By COLE KELLOGG
The New York Cosmos have the chance on Sunday to take three points from the Carolina RailHawks for the second time in a week.
Gio Savarese’s men posted a 3-1 win in North Carolina last weekend, and will relish the chance to further close the gap on the league-leading Ottawa Fury. A man of the match performance from Leo Fernandes led the Cosmos in that game.
FC Edmonton will travel to Atlanta to play the Silverbacks on Saturday, with both teams currently sitting on 15 points. The winner will end the weekend in the top four, while the loser would drop further into mid-table.
The first-place Ottawa Fury will be looking to pile on the grief against the dead-last Tampa Bay Rowdies at home. After firing head coach Thomas Rongen just before last weekend, the Rowdies fell at home in a 3-1 loss to Minnesota United. The Fury, settled for a draw against the Cosmos midweek, have a chance to come back with a bang against the league’s worst team.
Elsewhere this week, Indy Eleven will face the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in an attempt to earn a result for their third-straight game, and the Jacksonville Armada will host the San Antonio Scorpions.
Here’s a closer look at NASL action this weekend:
OTTAWA FURY vs. TAMPA BAY ROWDIES (Saturday, 7 p.m., WatchESPN)
Ottawa Fury FC missed out on the action last weekend, and the Cosmos and Minnesota United inched closer to first place as a result. The Canadian side then missed a golden opportunity on Wednesday to silent the Cosmos at home, with New York earning a point on the road. Now, Marc Dos Santos must prepare his side to thrash the Rowdies and keep a steady lead in the table.
The Canadian team will look to Andrew Wiedeman, who has scored three times in three matches, to lead them past the Rowdies this weekend. It would be no surprise for Fury fans to see Sinisa Ubiparipovic play a role as well, with the Bosnian midfielder tallying four assists this season.
The Rowdies, under new head coach Stuart Campbell, will spearhead an attempt to salvage their season on the road to the league’s top side.
Campbell has been with the Rowdies in some capacity since 2011, so the team’s recent struggles resonate as closely with him as any of the players. Maicon Santos has been a lone bright spot on the field in Tampa Bay recently, scoring four in the last six matches for the Rowdies.
ATLANTA SILVERBACKS vs. FC EDMONTON (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., WatchESPN)
Both teams sit on 15 points just behind the league’s elite sides, and a win for either on Saturday could spark a late season surge.
The Atlanta Silverbacks are winless in their last three games, but Gary Smith will be looking for his men to get back to fluency in the attack against FC Edmonton this weekend. Pedro Mendes has four goals in the last five games for the Silverbacks. Before Mendes’ recent run of form, Jaime Chavez carried the attack for Atlanta and has five goals this season.
FC Edmonton was on a three-game unbeaten streak before suffering a 2-0 home loss to the Fort Lauderdale Strikers last time out. Tomi Ameobi has scored three times in the last four games for the Eddies.
Edmonton will no doubt need a victory if the team is to stay in the conversation as the season reaches the home stretch.
FORT LAUDERDALE STRIKERS vs. INDY ELEVEN (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., WatchESPN)
Indy Eleven travels south this weekend to try and pick up a result in a third straight match as they face the Fort Lauderdale Strikers.
After a five-game winless streak, the Eleven have now picked up four points in two matches against the Rowdies and the Silverbacks. Dane Richards scored and drew a free kick that Erick Norales put home against the Rowdies, and then a penalty from the New York Red Bulls loanee secured a point for Indy against the Silverbacks.
A brace from Stefano Pinho gave Fort Lauderdale three much needed points against FC Edmonton last weekend. Pinho was on the scoresheet the weekend earlier as well, accompanied by James Marcelin in a 2-1 win over the Rowdies. The Brazilian Pinho has recorded nine goals in the league in 2015, putting the dynamic forward just one behind Omar Cummings in the race for the golden boot.
JACKSONVILLE ARMADA vs. SAN ANTONIO SCORPIONS (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., WatchESPN)
After the Scorpions scraped out a 1-0 home win against the Armada last weekend, the Floridian newcomers will have a chance to level the score at home.
It was Billy Forbes who put home the 64th minute winner, coolly slotting home from a smooth Tyler Gibson assist. Forbes has played an important role in the team’s attack, managing six assists for the Scorpions. Omar Cummings has been the star for the Scorpions in 2015, though, scoring 10 league goals so far.
Jacksonville has certainly found attacking fluidity over their last five games, with four players scoring two or more goals since July 31. Alhassane Keita leads the pack with three goals scored in that time, with Jemal Johnson, Akeil Barrett and Jaime Castrillon all tallying twice.
To win at home, though, the Armada will need a stronger defensive effort than they have recently put together, as the team has allowed seven goals in that stretch of games.
NEW YORK COSMOS vs. CAROLINA RAILHAWKS (Sunday, 4 p.m., WatchESPN)
The New York Cosmos can continue to mount their challenge for NASL supremacy with another win over the Carolina RailHawks this weekend.
The Cosmos have recorded an impressive 15 points in their last seven matches after a poor start to the fall season. Leo Fernandes has been outrageous for the team, scoring in four of the last six matches. Walter Restrepo and Andres Mejia have also starred for the Cosmos down that stretch of results.
The RailHawks have lost four straight road matches, giving up 10 goals over that stretch. The side has failed in the attack since July, scoring only twice in four games in August. Fans will hope that a performance from the team’s all-star Tiyi Shipalane can propel the RailHawks to an unlikely away win.