By EVAN REAM
In a matchup of first- and second-place teams, Minnesota United proved that they’re the cream of the crop in the NASL with a 2-0 away win over the San Antonio Scorpions at Toyota Field.
Minnesota United midfielder Miguel Ibarra scored both goals against the Scorpions to take playoff-bound Minnesota to the top of both the Fall and combined standings.
The match was fairly even, with possession split down the middle, making Ibarra’s brace and strong goalkeeping from Matt Van Oekel the difference in garnering all three points.
The Minnesota goalkeeper made seven saves to preserve the shutout in the ESPN3-televised match that lived up to the hype surrounding it.
Here’s a look back at the rest of the weekend’s action in the NASL:
RAILHAWKS TAKE DOWN COSMOS AS TEAMS COMBINE FOR NINE SECOND-HALF GOALS
The Carolina RailHawks emphatically closed the gap on the New York Cosmos on Saturday, picking up a 5-4 victory to move just five points behind the third-place Cosmos.
Real Salt Lake loanee Devon Sandoval played hero for the RailHawks, scoring two well-taken goals.
The Cosmos were clinical in their finishing, managing four goals from just five shots on target.
The nine combined goals were the most scored in NASL in nearly a year.
FIRST-MINUTE GOAL LEADS STRIKERS OVER INDY ELEVEN
One day after the sale of the team to three Brazilian investors was announced, the Strikers moved closer to a playoff position thanks to a 2-1 home win over Indy Eleven that was more dominant than the scoreline suggests.
Forward Fafa Picault open the scoring for the hosts in just the first minute of the match with the fastest goal in the NASL this year.
Bottom-of-the-table Indy got back into the game six minutes before halftime when Jaime Frias finished off a corner kick to level the match.
Martin Nuñez dribbled past Indy goalkeeper Kristian Nict 10 minutes after the break to give the new Strikers’ owners something to celebrate: three points.
FURY FC DOMINATE SILVERBACKS
With just one win in their past six matches, the Atlanta Silverbacks are in free-fall coming off a season where they were the NASL’s runners-up.
In the only away victory of the weekend, fellow cellar-dwellers Ottawa Fury FC defeated the Silverbacks 3-0. The Fury opened the scoring in just the third minute of the match when Pierre-Rudolph Mayard tapped a ball in after good interplay from the Canadian side.
Forwards Oliver and Carl Haworth added insurance goals to help Ottawa to their seventh point in three games after garnering just five points in their first eight matches of the fall season.
LIANG GOAL LEADS FC EDMONTON OVER ROWDIES
Sunday’s lone match saw FC Edmonton take all three points from a Tampa Bay side that is winless in its last three league matches.
Eddies midfielder Lance Liang provided the only goal of the match, finishing past former MLS goalkeeper Matt Pickens in the 64th minute after a give-and-go with teammate Neil Hlavaty.
The result saw Edmonton pass the Rowdies in the combined standings. The Canadian side now sits just four points out of a playoff position.
What did you think of NASL Week 6? Which results stood out to you?