Tampa Bay Sports Day

NASL: Several Clubs Look To Continue Red-Hot Fall Season Start

Two of the hottest clubs in the North American Soccer League (NASL) hit the road this weekend with hopes of continuing their excellent Fall Season form. Rayo OKC, which is riding a six-game unbeaten run, travels to face Puerto Rico FC after earning a comeback 2-2 draw against the same side last Wednesday.

On the heels of winning its sixth straight home game, FC Edmonton heads to the Circle City to take on Indy Eleven. The Eddies have lost just once in 10 games, while Indy’s incredible 13-game unbeaten streak ended last week in Minnesota.

Down in St. Petersburg, Fla., a rivalry will be renewed when the first-place New York Cosmos visit the surging Tampa Bay Rowdies. Elsewhere on Saturday night, Jacksonville Armada FC hosts Ottawa Fury FC and its string of new signings, while Minnesota United welcomes the Fort Lauderdale Strikers to NSC Stadium.

Jacksonville Armada FC vs. Ottawa Fury FC
5 p.m. ET | Saturday, July 23
Community First Park | Jacksonville, Fla.
Watch | beIN SPORTS (National – U.S., Canada), beIN SPORTS CONNECT (National – U.S., Canada), CW17 (Local – Jacksonville), Rogers TV (Local – Ottawa)

Jacksonville Armada FC and Ottawa Fury FC are both coming off tough losses in Week 3 of the Fall Season. Jacksonville (1-1-2, 4) gave up a stoppage-time goal to fall, 1-0, to Miami FC after holding strong with 10 men for most of the game. Ottawa had a man advantage against FC Edmonton, but also conceded a late goal to lose by the same score.

Both clubs, though, should have reinforcements when the game kicks off. The Armada FC’s Swedish pair, Alexander Andersson and Nicklas Maripuu, has arrived in Jacksonville, while Ottawa (0-0-3, 0) added free-kick specialist Ryan Williams from Scottish Premier League side Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Canadian international Jamar Dixon earlier this week.

Indy Eleven vs. FC Edmonton
7:30 p.m. ET | Saturday, July 23
Carroll Stadium | Indianapolis, Ind.
Watch | ESPN3 (National – U.S.), NASL.com (National – Canada), WISH-TV (Local – Indianapolis)

Indy Eleven (2-1-1, 7) will hope to get back on track after its 13-game unbeaten streak was snapped in a 2-0 loss to Minnesota United last Saturday. To do so, the Boys in Blue will have to overcome one of the hottest teams in the NASL. FC Edmonton has lost just once in its last 10 league games after defeating Ottawa Fury FC, 1-0.

For the Eddies (2-1-0, 7), Canadian international Nik Ledgerwood scored his first goal in the win over Ottawa. FC Edmonton showcased its grit to find a win, despite playing with 10 men, to increase its home winning streak to six games. The Canadian side earned a 1-1 result in its last trip to Carroll Stadium.

Puerto Rico FC vs. Rayo OKC
7:30 p.m. ET | Saturday, July 23
Juan Ramón Loubriel Stadium | Bayamón, P.R.
Watch | ESPN3 (National – U.S.), NASL.com (National – Canada), WAPA 2 (Local – Puerto Rico), Cox Channel 703 (Local – Oklahoma City)

Puerto Rico FC (0-2-2, 2) had a tough stretch on the road recently, losing twice to go along with a draw. That draw, though, may have felt like a loss after letting a two-goal lead slip late to the club’s opponent this weekend, Rayo OKC. Héctor Ramos has led the way with three goals to start his tenure with the club.

Rayo OKC is hitting top gear and, after a 3-0 dismantling of the New York Cosmos, has stretched its unbeaten streak to six games. Rayo OKC (2-2-0, 8) has been particularly strong on the road this season, having lost just once in six tries. Brazilian veteran Michel continues to shine, scoring three goals last week, which included two tallies in the win over New York.

Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. New York Cosmos
7:30 p.m. ET | Saturday, July 23
Al Lang Stadium | St. Petersburg, Fla.
Watch | ESPN3 (National – U.S.), NASL.com (National – Canada), ONE World Sports (National – U.S.), ONEWorldSports.com (National – U.S., Canada), BHSN 1147 (Local – St. Petersburg/Tampa Bay)

Two old rivals clash on Saturday when the New York Cosmos (3-0-1, 9) visit the Tampa Bay Rowdies. The road hasn’t been kind to the Cosmos in 2016, as the club has won just twice away from home (both coming against Miami FC) thus far. Most recently, New York was upended, 3-0, by Rayo OKC.

The Rowdies, on the other hand, are picking up steam after dispatching Puerto Rico FC, 3-0. Joe Cole set the tone in the victory with a sensational bicycle kick to open the scoring, and his strike was followed by a superb effort from Eric Avila and a late insurance goal by Tom Heinemann. Tampa Bay (1-1-1, 4) also announced two key additions earlier this week, with Danish international Martin Vingaard bolstering the midfield and Colombian striker Carlos Preciado boosting the club’s firepower.

Minnesota United vs. Fort Lauderdale Strikers
8 p.m. ET | Saturday, July 23
NSC Stadium | Blaine, Minn.
Watch | ESPN3 (National – U.S.), NASL.com (National – Canada), MY29 (Local – Twin Cities), SFL-TV (Local – Fort Lauderdale), International outlets*

Minnesota United was flying high last weekend, ending Indy Eleven’s unbeaten streak with a convincing 2-0 win. Loons forward Christian Ramirez continued his torrid goalscoring form, finding the back of the net twice to increase his league-leading total to 10. Minnesota (2-0-1, 6) has also gotten strong play in its defensive third, particularly from emerging center back Brent Kallman.

The Fort Lauderdale Strikers are hoping to put recent league form behind them in their trip to Minnesota. The Strikers (0-1-3, 1) have lost their last three league contests, without scoring a goal, and just fell to the Chicago Fire in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals on Wednesday night. Fort Lauderdale will have extra incentive heading into this weekend’s clash after falling to Minnesota, 3-0, earlier in the year