By MIKE GRAMAJO
Looking to snap their four-game winless streak, the Fort Lauderdale Strikers welcome the Tampa Bay Rowdies to Lockhart Stadium on Saturday evening (7:30 p.m. WATCH HERE) in a Florida Derby with big implications.
Both sides suffered crucial away defeats last week, which may have hindered their chances of finishing as fall champions. After leading 3-1 at halftime, the Rowdies squandered their lead, falling to the New York Cosmos, 4-3, at James Shuart Stadium. The Strikers meanwhile took a 2-0 defeat to the Carolina RailHawks at WakeMed Soccer Park.
“We couldn’t ask for Saturday’s match to come soon enough,” Rowdies manager Ricky Hill told NASL.com. “To play in a local derby is always special and it’s a fantastic opportunity to begin another streak which we will need if we want to make it to the Soccer Bowl.”
The last time the Rowdies and Strikers faced off was back in July, which saw the Rowdies take a 4-0 victory at Al Lang Stadium. The Rowdies sit in second place with 14 points, three points clear from the Strikers, who have 11 points and sit in sixth place.
Here’s a closer look at this weekend’s NASL matchups:
MINNESOTA HOPE TO HALT SURGING COSMOS (Saturday, 8:00 pm WATCH HERE)
Manny Lagos and his Minnesota United FC look to dwindle the New York Cosmos’ hopes of winning the NASL Fall title when both sides meet at the National Sports Center Stadium on Saturday evening.
“We have created a great legacy here and the Cosmos are trying to reinvigorate their legacy. I think it’s an exciting weekend for Minnesota soccer,” Lagos told NASL.com. “You take the competitive side, where it’s a pivotal point in the season for us and really pivotal in terms of continuing to play well at home and keep moving forward as a team.”
Despite an earlier meeting this season that saw the Cosmos take a 1-0 victory, the match in Blaine, Minnesota will be reminiscent for many soccer fans that witnessed the Minnesota Kicks and Strikers play the Cosmos in the first installment of the North American Soccer League.
SILVERBACKS VISIT SCORPIONS (Saturday, 8:30 p.m. WATCH HERE)
The dream for a more suitable fall season may be far from reality, but the San Antonio Scorpions can edge a bit closer to that when they host the spring champion Atlanta Silverbacks at Toyota Field.
“The team is focused on getting points in every match to close out the season,” Scorpions interim coach Alen Marcina told NASL.com. “Atlanta is obviously a good side and will present a challenge, but we have to go out there focused on three points.”
Despite losing on the road last week, the Scorpions eye a second consecutive victory at Toyota Field this season. While the Silverbacks have their ticket punched for the Soccer Bowl in November, they look to build momentum after earning a 1-0 victory last week.
RAILHAWKS AND EDDIES CLASH (Sunday, 4:00 p.m. WATCH HERE)
After a crucial defeat last week at Atlanta, FC Edmonton return to Clarke Stadium to host the Carolina RailHawks.
“It was a disappointing loss to a quality Atlanta side on Saturday and now we have to bounce back,” Eddies manager Colin Miller told NASL.com “We still have 15 points to play for this season and nobody on this team is giving up. We’ll have to be at our best against Carolina this weekend.”
Colin Clarke’s men may have a tough task when they head north of the border. Edmonton currently hold one of the best home records at home, which doesn’t make the RailHawks job any easy since they haven’t won their last 12 away games.
What do you think of Week 10? Do you think the Rowdies can top the Strikers? Can the Cosmos extend their lead in the standings? Do you believe the Scorpions can win at home? Can the RailHawks walk away from Clarke Stadium with a victory?
Share your thoughts below.