Tampa Bay Sports Day

NASL: Cosmos Sit Atop Standings As Spring Season Races To Finish

Photo by NASL

The Tampa Bay Rowdies knocked off Minnesota United on the back of Joe Cole’s strong performance. The New York Cosmos defeated Rayo OKC Saturday night and tightened their grip on first place as the NASL’s 10-game Spring Season closes in on the finish line.

Indy Eleven remained unbeaten with a draw on the road against Jacksonville Armada FC, while Miami FC picked up its first win in league play with a victory over FC Edmonton.

Tampa Bay Rowdies 2, Minnesota United 0

Minnesota lost its second straight match and missed another opportunity to pick up precious points as the English star Joe Cole led Tampa Bay to an emphatic 2-0 victory at the NSC Stadium in Blaine, Minn., on Saturday night.

Cole scored his first NASL goal in the 43rd minute when he powered a header past Minnesota (4-1-3, 13) goalkeeper Sammy Ndjock from a nifty cross by Kalif Alhassan.

Cole created the Rowdies (3-3-2, 12) second goal only minutes into the second half. He carried the ball 20 yards before releasing a pass to Eric Avila on the right for a shot that beat Ndjock in the 47th minute.

New York Cosmos 1, Rayo OKC 0

First-place New York completed the home portion of its Spring Season schedule at Shuart Stadium unbeaten after its 1-0 victory over Rayo OKC on Saturday night.

Rayo OKC (2W-2D-4L, 8 points) played with 10 men from the 36th minute after Michel, the league’s leading goalscorer, was shown a straight red card for an apparent studs-up charge against Cosmos goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer. Rayo OKC finished the game with eight men when Billy Forbes and minutes later Georgios Samaras were ejected late in the match.

The Cosmos (6-0-3, 18) broke through in the 53rd minute when Sebastián Guenzatti flicked a header into the path of Danny Szetela for an easy tap in past Fernandes

The Cosmos finished undefeated at home this season, and have lost only four home games of 41 games over all since 2013 reboot season; and New York has only one loss over the same period when scoring first.

Jacksonville Armada FC 1, Indy Eleven 1

Justin Braun’s second-half goal erased Jacksonville’s one-goal lead as Indy Eleven remained the only unbeaten team in the Spring Season, taking a point on the road at Community First Park on Saturday night.

Jacksonville (1-2-5, 5) finally broke a more than 400-minute goal-scoring drought when defender Matt Bahner hit an errant clearance first-time and blasted a left-footed shot past Busch inside the near post from 25 yards out.

Indy (3-5-0, 14) tied the game in the 73rd minute when Jair Reynoso’s cross was met by Justin Braun, who went high to head the ball past Miguel Gallardo, who replaced the injured Evers in the 57th minute.

Miami FC 1, FC Edmonton 0

Miami FC ended a four-game losing streak and won the club’s first game with the club’s newest acquisition, Michael Lahoud teaming with Richie Ryan to give the home team a dominate midfield in the 1-0 victory against FC Edmonton at Ocean Bank Field on Saturday night.

Miami FC (1-3-4, 6) had the best chance of the first half-hour when Dario Cvitanich’s swerving free kick from 20 yards out was pushed over the crossbar by Eddies (4-2-3, 14) goalkeeper Matt VanOekel.

The Cuban international Ariel Martínez scored a spectacular goal on a solo effort to give Miami FC the lead in the 67th minute. Martínez took a pass from Jaime Chávez about 35 yards from goal and deftly controlled the ball while moving past two Eddies defenders. He unleashed a left-footed shot that sailed into the upper 90.

Fort Lauderdale Strikers 2, Ottawa Fury FC 1

The Fort Lauderdale Strikers left Canada’s capital city with three points after grinding out a 2-1 victory over Ottawa Fury FC at TD Place on Friday night. Goals from forwards Maicon Santos and Giuseppe Gentile helped the Strikers extend their unbeaten streak to four games and continue their rapid ascent up the NASL Spring Season Standings.

The visitors didn’t waste any time getting on the scoreboard, with Santos putting the finishing touches on a well-worked counterattack in the eighth minute. Aside from the goal, though, Fort Lauderdale (3-3-2, 12) spent the better part of the first half defending repeated attacks from Fury FC. Strikers goalkeeper Diego Restrepo was called into action on a number of occasions, thwarting efforts from Marcel De Jong and Carl Haworth, among others.

Shortly after coming on as a substitute, Gentile doubled Fort Lauderdale’s lead, firing a low shot from outside the box that swerved under the hands of Ottawa goalkeeper Romuald Peiser. Restrepo remained busy in the Strikers’ goal, coming up with an impressive save to deny Fury FC defender Fernando Timbo.
The hosts finally made the breakthrough in the 80th minute when Haworth converted from the penalty spot, but Ottawa (2-2-4, 8) failed to find the equalizer, snapping its nine-game home unbeaten streak.