Soccer News: Three Teams Compete For Final Spot In The Championship As NASL Fall Season Reaches Its Final Two Weeks
Week 16 matchups headlined by ESPN3 Match of the Week between postseason contenders Fort Lauderdale Strikers and FC Edmonton
With only two weeks remaining in the 2014 North American Soccer League (NASL) Fall Season, three teams will battle it out for the final spot in The Championship, the league’s four-team postseason tournament. The New York Cosmos, San Antonio Scorpions, and Minnesota United FC have all booked their place in the postseason, while the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, Carolina RailHawks, and FC Edmonton will compete for the fourth spot over the final two weeks.
Two of the three teams on the fringe of that final postseason berth are the Strikers and FC Edmonton, and as luck would have it, the two sides will meet at Lockhart Stadium on Saturday in the league’s ESPN3 Match of the Week. The 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff can also be heard on Sofloradio.com.
Week 16 of the Fall Season features four other matchups taking place in Atlanta, Minnesota, New York and Ottawa, and they will all be available for fans to watch live on NASLLive.com. Fans can purchase monthly subscriptions at NASLLive.com now, allowing them to watch every single league matchup live.
The Strikers, who currently sit in fourth place in the NASL Combined Standings (Spring + Fall), are unbeaten in their last five regular season games against the Eddies at Lockhart Stadium.
“We control fourth place in the standings, but we know we must continue to win in order to accomplish our goal of playing in The Championship,” said Strikers head coach Günter Kronsteiner. “Edmonton is a very strong team, and they are playing with a lot of confidence. Both teams know what’s at stake, and I believe our team will be ready for the challenge. We will have to play our best in order to come out of this game on top.”
Meanwhile, FC Edmonton, which trails Fort Lauderdale by two points in the race for the last spot in The Championship, has not lost in their last five games. The Eddies took three points in their last meeting against Fort Lauderdale, winning 2-1 at Clarke Stadium on August 24.
“This is a game that I’ve had my eye on for some time,” said FC Edmonton head coach Colin Miller. “I thought it would be a really critical game for us. I have a lot of respect for Fort Lauderdale and this will be a real test for us. The Strikers are playing very well at this point in the season and so are we. These are the sorts of games that every professional wants to play in. It’s now a test of who can handle this sort of pressure the best.”
Saturday’s slate of matches kicks off with a 40-year-old rivalry that has been rekindled in recent years. The defending NASL champions, the New York Cosmos, host the Tampa Bay Rowdies at Hofstra University’s James M. Shuart Stadium. The match, which kicks off at 7:30 p.m. ET, will also be televised on ONE World Sports.
Since 2013, the clubs have met four times. While the Cosmos lead the head-to-head series, the Rowdies came out on top in the last encounter, turning in a 3-1 victory on August 16 at Al Lang Stadium.
“The Cosmos are a very good team with very good coaches, so, you know it’s a fantastic organization,” said Rowdies head coach Ricky Hill. “We have a long running tradition for many, many years that we have to uphold. We have a series at stake here. We won one game and New York has beaten us in the other game. Now, we go to their home ground hoping to get a victory.”
The third-place Cosmos, who have already secured a spot in The Championship, will be looking to challenge the Scorpions for the #2, which would allow them to host a semifinal match in next month’s postseason tournament. New York needs to earn a full six points in its final two matches of the season and hope that second-place San Antonio loses their last two games – one of which comes against the Cosmos.
The Carolina RailHawks, who are the third team hoping to grab the last qualifying berth into The Championship, visit the Atlanta Silverbacks for a 7:30 pm ET encounter at Silverbacks Park. Currently two points below the Strikers in the NASL Combined Standings, the RailHawks have only lost twice to the Silverbacks in 14 NASL regular season games. Atlanta did claim a victory in the last meeting – 2-0 triumph over Carolina on August 30 at WakeMed Soccer Park.
RailHawks head coach Colin Clarke, whose team is coming off a 1-1 draw at home against the Strikers, commented on the game in Atlanta this Saturday: “We didn’t get the result we expected last week, but that is not going to stop us from working hard to accomplish our goal of playing in and winning The Championship. It’s still possible, and that is why we are focusing on getting the next six points.”
Elsewhere on Saturday, Minnesota United FC, who has already secured the #1 seed in The Championship, looks to claim the Fall Season title when they welcome the Scorpions to NSC Stadium at 7 p.m. CT (8 p.m. ET). The game will air locally on KSTC-45 TV.
Minnesota, who can seal the Fall Season Championship with a draw on Saturday, has won the last four encounters against San Antonio, including the most recent one – a 2-0 win at Toyota Field on September 20.
“Minnesota is a talented squad that boasts a great record at home. With the postseason nearing and the Fall Championship still undecided, Saturday’s game presents us with a stern test on the road,” said Scorpions head coach Alen Marcina. “But we continue to feel like we’re making the right adjustments and progressing towards hitting our peak for the remaining regular season games as well as the postseason.”
Week 16 will conclude on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET when Indy Eleven looks to extend its unbeaten streak to a club-best four games at TD Place in Ottawa. It will be Ottawa Fury FC’s final home match this season, and it will air locally on Rogers TV and TSN 1200 Radio.
Indy Eleven hasn’t conceded a goal in 307 minutes, and they are hoping for their first ever victory over Ottawa. The Canadian club has won the previous two matches – most recently a 2-1 result on August 23, at IUPUI’s Michael A. Carroll Stadium.
NASL FALL SEASON WEEK 16 SCHEDULE
Saturday, October 25
Atlanta Silverbacks vs. Carolina RailHawks
Atlanta Silverbacks Park; Atlanta, Ga. 7:30 p.m. ET
Fort Lauderdale Strikers vs. FC Edmonton
Lockhart Stadium; Fla. 7:30 p.m. ET
New York Cosmos vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies
Hofstra University’s James M. Shuart Stadium; Hempstead, N.Y. 7:30 p.m. ET
Minnesota United FC vs. San Antonio Scorpions
NSC Stadium; Blaine, Minn. 8 p.m. ET
Sunday, October 26
Ottawa Fury FC vs. Indy Eleven
TD Place; Ottawa, Ontario 3 p.m. ET