By MIKE GRAMAJO
In a match between the North American Soccer League’s two first-place teams, Minnesota United FC host the Carolina RailHawks on Saturday, and the outcome will determine who takes the top spot early on this season.
The RailHawks, who had a bye-week in week four, look to continue their solid performance which has seen them remain unbeaten along with United.
United are entering the weekend after finishing a brilliant comeback victory, scoring two quick goals in the second half to beat the Silverbacks, 3-2 in Atlanta Silverbacks Park. Forward Simone Bracalello tied the match at two with a goal in the 54th minute and midfielder Aaron Pitchkolan scored the game-winner in the 61st.
“It’s exciting to have two first-place teams playing each other early in the season,” said United head coach Manny Lagos on NASL.com. “We’re eager to get off to a stronger start than we have in our first two games at home, and playing a team that’s doing so well early on is exciting for us and really exciting for the fans.”
Both clubs met last season, which saw the RailHawks snare a 1-0 victory at WakeMed Soccer Park.
Rowdies Welcome The Eddies
The Tampa Bay Rowdies is another first-place team that looks to hold on to the steering wheel, as they welcome FC Edmonton on Saturday.
The Eddies picked up their first victory last week, defeating the San Antonio Scorpions, 1-0, however, they crashed out the Amway Canadian Championship on Wednesday, falling 5-2 on aggregate to the Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
Tampa’s Luke Mulholland, who was named NASL’s player of the month in April, currently has three goals this season. Teammate Georgi Hristov leads the NASL with three assists.
Despite sharing first place with Minnesota and Carolina, Tampa has yet to register a win at home this season, but they look to break that curse, especially against an Edmonton side they have beaten the last six times, and have shut out in the last four.
Silverbacks Visit Winless Scorpions
San Antonio haven’t gotten off to the start they expected as they continue to be winless in their brand new stadium.
Their opponent’s this week, the Atlanta Silverbacks, look to rebound after their home defeat last week, the Scorpions look to win for the first time this season at Toyota Field.
While Atlanta looks to move up in the table, Ruben Luna’s goal scoring may be what the Silverbacks need to build momentum. While the Scorpions, who not only need a win, have not scored in their last three matches.
“It doesn’t matter whether we are playing Atlanta, Carolina, Edmonton or Minnesota; it’s a matter of us playing better football,” Scorpions head coach Tim Hankinson said on the league website. “We have created good chances to score, which is a good measuring stick of the health of the attack, but it’s just a matter of that first goal to go in.”