Week 1 of the NASL season is in the books, and the reigning champions emerged as the big winners.
The New York Cosmos cruised in their season opener, thrashing Ottawa Fury FC, 3-0, in a rematch of last year’s final. Several other contenders were not so lucky, as the Tampa Bay Rowdies settled for a scoreless draw while Minnesota United fell in an opening week loss to the Carolina RailHawks.
The league’s two expansion sides took to the field with similar results. Rayo OKC was forced into a 0-0 draw despite playing up a man, while Miami FC conceded a late penalty kick to settle for a draw of its own in the club’s first NASL game.
Here’s a look at the SBI NASL Power Rankings for Week 1:
SBI NASL Power Rankings
1 (Last Week-1). NEW YORK COSMOS (1-0-0)
LAST WEEK: Defeated Ottawa Fury FC, 3-0, on Sunday
THIS WEEK: vs. Jacksonville Armada on Sunday
OUTLOOK: The Cosmos were flat out dominant in their first showing of the season. Juan Arango looked spectacular in netting a pair of goals, while fellow newcomer Jairo Arrieta proved dynamic from the forward position. Even with key pieces like Danny Szetela and Yasmani Duk out of the lineup, the Cosmos’ new-look starting XI looked very strong in the team’s first game.
2 (4). CAROLINA RAILHAWKS (1-0-0)
LAST WEEK: Defeated Minnesota United, 2-1, on Saturday
THIS WEEK: at Rayo OKC on Saturday
OUTLOOK: The RailHawks looked very sharp in Week 1, and did well to bounce back from Christian Ramirez’s early-game golazo. Renowned for their defense, the RailHawks were very strong at the back and conceded very little to a strong Minnesota United team. Following Simon Mensing’s red card and an injury to Kareem Moses, the RailHawks face their first true test of depth already in Week 2.
3(2). MINNESOTA UNITED (0-1-0)
LAST WEEK: Lost, 2-1, to Carolina RailHawks on Saturday
THIS WEEK: at FC Edmonton on Sunday
OUTLOOK: Christian Ramirez electrified with an early-season Goal of the Year contender, but it wasn’t enough for the Loons to beat a stout RailHawks team. Playing without midfield star Ibson, Minnesota United was certainly outplayed in Week 1. Still, on the road and with so many new pieces, it’s hard to knock the Loons too much. Players like Stefano Pinho, Lance Laing and Ben Speas will certainly come good, making the Week 1 loss a slight blip to start the year.
4 (3). TAMPA BAY ROWDIES (0-0-1)
LAST WEEK: Tied Indy Eleven, 0-0, on Saturday
THIS WEEK: at Miami FC on Saturday
OUTLOOK: Although they were likely the better team throughout, the Rowdies failed to muster up a goal against Indy Eleven in their season opener. Tampa Bay’s forwards struggled for crispness, which was a deficiency that held the Rowdies back all last season. There were some positives to take away from a strong defensive performance, but the Rowdies will expect more going forward.
5(5). RAYO OKC (0-0-1)
LAST WEEK: Tied FC Edmonton, 0-0, on Saturday
THIS WEEK: vs. Carolina RailHawks on Saturday
OUTLOOK: Despite having a man advantage for a majority of Saturday’s clash, Rayo OKC just couldn’t find a goal against FC Edmonton. The chemistry wasn’t quite there, as was to be expected, and Rayo OKC never quite looked on the same page tactically. Georgios Samaras looked strong in his brief cameo, though.
6 (6). JACKSONVILLE ARMADA (0-0-0)
LAST WEEK: BYE
THIS WEEK: at New York Cosmos on Sunday
OUTLOOK: The Armada were the odd team out in Week 1, giving them an extra week off before starting their Spring campaign. A trip to Shuart Stadium to face the Cosmos ensures that Tony Meola’s first contest in charge will be a difficult one.
7 (8). INDY ELEVEN (0-0-1)
LAST WEEK: Tied Tampa Bay Rowdies, 0-0, on Saturday
THIS WEEK: vs. Ottawa Fury FC on Saturday
OUTLOOK: Facing a team projected for success, Indy Eleven did well to keep a talented Rowdies attack at bay for 90 minutes. It certainly wasn’t pretty on the eyes, but the third-year franchise bunkered down and handled its business on the road. With a good result to start the season, Tim Hankinson’s side returns to an always-passionate Indy crowd for a meeting with Fury FC.
8 (9). MIAMI FC (0-0-1)
LAST WEEK: Tied Fort Lauderdale Strikers, 1-1, on Saturday
THIS WEEK: vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies on Saturday
OUTLOOK: Hampered by a first half red card to Jorge Luis Corrales, Miami FC held on to earn a point against its Florida rival. Aside from an early Dario Cvitnich penalty kick, Miami FC never got much going in the club’s first NASL game. A few counters looked solid, but the late penalty conceded ended the game on a sour tone for a team that should have opened with a win.
9 (7). FORT LAUDERDALE STRIKERS (0-0-1)
LAST WEEK: Tied Miami FC, 1-1, on Saturday
THIS WEEK: BYE
OUTLOOK: The Strikers and Miami FC exchanged penalty kicks, with the former relying on a late spot kick to record an opening-week point. Playing against 10-man Miami FC, the Strikers dominated the ball but were repeatedly hit on the counter by the expansion side. Not an ideal first showing for the Strikers, who will have a week to analyze before returning to action.
10 (11). FC EDMONTON (0-0-1)
LAST WEEK: Tied Rayo OKC, 0-0, on Saturday
THIS WEEK: vs. Minnesota United on Sunday
OUTLOOK: Down a man, FC Edmonton’ stingy defense helped earn the team an opening week draw. Following captain Matt Watson’s ejection, the Eddies’ back line all but locked down Rayo OKC and yielded few looks that didn’t come from self-inflicted mistakes. The Eddies will need to keep all 11 men on the field this weekend for a much bigger challenge against Minnesota United.
11 (10). OTTAWA FURY FC
LAST WEEK: Lost, 3-0, to New York Cosmos on Sunday
THIS WEEK: At Indy Eleven on Saturday
OUTLOOK: It was an ugly, ugly NASL title game rematch for Fury FC. Undone three times by the Cosmos, Fury FC never looked truly competitive. Most concerning, though, were the mistakes made by Romuald Peiser, one of the top goalkeepers in the league in 2015. The reigning runner-up will need to lock things down defensively if they hope to compete this season.
What do you think of the SBI NASL Power Rankings? Are the Cosmos the top dogs? Disagree with any of the placements here?
Share your thoughts below.