Tampa Bay Sports Day

NASL:  Cole Scores on Bicycle Kick in Tampa Bay’s Win over Puerto Rico


Down in the Sunshine State, English veteran Joe Cole brought Tampa Bay Rowdies fans to their feet when he powered a bicycle kick into the back of the net to help his club put together a complete victory – their first of the Fall Season – over visiting Puerto Rico FC.

A pair of quick strikes by forward Christian Ramirez carried Minnesota United to a 2-0 victory over Indy Eleven on Saturday night, ending the North American Soccer League (NASL) Spring Season Champions’ unbeaten streak at 13 games and thwarting their bid to set an NASL Modern Era record. The loss was the Eleven’s first of the year, coming in Week 3 of the Fall Season.

In the other three games on Saturday night, the winners all scored shutout victories: Rayo OKC defeated visiting New York, 3-0, on two goals from Michel; Carolina made Brian Shriver’s first-half goal stand up in the RailHawks’ 1-0 win at Fort Lauderdale; and Miami FC left it late but came away with three points when Jaime Chávez scored in second-half stoppage time to clinch a 1-0 win over Jacksonville Armada FC.

Minnesota United 2, Indy Eleven 0

Christian Ramirez erased the memory of last week’s missed penalty kick at Indy (2W-1D-1L, 7 points) when he converted from the spot in the game’s third minute to give Minnesota (2-0-1, 6) the early lead at NSC Stadium in Blaine, Minn. The NASL’s leading scorer then doubled the Loons’ lead three minutes later when he tucked in a cross from Stefano Pinho from three yards out. The goals upped his league-leading total to 10 on the year.

The loss leaves the Eleven tied with the Carolina RailHawks (2011) and New York Cosmos (2013-14) with an unbeaten streak of 13 games. Mexican star Gerardo Torrado made his NASL debut in the game, coming on as a halftime sub.

Tampa Bay Rowdies 3, Puerto Rico FC 0

Tampa Bay pocketed its first three points of the Fall Season, defeating Puerto Rico FC at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Cole, a veteran of three FIFA World Cups with England, scored a sensational goal in the 10th minute after a throw-in from the right flank. The ball glanced off a Puerto Rico FC (0-2-2, 2) defender in penalty area and then the Tampa Bay (1-1-1, 4) midfielder connected on a bicycle kick that sailed over the outstretched hand of goalkeeper David Meves.

Eric Avila made it 2-0 in the 25th minute on a right-footed shot from distance that sailed into the upper corner of the net, and Tom Heinemann added a goal for the Rowdies in second-half stoppage time.

Puerto Rico FC completed a difficult three-game road trip that consisted of a loss at Jacksonville, a draw at Rayo OKC after leading 2-0 late, and Saturday’s loss to the Rowdies. Puerto Rico FC is still searching for its first NASL win as they head back to the island for a home game next weekend.

Rayo OKC 3, New York Cosmos 0

Michel scored twice from dead-ball situations, Georgios Samaras scored his first NASL goal, and Rayo OKC handed the New York Cosmos their first loss of the Fall Season in a game played at Miller Stadium in Yukon, Okla. With the win, Rayo OKC moves into second place in the Fall Season Standings and the loss ends the Cosmos’ three-game winning streak.

Rayo OKC (2-2-0, 8) took a 1-0 lead four minutes into the second half when defender Futty Danso was pulled down in the penalty area and Michel converted the ensuing penalty kick. Michel doubled the lead in the 65th minute off a free kick from just outside the penalty area. The goals upped Michel’s total to eight this year – a staggering number for a defender. Rayo OKC now has a six-game unbeaten streak.

New York (3-0-1, 9) continues to struggle on the road, where the club has won only twice (both at Miami FC) in seven games across the Spring and Fall Season.

Carolina RailHawks 1, Fort Lauderdale Strikers 0

The Carolina RailHawks won their second straight game, defeating Fort Lauderdale at Lockhart Stadium and sending the Strikers to their third consecutive league loss. Fort Lauderdale played without the injured PC and Maicon Santos four days before the club is scheduled to face the Chicago Fire (MLS) in the quarterfinals of the 2016 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

Brian Shriver gave Carolina (2-0-1, 6) the lead in the 23rd minute when he controlled a light touch from Matt Fondy and planted a right-footed shot past Fort Lauderdale (0-1-3, 1) goalkeeper Diego Restrepo. It was Shriver’s fourth goal of the year.

Miami FC 1, Jacksonville Armada FC 0

Jamie Chávez scored a goal in second-half stoppage time to give Miami FC a victory over 10-man Jacksonville Armada FC at Ocean Bank Field. The win was Miami’s first of the Fall Season.

After visiting defender Beto Navarro was sent off in the early going, Miami FC (1-1-1, 4) carried much of the play on offense throughout the game. The club had two apparent goals, one by Dario Cvitanich in the first half and one by Chávez in the second half, disallowed for offside. Jacksonville (1-1-2, 4), which had a positive start in its first two games of the Fall Season, could manage only one shot on goal and has now lost two straight without scoring a goal.