT SAN FRANCISCO DELTAS (SATURDAY, 10:00PM, TWITTER)

The San Francisco Deltas were not able to net a goal in their 2-0 loss on Wednesday night to the San Jose Earthquakes in Avaya Stadium. Against a team who has struggled this season, and is  beginning to regain its form, the Deltas will hope to be more clinical in front of goal. FC Edmonton is coming off of an impressive midweek win last week against the Cosmos, and more recently a loss to league-leaders Miami FC. Though recent results have been mixed, the Eddies will hope to take it to the Deltas on the road.

The Deltas could not find their shooting boots on Wednesday, and whether it was the quality of their MLS opposition or just a bad night for their attacking group, the Deltas will hope that the trend does not continue. Coming off of a 3-1 away win against Puerto Rico last weekend, it is clear that the team can score. They will need that side of the team to show through on Saturday.

FC Edmonton has been an interesting team this season, showing a lot of promise but not always securing results. On the road against a fatigued San Francisco side, the Eddies will be faced with an interesting challenge of securing a point against a potentially discouraged, equally potentially motivated side. There is a lot of talent on the Edmonton roster, and they will need individual talent to shine on the night.

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