Monday, October 21, 2013

Lower Division Recap: Round 29

There was an eight-goal game this week in the NASL, but only two late goals really mattered when it was all said and done as a 76th minute penalty Saturday kept the Tampa Bay Rowdies Soccer Bowl hopes alive for one more day and a 90th minute equalizer for FC Edmonton at New York Sunday kept the Cosmos from clinching the Fall title, at least for one more week. Meanwhile, the MLS Reserve League came to a close* with all three games finishing with at least five goals.


Needing a victory to stay alive for the Fall title and a Soccer Bowl berth, the Tampa Bay Rowdies went deep into the contest Saturday at home against the visiting last-place San Antonio Scorpions. With 16 minutes left one mistake gave the Rowdies life as Etienne Barbara was fouled in the box by Greg Janicki, allowing Luke Mulholland to net his ninth of the year from the spot moments later.

With the Rowdies still within reach, the Cosmos game against seventh-place Edmonton still mattered come Sunday afternoon and New York, too, saw the match go into the latter stages before they broke the stalemate.

The Cosmos grabbed the lead in the 78th minute when Stefan Dimitrov found second-half sub Alessandro Noselli for what looked like the title-clinching goal as time passed. FC Edmonton, though, did not lay down and in the 90th minute Lance Laing found David Proctor at the edge of the six on a corner kick. The header delayed New York's championship hopes for a week.

In another tightly contested match, the Carolina RailHawks prevailed in Minnesota on a 53rd minute goal from Enzo Martinez, who scored from the right side of the area to give Carolina its first road win.

The RailHawks were among the team's hoping Atlanta would repeat to win the Fall title and open the other Soccer Bowl berth for the best second-place team overall for 2013, but those hopes were dashed in a game that saw more goals from Fort Lauderdale than the three other contests combined as the Strikers ran off five consecutive goals to pull away for a 6-2 victory against the Silverbacks.

Martin Nunez put the Strikers in front 20 minutes on a give-and-go with defender Ivan Guerrero, the star of the night with four assists, and Atlanta answered back in the 34th when Milton Blanco connected a through ball to Ruben Luna. Guerrero's cross set up a Yaikel Perez header four minutes before the break to reclaim the advantage for the Florida side.

The game was turned on its head six minutes into the match when Mike Randolph brought down Paulo Jr in the box, drawing a red card and penalty kick. Carlos Salazar converted the spot kick and the Strikers were off and running with Guerrero connecting with Perez again in the 63rd and Bradlee Baladez getting the first of two four minutes later on a ball from Rafael Alves. He netted the second courtesy of Guerrero in the 83rd and Pedro Mendes went to the spot for Atlanta with four minutes remaining to finish off the scoring.

SATURDAY, October 19

San Antonio Scorpions 0 :: 1 Tampa Bay Rowdies
TB: Luke Mulholland (pen) 76

Carolina RailHawks 1 :: 0 Minnesota United
CAR: Enzo Martinez 52

Atlanta Silverbacks 2 :: 6 Fort Lauderdale Strikers 
FTL: Martin Nunez (Ivan Guerrero) 20, Yaikel Perez (Ivan Guerrero) 41, Carlos Salazar (pen) 53, Yaikel Perez (Ivan Guerrero) 63, Bradlee Baladez (Rafael Alves) 67, Bradlee Baladez (Ivan Guerrero) 83
ATL: Ruben Luna (Milton Blanco) 34, Pedro Mendes (pen) 86

SUNDAY, October 20

FC Edmonton 1 :: 1 New York Cosmos 
NY: Alessandro Noselli (Stefan Dimitrov) 78
EDM: David Proctor (Lance Laing) 90


The MLS Reserve League, it appears, came to a close this week with the final three contests. The season concluded with a bang with at least five goals in each game. The results, though, had no significant impact in the tables as Houston (5-4-0) finished atop the East Division with a points-per-game tally of 1.67, beating Columbus (6-6-2), who finished second at 1.43. In the West, it was the Los Angeles Galaxy finishing well in front with a 5-1-4 record and 1.9 PPG, ranking best overall as well. Vancouver was the only other team in the entire league to finish with fewer than three losses, going 4-2-4 for a 1.6 PPG. Note: Four games are still listed as 'postponed or TBD' on the league schedule, but it is believed they will not be played.

Though Seattle fell in First Team play, the reserves dominated on the road in Portland with David Estrada leading the way with a goal and assist. He struck for the first by knocking in a seventh minute rebound of an Eriq Zavaleta shot and Mike Azira did the same in the 34th on a shot by Philip Lund. Sebastian Rincon was fouled in the 27th and missed the subsequent penalty, but made up for it in the 54th when he created a turnover and scored near post from the outer left corner of the area. It was all the hosts would get as Estrada restored the two-goal margin when his cross found the head of Andy Rose and academy defender Cody Crook scored the finale with eight minutes left.

Former LA Blues striker Matt Fondy helped lead Chivas USA to a comeback win at San Jose, scoring twice after Julio Morales had put the two California sides even at the half-hour mark with a chip to cap the counter-attack. His first came in the 39th and he pushed the lead to two with what proved to be the winner an hour into the contest. Sam Garza initially put the Earthquakes in front in the 27th and delivered the corner kick that saw Elisama Padilla nodded on to Jarad Vanschaik for a 90th minute consolation volley.

Corben Bone and Maicon Santos combined with one another twice in the contest to lead the Fire to the victory over Toronto. Santos created the first goal in the 14th minute when he broke in on a counter and saw his shot saved and fall to Chris Rolfe for the opener. He earned credit for his assistance on the second tally, connecting with Bone in the 17th for a finish from the top of the area. Toronto fought back, rallying to pull even with a goal from Manny Aparicio from the top of the box in the 31st and an equalizer from Emery Welshman five minutes into the second half from an acute angle. It only took five minutes for Santos to play a factor again when a free kick from Daniel Paladini was collected by Bone, who played it in to Santos for another tally from just inside the edge of the area. Joel Lindpere rounded out the scoring with a close-range finish on a ball from Victor Pineda delivered from the end line.

MONDAY, October 14

Seattle Sounders 4 :: 1 Portland Timbers
SEA: David Estrada 7, Mike Azira 34, Andy Rose (David Estrada) 70, Cody Crook (Duncan McCormick) 82
POR: Sebastian Rincon 54

TUESDAY, October 15

Chivas USA 3 :: 2 San Jose Earthquakes
SJ: Sam Garza (Walter Martinez) 27, Jarad Vanschaik (Elisama Padilla, Sam Garza) 90
CHV: Julio Morales 30, Matt Fondy (Donald Toia) 39, Matt Fondy 60

SUNDAY, October 20

Toronto FC 2 :: 4 Chicago Fire
CHI: Chris Rolfe 14, Corben Bone (Maicon Santos) 17, Maicon Santos (Corben Bone) 55, Joel Lindpere (Victor Pineda) 68
TOR: Manny Aparicio 31, Emery Welshman 50

*Four games still not played (listed as PPD/TBD)…
New York @ Chicago… Montreal @ Toronto… Houston @ Montreal… New York @ Toronto

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