First Versus Second Clash Sees New York Cosmos Take on Unbeaten Tampa Bay Rowdies In North American Soccer League Fall Season Week 9 Action
Any one of four teams currently sitting between third and sixth place in the NASL table could be breathing down the necks of the top pair by the time they meet on Sunday night with three games kicking off on Saturday.
But it is the Cosmos and Rowdies who steal the headlines with the visitors being the only team that can unseat New York from pole position by winning away from home – something they have done five times in 2013. The Cosmos are unbeaten on home turf, boasting three wins and a draw, while the Rowdies are riding a 10-game unbeaten streak and have yet to lose during the NASL Fall Season.
“I’ve said this many times, but every week is another final for us,” said Cosmos coach Giovanni Savarese. “And this weekend is no different. Tampa has acquired some new players since we played them and they’re playing well. This is an important game and going to be another good challenge for us.”
Having relied on last second goals to win their first two home games this season, the Cosmos appear to have found a goal scorer in Venezuelan Diomar Diaz, who hit the target twice last weekend and has three goals on the campaign. In opposition, the Rowdies will look to the league’s second top scorer Georgi Hristov, whose 11 goals in 2013 have made him a constant threat.
“The Cosmos have shown that they are a tough team to beat,” said Rowdies midfielder Stuart Campbell. “They are very strong at home, but then again we are the best team on the road and it’s up to us to take over the top of the table. It’s such an honor to play for a club that has such a rich history and tradition and playing against the Cosmos is special for every member on this team.”
The anticipated clash can be seen live on www.OneWorldSports.com/watch after completing a brief registration and will be broadcast live on SNY TV, which reaches more than 13 million homes.
The NASL Week 9 fall action kicks off early on Saturday as Minnesota United FC welcomes the San Antonio Scorpions to the NSC Stadium in Blaine, MN, for a 3.30pm ET kickoff.
The hosts caught up in the race to win the fall title with a win last week, while San Antonio won for the first time as joint leading scorer in the race for the NASL Golden Boot, Hans Denissen (12 goals), struck with the decisive injury time penalty kick.
“For them, they’re coming off a win, but for us, it’s all about thishome weekend,” said United FC coach Manny Lagos. “We have unfortunately dropped some points at home where we maybe should havewon. And now we really have to show that we can become a good home team.”
At 7pm ET on Saturday, the third placed Carolina RailHawks hope to welcome back the league’s other joint top scorer Brian Shriver from injury as the Fort Lauderdale Strikers visit WakeMed Soccer Park.
Along with United FC, the RailHawks and Strikers are locked together on 11 points and separated only by goal difference. Both are coming off tough losses last weekend and will be eager to stay in touch with the Cosmos at the top. Carolina has not lost at home in 2013 and will defend that proud 13-game record against a Fort Lauderdale team that had put together a five-game unbeaten streak before last weekend.
“Every game is extremely important from now on,” said Strikers coach Günter Kronsteiner. “As I said before, we have three games in a row against some of the top teams in the league (Cosmos, Railhawks and Tampa Bay Rowdies) that will show us exactly where we are as a team. The first one against the Cosmos we lost, but now we have a chance to get some points against another good team in Carolina. I don’t want to lose another game now. We’ve worked hard to get to where we are and we deserve to get a point there.”
Closing out Saturday’s action at 7.30pm ET in Atlanta, the Silverbacks take on FC Edmonton with both clubs also looking to bounce back from a defeat a week ago.
A home win could push the Silverbacks up to as high as third place in the table, while a first away win for the Eddies will keep them in touch with the leaders.
“We had our chances last weekend and we didn’t take them, so we’ve been working on taking advantage of them in practice,” explained Silverbacks coach Brian Haynes. “More importantly, we can’t give up goals, so there is going to be a lot of concentration in practice this week to make sure that we improve on that. We’re going to make sure that we’re very accurate offensively, and that we come out and play a good defensive game.”
