Six clubs entered the penultimate weekend of the NASL Fall Season with a chance at the final playoff spot, but only two walked out with those chances still alive.
Rayo OKC can secure their spot in the postseason next weekend with a draw after their victory this weekend over the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. Rayo holds a three point advantage for fourth place over Minnesota United. The Loons failed to keep pace with OKC as the MLS-bound franchise lost away to the Carolina RailHawks.
Here are the highlights of what was an important weekend in the NASL.
RAYO STRIKES TWICE TO TAKE FOURTH
Rayo OKC scored two second half goals at Central Broward Stadium to beat the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, 2-0.
Rayo scored early in the second half when Sebastien Ibeagha slotted home a ball into the back of the Strikers’ net. Pecka finished off his former team to make it 2-0 to the visitors in second half stoppage time. OKC’s 2-0 victory extended the club’s unbeaten streak to nine matches.
The victory for Rayo OKC leaves them in sole possession of fourth place in the combined standings to claim the last postseason spot for the time being. The Strikers were eliminated with the result on Saturday night. Minnesota United are the only other club in contention for that spot, as the Loons sit three back of Rayo going into the final weekend.
MINNESOTA UNITED LOSES GROUND WITH LOSS
Matt Fondy’s 52nd minute goal was the lone shot to make it into the net at WakeMed Soccer Park as the Carolina RailHawks beat Minnesota United, 1-0. Despite the victory Carolina have been eliminated with Rayo OKC’s victory in South Florida.
Minnesota failed to gain the three points necessary to keep pace with Rayo OKC in the hunt for fourth place, but they are still alive going into the last weekend of the fall season. The Loons are three points behind Rayo as both clubs have one more match on the docket.
The Loons host the league champions, the New York Cosmos, next weekend in a must-win match to keep their postseason hopes alive.
COSMOS THUMP MIAMI
The New York Cosmos defeated the Miami FC, 4-0, at Shuart Stadium on Saturday night to cement their status of title favorites before the playoffs begin. The loss eliminated Miami FC from playoff contention.
New York scored two goals within the matches’ first 10 minutes to give an early lead for their homes fans, while late first half goals by Juan Arango and Yohandry Orozco left Miami in a 4-0 hole at the break.
The Cosmos brought their home unbeaten streak to a league-record 19 games with the victory.
INDY CRUISES PAST PUERTO RICO
Indy Eleven continued their home dominance and current hot streak with a 3-0 victory over Puerto Rico FC at Carroll Stadium.
The Eleven finish the season with a 13-3-0 home record and a chance to play spoiler as they face off against fourth place Rayo OKC next weekend. The Indianapolis-based club will host FC Edmonton in The Championship Semifinals on Nov. 5.
ROWDIES, FURY DRAW
The Tampa Bay Rowdies failed to defeat a reeling Ottawa Fury squad at Al Lang Stadium as the two sides drew, 1-1. The draw, and other results from around the NASL, eliminated the Rowdies from postseason contention.
Georgi Hristov and Maxim Tissot padded their season stat total as both squads failed to capitalize on key chances. Despite Rowdies defender Darnell King being sent off in the 27th minute, the Fury failed to show much of an advantage in the second half.
The Fury ended a four-game losing streak with the draw on Florida’s western coast.
EDDIES EDGE ARMADA
FC Edmonton continued preparation for their first playoff berth in over five years with a 1-0 victory over the Jacksonville Armada. The defeat over Jacksonville broke a two-match winless streak for the Alberta club.
Eddies goalkeeper Matt VanOekel returned to the starting lineup and knotted his 16th shutout of the year. VanOeker will have a chance to pad that to 17 matches when Edmonton travel to Miami FC next Friday night for their Fall Season finale.
The Eddies will play at Indy Eleven in a semifinal match on Saturday, Nov. 5.