By MIKE GRAMAJO
There’s no denying that the New York Cosmos are the hottest team in the North American Soccer League right now.
Despite needing a second-half rally last Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rowdies, the Cosmos are now on a six-game unbeaten run with five left to play. New York’s 4-3 victory was not only impressive for keeping that run alive, but also because it handed the Rowdies their first defeat of the fall season.
The in-form Cosmos now sit in first place with 18 points, four points clear of the second-place Rowdies in the NASL standings.
Here are the SBI NASL Power Rankings after Week 9:
SBI NASL POWER RANKINGS (Week 9)
1. NEW YORK COSMOS (5-3-1)
LAST WEEK – beat Tampa Bay Rowdies, 4-3, on Sunday (9/29)
THIS WEEK – at Minnesota United FC on Saturday
LAST FIVE – T-T-W-W-W
OUTLOOK – Little by little the Cosmos are starting to work as a unit. Most of the goals are coming from midfield players like Marcos Senna and Diomar Diaz, but relying too much on them may hurt Giovanni Savarese’s side. The forwards have to start producing more goals.
2. TAMPA BAY ROWDIES (3-5-1)
LAST WEEK – lost to New York Cosmos, 4-3, on Sunday (9/29)
THIS WEEK – at Fort Lauderdale Strikers on Saturday (Florida Derby)
LAST FIVE – T-W-T-W-L
OUTLOOK – OK, so the Rowdies lost their first match in 10 games. That shouldn’t undermine the fact that the St. Petersburg side was able to stay unbeaten for much of the fall, especially when they lead the league in scoring with 21 goals.
3. MINNESOTA UNITED FC (4-2-3)
LAST WEEK – beat San Antonio Scorpions, 1-0, on Saturday (9/28)
THIS WEEK – vs. New York Cosmos on Saturday.
LAST FIVE – W-T-L-W-W
OUTLOOK – The duo of Pablo Campos and Simone Bracalello has worked wonders for Manny Lagos’ side. Both players have combined for three goals in their last five matches. Besides not having a great spring season, they’re on a two-game winning streak and will look to avenge their loss to the Cosmos earlier this fall season when they host them on Saturday.
4. CAROLINA RAILHAWKS (4-2-3)
LAST WEEK – beat Fort Lauderdale Strikers, 2-0, on Saturday (9/28)
THIS WEEK – at FC Edmonton on Sunday
LAST FIVE – L-L-T-L-W
OUTLOOK – The RailHawks were finally able to break out of their funk, but it may be too late for them to finish as fall champions. Despite playing their last two matches without their leading goalscorer, forward Brian Shriver, the RailHawks have to continue from their victory last week when they visit an FC Edmonton side that doesn’t lose at Clarke Stadium very often.
5. ATLANTA SILVERBACKS (3-4-2)
LAST WEEK – beat FC Edmonton, 1-0, on Saturday (9/28)
THIS WEEK – at San Antonio Scorpions on Saturday
LAST FIVE – T-T-W-L-W
OUTLOOK – Just when it looked like the spring champions were going to play it cool in the fall season, they managed to stay unbeaten three times and lose once in September, which has kept Brian Haynes’ men centered in the NASL table.
6. FORT LAUDERDALE STRIKERS (3-2-4)
LAST WEEK – lost to Carolina RailHawks, 2-0, on Saturday (9/28)
THIS WEEK – vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies on Saturday (Florida Derby)
LAST FIVE – W-T-T-L-L
OUTLOOK – Despite an awful start to their fall season, things looked to be shinning bright for the Strikers. A five-game unbeaten streak had the South Florida side edging closer to first place in the standings, but things collapsed. Since that wonderful unbeaten run, the Strikers have lost their last two matches, which were to fall championship contenders. Things only look to get harder, as the Strikers host a Rowdies side that’s known to show no mercy to its cross-state rival.
7. FC EDMONTON (1-5-3)
LAST WEEK – lost to Atlanta Silverbacks, 1-0, on Saturday (9/28)
THIS WEEK – vs. Carolina RailHawks on Sunday
LAST FIVE – T-T-T-L-L
OUTLOOK – Draws have been much of the story for the Eddies in the fall season, but having lost at home twice in 2013 has been a factor in avoiding last place. With the RailHawks looking like a team that’s picking up momentum, Chris Nurse and Corey Hertzog may need to step up in order to stop that Carolina side.
8. SAN ANTONIO SCORPIONS (1-1-7)
LAST WEEK – Lost to Minnesota United FC, 1-0, on Saturday (9/28)
THIS WEEK – vs. Atlanta Silverbacks on Saturday
LAST FIVE – L-T-L-W-L
OUTLOOK – A victory can ensure the Scorpions another week before being mathematically eliminated from the fall championship. Despite having league-leading goal scorer Hans Denissen, Scorpions interim head coach Alen Marcina may have to look at other methods to stop the spring champion Silverbacks.
What did you think of this week’s power rankings? Think anyone is rated too highly? See anyone being too low?
Share your thoughts below.