By EVAN REAM
A possible Soccer Bowl preview highlights the action this weekend in the NASL as first-place San Antonio hosts second-place Minnesota on Saturday at Toyota Field.
With a win, the Scorpions can take a one point lead in the combined table, while United can take the top spot in the fall season with a win of their own.
The two teams have been far and away the best teams in the fall. They are the only two teams who have a goal differential better than +1.
In order to garner a positive result, San Antonio will need to slow down Minnesota striker Christian Ramirez, who has already scored a club-record 15 goals, including two goals in the past two games.
As winners of the Spring Championship, United has already claimed a playoff spot, but is still fighting for the No. 1 overall seed while the Scorpions are looking to move closer to the four-team playoff field.
Here’s a look at the rest of the weekend’s action in NASL:
ATLANTA SILVERBACKS vs. OTTAWA FURY
Not only does this weekend feature a top-of-the table matchup, but there is a bottom-of-table match as well. The Silverbacks host the Fury with a vital three points at stake if either team hopes to climb out of the cellar and into a playoff position as the season enters its stretch run.
The two struggling sides have combined for just five wins in 20 games in the fall season.
The Silverbacks are coming off a rough loss to the Cosmos in a rematch of the 2013 Soccer Bowl. Ottawa won just its second game of the fall season last week when they defeated the Rowdies, 2-0 in Tampa Bay.
CAROLINA RAILHAWKS vs. NEW YORK COSMOS
Fresh off a surprising win against San Antonio, the Railhawks will look to close the gap on the Cosmos. New York sits in third place in the combined standings, leading fourth-place Carolina by eight points with nine games to play.
After starting the fall season indifferently, New York is unbeaten in its last four and will look to continue their run of good form through Mads Stokkelien. The Norwegian forward has broken out in recent weeks, scoring three of his six goals in the unbeaten streak.
FORT LAUDERDALE STRIKERS vs. INDY ELEVEN
Coming off a tough loss to in-form Minnesota United, the Strikers will look to get back into a top-four place in the combined table with a win against struggling Indy Eleven, who have yet to win at home in their inaugural season.
Indy is likely out of the playoffs as they are 11 points behind a playoff spot with just 10 games remaining, but the expansion side is unbeaten in their last three games. They could make a late run to appease the strong group of fans who have followed the team in their NASL debut.
FC EDMONTON vs. TAMPA BAY ROWDIES
The only Sunday fixture of the weekend sees a matchup of two sides coming off disappointing results – Edmonton drew listless Indy Eleven while Tampa Bay lost at home to last place Ottawa.
Just three points separate the sides in the combined standings. A Tampa Bay win could put the Rowdies into a playoff position while an Edmonton win would see the Eddies jump past the Florida side in the standings.
Which match are you most anticipating? Think the Cosmos can stay hot?
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