NASL Week 9 Schedule (All kickoff times US EST)
Saturday, September 28
Minnesota United FC vs. San Antonio Scorpions
NSC Stadium; Blaine, Minn. 3:30 pm
Carolina RailHawks vs. Fort Lauderdale Strikers
WakeMed Soccer Park; Cary, N.C. 7:00 pm
Atlanta Silverbacks vs. FC Edmonton
Atlanta Silverbacks Park; Atlanta, Ga. 7:30 pm
Sunday, September 29
New York Cosmos vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies
James M. Shuart Stadium; Hempstead, N.Y. 5:00 pm
|New York Cosmos||8||4||3||1||9||7||15|
|Tampa Bay Rowdies||8||3||5||0||18||12||14|
|Minnesota United FC||8||3||2||3||10||9||11|
|Fort Lauderdale Strikers||8||3||2||3||7||9||11|
|San Antonio Scorpions||8||1||1||6||11||18||4|
Tiebreakers: 1.) Goal difference 2.) Goals scored 3.) Head-to-head 4.) Away goal difference 5.) Away goals scored
This Week In The NASL
NASL Player of Week 8
Venezuelan striker Diomar Díaz scored twice and led the New York Cosmos to their first road win of the 2013 Fall Season by in a 2-0 win over the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. His performance earned him the North American Soccer League Player of the Week honors. Just ten minutes into the match at Fort Lauderdale’s Lockhart Stadium, the crowd of 7,653 – a record for the Strikers in their new era – saw Díaz open the scoring as he headed in a cross from Spanish midfielder Ayoze past Strikers goalkeeper Richard Sánchez from six-yards out. Díaz’s second goal was scored 13 minutes later on a rebound after Sánchez saved the an initial shot by Bulgarian forward Stefan Dimitrov, but was beaten by the second attempt from just inside the 18-yard box.
“It feels very nice to be recognized by the league, but more importantly I’m happy I could contribute to this great team win,” said Díaz. “Our whole team played a strong game. Now, we go back to focus on training and continue to work for our next game.”
NASL Team of Week 8
Diego Restrepo, Tampa Bay Rowdies
Venezuelan saved a penalty and made several key stops
Carlos Mendes, New York Cosmos
Solid at the heart of the defense and recorded a clean sheet
Ayoze, New York Cosmos
Spanish midfielder impressed at left back when switching to defense assisted on the New York’s first goal
Kevin Rutkiewicz, Carolina RailHawks
Scottish native scored the game’s opening goal
Luke Mulholland, Tampa Bay Rowdies
English native was a constant attacking threat and assisted on one goal
Danny Szetela, New York Cosmos
U.S. international controlled the game in the middle of the park
Calum Mallace, Minnesota United FC
Scottish native scored the opening goal and fought hard in midfield
Horace James, Atlanta Silverbacks
Jamaican scored as his side attempted a late comeback
Diomar Diaz, New York Cosmos
Venezuelan scored both goals in his team’s 2-0 away win
Georgi Hristov, Tampa Bay Rowdies
Bulgarian scored twice inside four minutes in his side’s win
Hans Denissen, San Antonio Scorpions
Dutch native scored the game-winner and had an assist
Double Tallies By Venezuelan, Bulgarian Strikers Give Cosmos, Rowdies The Edge In NASL Standings
Venezuelan forward Diomar Díaz and Bulgarian striker Georgi Hristov each scored a pair of goals in their respective teams’ victories for the New York Cosmos and Tampa Bay Rowdies – placing them into the top two spots in the league standings during the NASL Week 8.
Díaz, who played the 2012-13 season with Mineros de Guayana of the Venezuelan First Division before coming to New York, notched both goals in the Cosmos 2-0 win over the host Fort Lauderdale Strikers in front of a record crowd of 7,653 at Lockhart Stadium on Saturday. Also on Saturday, the Bulgarian Hristov, who has also played in Poland and Israel prior to coming to the Rowdies, scored twice in a span of three minutes in the second half to increase his league total to 11 goals (second-best in the NASL). His sharp shooting helped the Rowdies to a 3-1 victory over the visiting Atlanta Silverbacks at Al Lang Stadium. English midfielder Shane Hill, the son of Rowdies coach and former Luton Town star Ricky Hill, added the third goal for Tampa Bay who remains as the sole unbeaten team this season.
Every Monday throughout the 2013 Fall Season, the North American Soccer League (NASL) will put its international stars – both coaches & players – under the ‘NASL International Spotlight’ focusing on the league’s overseas connections.
Tickets for NASL Soccer Bowl 2013 are now on general sale and can be purchased by calling 404-969-4900 or booking online at www.atlantasilverbacksfc.com.
About the NASL
The North American Soccer League is a professional soccer league established in the United States and Canada. The NASL member teams are: Atlanta Silverbacks, Carolina RailHawks, FC Edmonton, Fort Lauderdale Strikers, Minnesota United FC, New York Cosmos, San Antonio Scorpions FC and Tampa Bay Rowdies. Indy Eleven, Ottawa Fury FC and Virginia Cavalry FC will begin play in 2014 and clubs in Jacksonville and Oklahoma City will commence play in 2015.