After a midsummer break, the NASL is set to return with a new franchise and several new-look teams.
Expansion side Puerto Rico FC is set to play the club’s inaugural game on Saturday as Juan Ramón Loubriel Stadium plays host to Spring champions Indy Eleven. While Puerto Rico FC may be the league’s newest side, one of their expansion partners, Miami FC, was the side with the busiest summer.
Kwadwo Poku, Michael Lahoud, Richie Ryan and Gabriel Farfan are now counted as part of a new-look Miami FC’s roster, a group that was overhauled once it became clear the club was not ready to compete with the league’s contenders. After a last-place finish in the Spring, Miami FC pays a visit to the rival Fort Lauderdale Strikers to start the Fall campaign.
Here’s a closer look at this weekend’s NASL action:
FORT LAUDERDALE STRIKERS vs. MIAMI FC (Saturday, 7 p.m., ESPN 3)
Miami FC was not a good team in the Spring, and the front office constructed a new-look side with that fact in mind.
Seeking the club’s first away win, Miami FC takes on a Strikers team that lost just one of their last six Spring season games. The two sides will collide for the second time this season following a 1-1 draw in their season opener. With Poku, Lahoud, Farfan and Ryan now leading the charge, Miami FC will rely on one of the league’s top midfields, at least on paper, heading into the Fall. However, the Strikers will be riding high following a U.S. Open Cup upset over Orlando City that propelled the NASL club into the competition’s quarterfinals.
NEW YORK COSMOS vs. OTTAWA FURY FC (Saturday, 7 p.m., ONE World Sports)
In a rematch of last season’s NASL final, the New York Cosmos play host to Ottawa Fury FC to open the Fall.
After falling just short of the Spring crown, the Cosmos will look to take care of business in the Fall en route to the postseason. Despite the departure of Niko Kranjcar, the Cosmos still boast a talented midfield unit featuring Juan Arango and Danny Szetela, the latter of whom led the team to a U.S. Open Cup win over New York City FC before their exit at the hands of the New England Revolution on Wednesday. Fury FC, meanwhile, have added defender Eddie Edward, who will look to help the club recover some of the magic of last year’s Fall run
PUERTO RICO FC vs. INDY ELEVEN (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., ESPN 3)
Puerto Rico FC’s debut match comes against one of the league’s most difficult opponents.
The expansion club, owned by New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony, joins the fray against an Indy Eleven team still riding high from a miraculous Spring Season crown. Led by goalscorer and Spring hero Eamon Zayed, the Eleven are unbeaten in league play this season and will now head into the fall with the services of former Mexico standout Gerardo Torrado.
TAMPA BAY ROWDIES vs. JACKSONVILLE ARMADA (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., beIN SPORTS)
Another all-Florida clash helps to kickstart the Fall campaign, as the Tampa Bay Rowdies host the Jacksonville Armada.
Tony Meola’s Armada endured a difficult Spring season, but have added the Swedish duo Alexander Andersson and Nicklas Maripuu to boost their roster. The Rowdies will look to continue to ride the momentum created by an addition of their own, as Joe Cole continues to work his way into a talented Rowdies team.
MINNESOTA UNITED vs. CAROLINA RAILHAWKS (Saturday, 8 p.m., ESPN 3)
The Carolina RailHawks were one of the league’s hottest teams to star the Spring before fizzling out of the race down the home stretch. Now, as the Fall season kicks off, the RailHawks look to get back on track against of the league’s best.
Winless since April, the RailHawks visit Minnesota United to start the Fall with new forward Matthew Fondy a potential option to lead the line. Minnesota United boast a roster as strong as any, with Cristian Ramirez leading the line as one of the league’s premier goalscorers. Alongside Ramirez, the Loons will rely on Stefano Pinho, who netted a trio of goals in the Spring.
RAYO OKC vs. FC EDMONTON (Saturday, 9 p.m., CBS Sports Network)
The Spring campaign was an up-and-down experience for Rayo OKC, who look to jump back into the postseason race in the Fall.
Boasting a talented roster featuring Georgios Samaras, Robbie Findley and Michel, Rayo OKC amassed 12 points from 10 games, with the former FC Dallas midfielder netting a team-leading five goals. The Eddies sealed three more points throughout their Spring run, just one point behind Spring champion Indy Eleven.
Availability on CBS Sports is definitely a positive step for the league. More over the air exposure beats the PPV availability or lack thereof of MLS saturday night games.
Not sure why Samaras doesn’t start for Oklahoma.
Rowdies v. Jax was a sellout crowd over about 8K. Not too bad…