By MIKE GRAMAJO
One of the North American Soccer League’s marquee rivalries will be renewed on Saturday when the Ft. Lauderdale play host to the Tampa Bay Rowdies at Lockhart Stadium for the first of two Florida Derbies this season.
The Strikers have yet to win this season in the NASL, losing two straight matches on the road where they conceded five goal. While the Rowdies are entering this weekend’s action after blowing a 3-1 home lead against Atlanta in a 4-3 loss.
“After a disappointing loss against Atlanta, it is crucial we get the three points at Ft. Lauderdale,” said Tampa Bay Head Coach Ricky Hill. “Rivalries are always a match of their own and against the Strikers it has always been an intense match for the entire 90 minutes.”
Tampa’s Luke Mulholland has two goals and two assists, grabbing a brace in last week’s shocked against Atlanta, meanwhile Ft. Lauderdale’s Jemal Johnson will look to go into the derby and start some momentum after just having one goal scored for the Strikers this season.
Here is a look at this weekend’s other match-ups in the NASL:
SILVERBACKS HOST MINNESOTA UNITED
While the Carolina RailHawks have a bye-week this weekend, the Atlanta Silverbacks look to go two points clear above the RailHawks at the top of the NASL table when they host Minnesota United FC, Saturday night.
Atlanta, who have won their first two games, will go into the game without Forward Jahbari Willis when he picked up a red card in last week’s comeback victory in St. Petersburg.
“We hope to establish home field advantage and continue our streak of winning, and we want to continue to get our guys in a good position to feel confident and play confident,” said Atlanta coach Brian Haynes.
Minnesota, however, look to pick up their first road win after starting off the season at home, which saw them go unbeaten, earning one win and one draw.
“I think there’s a little tension. It’s our first road trip. There’s a nice confidence, but there’s also some nervousness after our last training session before we travel,” said Minnesota Head Coach Manny lagos. “Every year is a different story, and this team is learning about itself, and you learn a lot about your character when you’re on the road.”
EDMONTON AND SAN ANTONIO LOOK FOR FIRST WIN
Both FC Edmonton and San Antonio haven’t had the season they hoped for since the NASL started four weeks ago.
The Rabbits, who have yet to win this season, suffered another loss, losing 3-2 against Major League Soccer side Vancouver Whitecaps FC during the first leg of the 2013 Amway Canadian Championship on Wednesday.
While San Antonio, who opened up their new 8,000 seat stadium, have also failed to win there and on the road.
Edmonton look to break their curse of bad runs after losing 2-0 last week during NASL play when they visited the Minnesota’s Metrodome. San Antonio are entering the weekend after having a bye-week last week in hopes of winning against a slumpy Edmonton Side.