By EVAN REAM
A vital three points are at stake Saturday as the struggling New York Cosmos and Atlanta Silverbacks meet in a rematch of the 2013 NASL Soccer Bowl at Hoftstra Stadium.
Coming off a loss to then bottom-of-the table Indy Eleven, the Silverbacks desperately need a result as they sit five points behind fourth place Tampa Bay for the final playoff berth in the combined Spring and Fall table.
Loanee Danny Mwanga will look to continue his song start to his NASL career for the defending-champion Cosmos where the former MLS No. 1 overall draft pick opened his scoring account in the previous week, scoring the winner against Fort Lauderdale.
The Cosmos currently hold the third seed in the playoffs, but have compiled just a 3-3-4 record, while scoring just four goals in five games at home during the Fall Championship.
Here’s a look at the rest of the action taking place in the NASL Saturday:
CAROLINA RAILHAWKS vs. SAN ANTONIO SCORPIONS
First place San Antonio travels to North Carolina looking to extend their stranglehold on the Fall Championship and the automatic playoff berth that comes with finishing first.
The teams are coming off results from opposite ends of the spectrum as the Scorpions easily defeated Edmonton at home, while the Railhawks gave up a controversial goal in the last play of the game to merely draw Ottawa.
Currently struggling in the fall season, Carolina can still make a push towards the NASL playoffs as a win could put the Railhawks into a playoff position if Tampa Bay and Fort Lauderdale fail to garner results.
INDY ELEVEN – EDMONTON
Nineteen games into club history, Indy Eleven has failed to give its strong group of fans what they want most – a win at home.
The Midwestern club has a chance to finally please its home fans, and procure the first winning streak in franchise history, when they take on the Canadian side in Indianapolis Saturday.
Edmonton will be shorthanded for the match as Eddies defender Eddie Edward and midfielder Cristian Raudales are both suspended due to red cards they received in their blowout loss to San Antonio last week.
TAMPA BAY ROWDIES – OTTAWA FURY
Since joining the league this year, Ottawa has struggled to compile good results, with just three victories in the spring season and just one thus far in the fall.
That single victory though, came two weeks ago at home against Tampa Bay, who are win-less in their last three games after starting the season 5-1-0.
Both teams received solid signs last week in grinding out draws: the Fury scored a last-second goal to tie it and 2013 NASL MVP Georgi Hristov looked to finally be rounding himself into his great form of last year as he found himself on the score sheet for just the sixth time of the season.
MINNESOTA UNITED – FORT LAUDERDALE STRIKERS
The final match-up of the night could end up proving the most meaningful. While Minnesota has already clinched a playoff spot thanks to their 6-1-2 record in the spring season, United has fallen one point behind San Antonio for the top spot in the combined season.
Minnesota will look to regain that spot, but host the Strikers who are just one point out of a playoff spot themselves.
Both teams are coming off of disappointing results and will look for a quick turnaround at the National Sports Center in Blaine, Minnesota.