By MIKE GRAMAJO
Despite being statistically out of the NASL Soccer Bowl race, the Fort Lauderdale Strikers haven’t given up on their season yet.
The Strikers ran riot on Saturday night, thrashing the Atlanta Silverbacks, 6-2, at Lockhart Stadium, which finished the chances of the Silverbacks winning the fall title.
“It was an interesting game to watch and everything was exciting,” Strikers head coach Gunter Kronsteiner told NASL.com. “I think the other team underestimated us and we were motivated. Nobody can come to Fort Lauderdale and say they can beat this team easily.”
With the Strikers leading 2-1 at halftime, the South Florida club went on to score four unanswered goals. Midfielder Carlos Salazar added the third goal for Strikers off a penalty kick in the 53rd minute, which followed by Yaikel Perez to secure his brace ten minutes later when he found Ivan Guerrero’s cross as he slid the ball toward the net.
Sloppy defense from the Silverbacks resulted into more goals, as Bradlee Baladez made it 5-1 in the 67th minute and scored his second in the 82nd minute after a breakaway lead by Guerrero found the on-loan FC Dallas striker to put the final frosting on the victory.
Here’s a closer look at the rest of this weekend’s slate in NASL:
EDDIES HOLD COSMOS FROM REACHING SOCCER BOWL
FC Edmonton’s David Proctor’s 90th minute goal spoiled the New York Cosmos chances of clinching a Soccer Bowl berth, drawing 1-1 at James Shuart Stadium on Sunday evening.
“It feels like we didn’t accomplish our target tonight, definitely because we expected at the end to be able to get a win,” Cosmos coach Giovanni Savarese told SBI. “They tied three minutes from the end, if you consider stoppage time as well. I wouldn’t consider it a loss, but definitely it was not the result we were looking for.”
After a scoreless first half, second-half substitute Alessandro Noselli broke the deadlock, scoring in the 78th minute. A failed Eddies clearance lead to Danny Szetela whipping the ball toward the box, which found Stefan Dimitrov to keep the ball alive, finding the Italian striker to nudge the ball behind goalkeeper Lance Parker.
With only seconds to play before stoppage time, the Eddies responded with a goal of their own. Defender Lance Liang’s corner kick proved to be decisive, finding defender David Proctor to head-in the ball behind goalkeeper Kyle Reynish to level the match at the death.
While the draw prevents Giovanni Savarese’s men from reaching the Soccer Bowl, they’ll have another shot at clinching the fall season title when they visit the San Antonio Scorpions at Toyota Field on Saturday.
ROWDIES DOWN SCORPIONS, KEEP SEASON ALIVE
It was win or go home for the Rowdies, and Luke Mulholland’s clutch 75th minute penalty kick insured the Tampa Bay Rowdies’ season was still alive, as they went on to defeat the last-place San Antonio Scorpions, 1-0, at Al Lang Stadium.
“It was great goal by Luke (Mulholland),” Rowdies head coach Ricky Hill told NASL.com. “After that we became a bit nervous and edgy and we went with a back five to close out the game and we had Diego (Restrepo) making some good saves as well as the defense.”
With postseason implications on the line, the St. Petersburg club drew a penalty when Etienne Barbara was brought down in the 74th minute by Scorpions defender Greg Janicki. Midfielder Luke Mulholland stepped up to take the penalty kick and beat Jeremy Vuolo for his eighth goal of the season.
RAILHAWKS REGAIN WINNING TOUCH
A third time is a charm for the Carolina RailHawks, who were able to secure a 1-0 victory over Minnesota United at the National Sports Center Stadium.
“I feel like we haven’t played well at home and dominated and I’m heartbroken after such a great first half,” Minnesota head coach Manny Lagos told NASL.com. “The lack of goal scoring chances hurts and we have to pick our heads up and try to finish the season in the right way.”
After dropping their last two road games, which saw Colin Clarke’s men concede six goals, Enzo Martinez’s 51st minute long-range strike proved to be the game winner, beating goalkeeper Matt Van Oekel.
While there were no postseason implications, the victory for the RailHawks came at a good time, as it will be the momentum needed to remain perfect at home in 2013 when they host the Atlanta Silverbacks on Saturday.
- New York Cosmos – 25 points
- Tampa Bay Rowdies – 20 points
- Ft. Lauderdale Strikers – 17 points
- Carolina RailHawks – 17 points
- Atlanta Silverbacks – 16 points
- Minnesota United FC – 14 points
- FC Edmonton – 12 points
- San Antonio Scorpions – 10 points
What did you think of Week 12? Are you surprised to see Edmonton hold-off the Cosmos? Do you think the Rowdies can add more pressure and win the fall season? Can the Strikers be a team to fear come next year?
Share your thoughts below.