By MIKE GRAMAJO
Brian Shriver just can’t be stopped.
The former North Carolina Tar Heel found the net in the 52nd minute, scoring his 12th goal of the season to lead his side to a 1-0 victory over Minnesota United FC in front of 5,201 fans at WakeMed Soccer Park.
“Tonight was a good result,” RailHawks head coach Colin Clarke told NASL.com. “We have done a good job this evening and I am delight that we got another clean sheet. Overall it was a great result and another three points.”
Forward Zack Schilawski helped set up the RailHawks goal, as his pass found midfielder Cesar Elizondo making a run down the right flank, who seconds later crossed the ball to an open Shriver to open up the dead lock for the Carolina side.
The RailHawks stay in first place in the NASL fall season standings with 10 points, extending their unbeaten run at home to 12 games. Meanwhile, Minnesota United plummet to seventh place with four points.
Here’s a closer look at the rest of Week 4 action:
STRIKERS UPSET SILVERBACKS
For the first time all season, the Fort Lauderdale Strikers are on a winning streak.
Bradlee Baladez’s 33rd minute goal was all the Strikers needed to cruise to a 1-0 victory over the Atlanta Silverbacks at Atlanta Silverbacks Park in front of an announced crowd of 3,822.
“We scored with the first big chance we got and I think we deserved the win,” Strikers manager Günter Kronsteiner told NASL.com after the game. “When I got to this team, the team was in last place and had no confidence. We’ve been working on building that confidence back up and I think they’ve been getting it back.”
Defender Ivan Guererro orchestrated the Strikers goal, as his cross found an unmarked Baladez, which he headed past Silverbacks goalkeeper Joe Nasco. On-loan goalkeeper Richard Sanchez earned his first clean sheet for the Strikers, shutting out the 2013 spring season champions.
With the victory, the Strikers pick up a second consecutive win, which puts them in fourth place with six points, a point clear from the Silverbacks who sit in fifth place with five points.
COSMOS SCORE STOPPAGE-TIME WINNER TO BEAT SCORPIONS
After a nightmare road trip a week earlier, the New York Cosmos were more than happy to be in the comforts of home.
Substitute Henry Lopez scored a header goal in stoppage-time to lead the Cosmos to a 2-1 victory over the winless San Antonio Scorpions in front of an announced crowd of 6,852 at James Shuart Stadium.
“I saw everybody was fighting at the end of the game trying to score a goal to have the win and when Marcos hit it in the box I just tried to run between the two big guys and score,” Lopez told NASL.com. “I’m very happy because this is my first professional goal with a big team like the Cosmos.”
Midfielder Diomar Diaz broke the deadlock for the Cosmos in the 42nd minute, as a failed Scorpions clearance lead the Venezuelan to strike the ball past Scorpions goalkeeper Patrick Hannigan. However, things changed when Tomasz Zahorski leveled the match for the Scorpions in the 64th minute when defender Lyle Martin found the Polish striker open in the box.
The match looked as though it would finish in a draw, but a late attack from the Cosmos was certainly in the script. Another failed clearance from the Scorpions backline resulted into Marcos Senna keeping the ball alive, heading into the middle of the box. Lopez rushed onto the ball and headed it perfectly into the lower corner to give his side a crucial home victory and make the fans rise to their feet in appreciation.
Giovanni Savarese’s side move up to second place in the NASL standings with seven points, as they go north of the border to play FC Edmonton on Sunday. San Antonio welcome Minnesota on Saturday at Toyota Field.
EDDIES DENY ROWDIES VICTORY
Since their opening weekend goal-bonanza, the Tampa Bay Rowdies have struggled to take all three points from a match.
The Rowdies drew for the third straight match, drawing FC Edmonton, 1-1, on Saturday night at Al Lang Stadium with 3,118 fans in attendance.
After Luke Mulholland put the Rowdies side 1-0 in the 38th minute, the Eddies midfielder Chris Nurse, who scored his second goal in two games, leveled the match right before halftime when a failed Rowdies clearance saw Nurse execute the shot for the tie.
“I thought it was a very tough game with nothing between the two teams and probably in the end a draw is a fair result,” FC Edmonton coach Colin Miller told NASL.com. “They’re a good side at home and they keep working and if you’d asked if I’d be happy to come to Tampa and get a point I’d say I would.”
The Rowdies next visit the Atlanta Silverbacks on Saturday. The Eddies welcome the Cosmos on Sunday to Clarke Stadium for a chance to leap frog over the Long Island side.
What did you think of Week 4? Impressed with Shriver’s continued scoring? Were you surprised to see the Cosmos steal another late winner? Do you see the Silverbacks rebounding from their loss? Can the Eddies contend for the fall title?
Share your thoughts below.