By RYAN TOLMICH
Entering week six, two teams had separated themselves as the NASL’s top teams in a tie for first place. However, after Saturday’s clash between Minnesota United FC and the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, it is United that now find themselves as the league’s leaders. United picked up a 3-1 victory over the Strikers Saturday, giving themselves sole possession of first place through six games.
The head-to-head matchup between the two league-leaders started quite literally, as a collision between Cristiano Dias and Marius Ebbers in the games opening minutes forced both men to be substituted inside 30 minutes.
It was United who opened the scoring from the penalty spot after Strikers defender Darnell Kin handled the ball inside the box in the game’s 12th minute. Simone Bracalello buried his second penalty of the year, giving the Loons the early advantage.
The Strikers equalized early in the second half when a ball from Shawn Chin found its way through the United box and found league-leading goalscorer Martin Nunez, who scored his fourth in six games.
The home side responded just eight minutes later with a strike from Christian Ramirez, whose shot from outside the box saw him match Nunez mark with four goals on the season. The game’s final goal saw a bit of controversy, as a referee disagreement saw an offside call waved off, allowing Miguel Ibarra to push the scoreline to 3-1 in the 70th minute.
With the win, United moves into sole possession of first place, having won five straight contests.
Here’s a closer look at the rest of the weekend’s action in NASL:
COSMOS SCORE THREE IN 13 MINUTES TO KNOCK OFF ROWDIES
After scoring just two goals in their previous four matches, the New York Cosmos needed an offensive reboot. It may have taken until the second half, but the Cosmos finally found their attacking stride with three goals in a span of 13 minutes in Saturday’s 3-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rowdies in Florida.
After a scoreless first half, the Cosmos came out firing to begin the second stanza, scoring two goals in a three minute span. It all began just three minutes into the half with Mads Stokkelien scoring the first goal of the day off of a cross from Marcos Senna. Just minutes later, Ayoze found the back of the net for the visitors off a free-kick 20 yards from goal.
The Cosmos iced the game just 10 minutes later, as Paulo Mendes stripped a Rowdies defender before sliding a low shot past Tampa Bay goalkeeper Ryan Thompson to give the Cosmos the 3-0 lead.
With the victory, the Cosmos pull within 3 points of league-leaders Minnesota United.
DONATELLI BRACE LEADS FURY TO 4-2 VICTORY
A pair of first half goals from Tony Donatelli lead the way for Ottawa Fury FC, who picked up their first road win of the NASL Spring season Saturday when they took down last-placed Indy Eleven 4-2.
Donatelli scored in the 16th and 42nd minutes in a first half that saw five goals scored between the two teams. Donatelli’s opener was quickly canceled out by Indy’s Mike Ambersley just four minutes later. Omar Jarun and Donatelli pushed the lead to two just moments apart right before the half before Indy’s Ben Spencer brought the lead to one in the 44th.
A 68th minute goal from Oliver restored the two goal lead, which proved to be enough toe the Fury to pick up all three points.
With the victory, the Fury move up to sixth place, while Indy remain in 10th with just two points in six games.
RAILHAWKS TOP SILVERBACKS 2-0
Two goals proved to be more than enough for the Carolina Railhawks, as goals from Mike Grella and Connor Tobin earned the hosts a 2-0 win over the Atlanta Silverbacks.
Grella opened the scoring in the 16th minute from the penalty spot. A string of passes in and around the Silverbacks box saw Grella draw a penalty, which he fired into the left side netting for his first goal of the season.
Tobin scored the game’s second 20 minutes later off of a Zack Schilawski cross, giving the Railhawks a 2-0 lead and all three points.
The win sees the Railhawks move up to fifth in the league, while the Silverbacks slip to eighth position.
FC EDMONTON, SAN ANTONIO SCORPIONS PLAY TO 0-0 DRAW
Fresh off of a midweek loss to Montreal Impact in the Canadian Championship Semifinals, FC Edmonton looked like a team playing its third game in eight days in their matchup with the San Antonio Scorpions.
Edmonton were put on the back foot early when defender Mallan Roberts was sent off after inadvertently kicking Scorpions forward Stephen DeRoux in the face while pursuing the ball.
From there, the Edmonton defense remained stout as neither team was able to find a goal to separate themselves.
With the draw, Edmonton remain in ninth place with just five points from six games. Meanwhile, the Scorpions find themselves fourth with 10 points.
What did you think of NASL Week 6? Which results stood out to you?
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