Tampa Bay Sports Day

NASL: Rowdies Home as Top Clubs Look To Continue Strong Home Form

As the North American Soccer League (NASL) Fall Season reaches its halfway point the Tampa Bay Rowdies will attempt to shake off a three-game losing streak while other clubs make their push towards The Championship, the league’s postseason tournament that begins in November.

FC Edmonton and the New York Cosmos find themselves in the best shape heading into the home stretch of the NASL Fall Season, but both clubs will need to continue their strong momentum to ward off the many sides that aren’t far behind. The Eddies host one of the two Sunday games in Week 9, putting their incredible nine-game home winning streak to the test against league newcomer Puerto Rico FC. The Cosmos kick things off on Saturday night, welcoming the Carolina RailHawks to Shuart Stadium, where they have been strong all year long.

Miami FC will look to continue climbing up the Fall Season Standings against a tough Minnesota United side. In addition to first-place FC Edmonton taking the field on Sunday, the NASL’s other Canadian side, Ottawa Fury FC, will play host to Spring Season Champion Indy Eleven.

Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. Rayo OKC
7:30 p.m. ET | Saturday, August 27

The Rowdies get another crack at scoring a win in front of their home fans when they host Rayo OKC this Saturday at Al Lang Stadium. The Green and Gold dropped a 1-0 home contest to visiting FC Edmonton last weekend, despite being the better side for much of the game. Tampa Bay (2-2-6, 8) will be desperate to get back in the win column after dropping five of its last six games, and on Saturday, they welcome a Rayo OKC side that has been fairly strong on the road in 2016.

The visitors are still trying to find their feet under new head coach Gerard Nus. After earning an impressive 1-1 draw in New York in the Spaniard’s first game in charge, Rayo OKC (3-4-3, 13) has dropped two straight 2-1 results. With that said, the club was able to go to Tampa Bay in the Spring Season and come away with a 1-1 draw. Rayo OKC then followed that result up with a win over the Rowdies at Miller Stadium. Midfielder Billy Forbes has looked especially dangerous for Nus’ side in recent games, and hopes to bring that same level of intensity to Al Lang Stadium on Saturday night.

New York Cosmos vs. Carolina RailHawks
7 p.m. ET | Saturday, August 27

The Cosmos and RailHawks each enter Saturday’s contest on the heels of a last-minute victory in Week 8. New York (6W-2D-2L, 20 points) snatched a 2-1 road win over Puerto Rico FC thanks to a late winner from El Salvador international Andres Flores, while Carolina got a stoppage-time goal from Mexican star Omar Bravo to notch a 3-2 win over Spring Season Champion Indy Eleven.

Both sides should step onto the field with confidence on Saturday night, but if history says anything, the Cosmos will be tough to topple at home. Giovanni Savarese’s side has yet to lose a game at Shuart Stadium this year, and that run includes a 1-0 win over the RailHawks in the Spring Season. The RailHawks (3-3-3, 12) come to New York with the red-hot strike partnership of Bravo and Matt Fondy, though. The two forwards have combined for eight goals (four apiece) since teaming up after Bravo’s arrival on July 22.

Miami FC vs. Minnesota United
8 p.m. ET | Saturday, August 27

With 14 points picked up in its last seven games, Miami FC (4-3-2, 15) and its group of midseason acquisitions are beginning to fulfill head coach Alessandro Nesta’s vision. The South Florida side heads back home on Saturday on the heels of a scoreless draw on Wednesday night in Ottawa, and while it wasn’t pretty, the result vaulted the club into fourth place in the Fall Season Standings and pulled it even on points with the Loons.

Minnesota (4-3-3, 15) also played to a scoreless draw in its last game, earning a point on the road against Jacksonville Armada FC last Saturday. The Loons, who haven’t won away from home since April, will view this clash as a hugely important one for a few reasons. Minnesota sits even on points with Miami in the Fall Season Standings and a win would put the club squarely back into the title race. Additionally, in the last meeting between these two sides, Miami came away with a landslide victory (4-0) at NSC Stadium, so revenge is likely top of mind for the Loons.

Ottawa Fury FC vs. Indy Eleven
2 p.m. ET | Sunday, August 28

Ottawa Fury FC (3-1-6, 10) opened up a key three-game homestand on Wednesday with a clean sheet against a dangerous Miami FC side. Having been hampered with injuries of late, Fury FC will take some confidence from the midweek result, but head coach Paul Dalglish’s side will need to be a little more productive in the final third if it wants to secure three points against Spring Season Champion Indy Eleven on Saturday night. Carl Haworth, who leads the team with seven goals, needs some help up front from the likes of midseason acquisitions Giuseppe Gentile and Danny Mwanga.

Indy has made a habit of scoring late to win games in 2016, and Ottawa knows that all too well having fallen victim to a stoppage-time goal against the Boys in Blue earlier this month. The Eleven (6-1-3, 19) got a taste of its own medicine last weekend when its opponent, the Carolina RailHawks, converted a penalty kick in the dying moments to snatch all three points. Despite the loss in Week 8, Indy has been strong all season long and currently sits just three points off the pace in the Fall Season Standings.

FC Edmonton vs. Puerto Rico FC
4 p.m. ET | Sunday, August 28

Since FC Edmonton joined the league at its inception in 2011, it hasn’t gotten much better than this. The Eddies (7-1-1, 22) are performing at an incredibly high level, sitting atop both the Fall Season and Combined Standings with the NASL’s best defense – by a longshot. Colin Miller’s side has conceded just 10 goals in 19 games, and has shut out opponents in over half of its games.

Sunday’s clash will certainly be a challenge for visiting Puerto Rico FC, a side that has struggled to get results despite strong performances in recent weeks. Going up against the league’s top defense, Puerto Rico (1-4-5, 7) will have to do better than its current scoring average of less than one goal per game. Adrian Whitbread’s side is home to one of the league’s hottest scorers, Héctor Ramos, who has already tallied seven goals through 10 Fall Season games.