By MIKE GRAMAJO
Two second-half goals from Georgi Hristov was all the Tampa Bay Rowdies needed to stroll to a 3-1 victory over the Atlanta Silverbacks at Al Lang Stadium.
The victory on Saturday lifted the Rowdies into second place, which sets up a mouth-watering matchup next Sunday against the first-place New York Cosmos.
“We had to adjust and it didn’t seem to affect us, but we had to be resilient late in the game when Atlanta threw everything at us,” Rowdies coach Ricky Hill told NASL.com. “We came out with the right mentality and the game came to us, but I didn’t like the way we were having to hold on at the end.”
Hristov opened up the scoresheet when he put the Rowdies up 1-0 in the 54th minute, only to double the lead three minutes later when he headed in a Luke Mulholland corner kick. Shane Hill’s strike in the 65th minute put the game to bed, before Horace James added a consolation goal for Bryan Haynes’ side in the 75th minute.
Here’s a closer look at the rest of Week 8 action:
COSMOS DOWN STRIKERS AT LOCKHART
The Cosmos picked a great time to win their first road match of the season on Saturday evening.
Two first-half goals from Diomar Diaz helped keep the Cosmos atop the NASL standings as they defeated the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, 2-0, in front of 7,653 fans at Lockhart Stadium.
“The team worked very hard to get a good win, an important win,” Cosmos manager Giovanni Savarese told the clubs website. “He [Diomar Diaz] had a tremendous game, he scored two beautiful goals. When you score two early goals, that helps a lot.”
Diaz opened up the scoring eight minutes into the match, after midfielder Ayoze’s cross found the Venezuelan for the diving header. Diaz bagged his brace in the 34th minute after Sebastian Guenzatti’s shot was deflected off Strikers goalkeeper Richard Sanchez, which allowed Diaz to capitalize on the mistake into an open goal.
SCORPIONS BAG FIRST VICTORY, UPSET RAILHAWKS
Late season blunders may cost the Carolina RailHawks their ticket for Soccer Bowl 2013.
Hans Denissen’s stoppage-time penalty kick lifted the San Antonio Scorpions to their first win in the fall season, defeating the RailHawks, 2-1, at Toyota Field.
After Kevin Rutkiewics gave the Colin Clarke’s men an early 1-0 lead in the 14th minute, Tomasz Zahorski leveled the match for the Scorpions in the 53rd minute when his shot toward the right corner beat RailHawks goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald.
Just when the match looked like it was ending in a draw, a handball was called in the RailHawks penalty area. Dennisen stepped up to the spot and scored the penalty kick for his 12th goal of the season, tying the golden boot race with RailHawks forward Brian Shriver, who didn’t play due to a concussion.
UNITED TAKE ROAD WIN AT EDMONTON
Minnesota United’s road victory at Edmonton may just turn things around for Manny Lagos’ side.
Calum Mallace and Simone Bracalello provided both goals for United as they took a 2-1 road victory against the Eddies, which saw the home side lose their first home match since May.
Mallace’s volley in the first half that gave United the lead, but it was Bracalello’s 63rd minute goal that proved to be decisive when the Argentine’s shot went through Eddies goalkeeper Lance Parker for the 2-0 lead. Edmonton responded with a goal of their own when Daryl Fordyce smashed Antonio Rago’s cross in stoppage-time.
- New York Cosmos – 15 points
- Tampa Bay Rowdies – 14 points
- Carolina RailHawks – 11 points
- Minnesota United – 11 points
- Ft. Lauderdale Strikers – 11 points
- Atlanta Silverbacks – 10 points
- FC Edmonton – 8 points
- San Antonio Scorpions – 4 points
What did you think of Week 8? Are you surprised to see the Rowdies still unbeaten? Do you the Cosmos going to Soccer Bowl 2013? Can the RailHawks break out of their funk? Do you see Minnesota United turning things around?
Share your thoughts below.