One intriguing item to watch in the final weekend of league play will be how Fort Lauderdale and Edmonton, who face one another, finish. If New York wins the preview contest of the Soccer Bowl in Atlanta Saturday, they could both find themselves with fewer overall 2013 point totals than the Cosmos have posted just in the Fall campaign. It is already guaranteed the Strikers can finish no better as they trail New York by three going into the final weekend.
As for scoring leader, that is a wide-open race between three strong contenders with Hans Denissen (San Antonio), Georgi Hristov (Tampa Bay) and Brian Shriver (Carolina) all even at a dozen goals. But, as was witnessed in the final weekend of MLS this week, a hat-trick type performance could spring a dark horse and Pablo Campos (Minnesota) is three goals back with Luke Mulholland (Tampa Bay) within four.
With the title won, the only question remains is whether the Cosmos were truly the best team or if they were the beneficiaries of having the Spring season off, coming into the fall campaign with fresh players and strong scouting report on all of the opposition while the others had none on them? Either way, if they only finish with one loss, that is an impressive run for a brand-new side.
NORTH AMERICAN SOCCER LEAGUE
With the hopeful Rowdies not in action until Sunday, all eyes were focused Saturday toward San Antonio where the Cosmos were looking to clinch the Fall title. Tomasz Zahorski put the hosts in front after just three minutes courtesy of Dennis Chin and the Scorpions held the advantage through to the break, but a three-minute span in the early stages of the second half was all New York needed. A blast from the edge of the area by Marcos Senna on a ball from Sebastian Guenzatti put New York on even terms in the 52nd minute and in the 54th Diomar Diaz connected with Stefan Dimitrov, who unleashed a curling effort into the upper right corner for what held as the winner despite New York losing defenders Dane Murphy, who came on for an injured Senna, to a red card in the 74th minute that was followed by coach Giovanni Savarese being sent off.
The other two contests finished in favor of the home sides. The RailHawks trounced fellow Spring title contender Atlanta by a 4-0 scoreline with four different goal scorers, and Minnesota pulled away from Fort Lauderdale in a 3-1 win courtesy of Pablo Campos, who scored twice and assisted on the third.
Eliminated from Soccer Bowl contention, the Rowdies allowed the Eddies to grab a two-goal lead in the first half on a pair of goals three minutes apart and were only able to pull one back on a early 47th minute tally from Luke Mulholland 35-yard free kick in the second half.
SATURDAY, October 26
New York Cosmos 2 :: 1 San Antonio Scorpions
SA: Tomasz Zahorski (Dennis Chin) 3
NY: Marcos Senna (Sebastian Guenzatti) 52, Stefan Dimitrov (Diomar Diaz) 54
Atlanta Silverbacks 0 :: 4 Carolina RailHawks
CAR: Henry Kalungi (Zack Schilawski) 10, Austin da Luz (Enzo Martinez) 20, Nicholas Addlery (Zack Schilawski) 66, Brian Shriver (pen) 89
Fort Lauderdale Strikers 1 :: 3 Minnesota United
MIN: Pablo Campos (Lucas Rodriguez) 10, Aaron Pitchkolan (Pablo Campos) 45+3, Pablo Campos (Miguel Ibarra) 74
FTL: Carlos Salazar 28
SUNDAY, October 27
Tampa Bay Rowdies 1 :: 2 FC Edmonton
EDM: Daryl Fordyce (Sadi Jalali) 34, Robert Garrett 36
TB: Luke Mulholland 47
NASL FALL, SPRING & OVERALL RECORDS (as of 10/27/13)
Fall + Spring = Overall… GD/GF
Carolina RailHawks 20 (6-5-2) + 20 (5-2-5) = 40 (11-7-7)… 8/39
Tampa Bay Rowdies 20 (5-3-5) + 18 (5-4-3) = 38 (10-7-8)… 10/47
Atlanta Silverbacks 16 (4-5-4) + 21 (6-3-3) = 37 (10-8-7)… -2/34
Minnesota United 17 (5-6-2) + 14 (4-6-2) = 31 (9-12-4)… -5/33
San Antonio Scorpions 10 (3-9-1) + 20 (6-4-2) = 30 (9-13-3)… -4/33
FC Edmonton 15 (3-4-6) + 14 (3-4-5) = 29 (6-8-11)… 0/25
New York Cosmos 28 (8-1-4)… 9/21
Fort Lauderdale Strikers 17 (5-6-2) + 8 (2-8-2) = 25 (7-14-4)… -16/27
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