NASL Week 17: A Look Back

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By JOHN BOSCHINI

The Carolina Railhawks will have to wait another week to wrap up their playoff spot.

After a 1-0 victory over the Atlanta Railhawks, Carolina needed only for Montreal to lose or draw against the Puerto Rico Islanders to assure themselves a postseason berth, but the Impact came out with a surprising 1-0 victory of their own.

Puerto Rico's loss, combined with a defeat of FC Edmonton, puts Carolina a whopping 15 points clear of the rest of the field with less than two months left in the regular season. FC Edmonton's consistency problems struck again with a 3-0 loss to the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers.

The Strikers maintained their six-point lead over Montreal for the sixth and final playoff spot but remain three points behind FC Tampa Bay. Atlanta falls back into last place, as its three-game unbeaten streak was snapped by Carolina.

This was also the first weekend in the NASL that featured three shutout victories.

Here is a look back at the weekend action in the NASL:

Carolina Railhawks 1, Atlanta Silverbacks 0

Carolina nabbed its league-leading 14th victory in a game abandoned in the 50th minute after the game was delayed for weather three times totaling two hours.

The Railhawks got an early lead when Etienne Barbara scored his 16th goal of the season. Nick Zimmerman found the Maltese international inside the box and Barbara shook two Silverbacks defenders before beating Felipe Quintero.

The game was delayed in the 22nd, 31st and 50th minutes before the officiating team finally called the game. Carolina extended its home winning streak to nine games and can wrap up a playoff berth this week against Fort Lauderdale.

Fort Lauderdale Strikers 3, FC Edmonton 0

Brian Shriver scored twice in a dominating performance by the Strikers.

With both teams in throwback jerseys, Shriver put Fort Lauderdale ahead in the 14th minute, and Abe Thompson doubled the Strikers lead in the 29th minute. Edmonton had a handful of chances but the Strikers put the result beyond all doubt with Shriver's second in the 76th minute.

Montreal Impact 1, Puerto Rico Islanders 0

Substitute Eduardo Sebrango scored in the 74th minute to give Montreal its first win since June 4.

Neither team managed much in the way of offense with Ali Gerba's breakaway being saved in the 18th minute being the only real chance in the first half. Ryan Pore, on loan from the Portland Timbers, almost put Montreal ahead in the 61st minute, but his point-blank shot was saved just after the hour mark.

The deadlock was finally broken when Sebrango chested down a Phillippe Billy cross and scored from close range. Puerto Rico lost its first game since June 15.

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What did you think of the weekend's games? Confident in Carolina's ability to wrap up the regular-season title? Can Fort Lauderdale put some distance between it and Montreal? Are Atlanta's playoff hopes officially over?

Share your thoughts below.

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10 Responses to NASL Week 17: A Look Back

  1. fischy says:

    What’s the deal with Etienne Barbara? Are MLS teams after him. Would Carolina sell him before the end of the season?

  2. GCScots says:

    Unfortunate turn of weather events cuts short the nice matchup of Barbara vs. Horth. Horth has his touch cleared off the goal line, or else the game ends in a tie! I’m upset the weather didn’t allow us 90 minutes of this excellent Forward matchup. Matty Horth once again proving how much of a threat he is, even against the top team in the league.

  3. chris says:

    I would love to see MLS have some throwback jerseys

  4. CJ says:

    Sure, if the right offer came in. But he’s pushing 30. That might make some MLSers shy away.

  5. NC Jeff says:

    This late in the MLS year, doubt it’s real likely. Now, if a European squad has a need at striker … well, the dude is from Malta, so a work permit is not likely to be any problem.

    That said, I get the feeling he really likes the USA, and would prefer to just stay here if a decent MLS offer / situation came along. Travel to Europe for Malta’s MNT matches also doesn’t seem to be an issue, since he hasn’t played for them in a long while anyway (not sure if it’s a player vs. coach falling out, or if he’s just not very interested in Malta MNT play … my guess is both).

  6. Ivan says:

    Tampa Rowdies won v. Edmonton 3:1 in mid-week action.

    The Rowdies are peaking at the right time and are very enjoyable to watch. Millien, Yamda, King are firing on all cilinders (despite coach Hill putting Yamada to play as a fullback in order to find a place for his misfit son, Shane Hill, in midfield, but that’s a whole different story).

    At any rate, I hope the Rowdies keep it up and finish in the top 3 to get a home game in the playoffs.

  7. brant says:

    It was a player-coach issue that’s kept him off Malta’s MNT.

    I’ve also heard from some folks who work with the ‘Hawks that it would take a knock-your-socks-off offer for either the team or Barbara to consider jumping to MLS. He’s happy living here and he’s making enough money that MLS would have to be a *big* upgrade for him, and it’s unlikely a team’s going to pay him #1 striker money and unseat an incumbent. He’s not likely to go somewhere just to give someone depth.

  8. brant says:

    Yeah, weather sucked… we brought a bunch of Cub Scouts out to their first game there. It was certainly *memorable* – too bad they’re just going to remember the weather.

  9. fischy says:

    Wow. That was random. Don’t start drinking that early in the day.

  10. Chris N. says:

    The July transfer window has closed, so Barbara’s not going anywhere until the offseason at least.