By MIKE GRAMAJO
Week 12 of the North American Soccer League saw plenty of movement on the table this past weekend, seeing the Carolina RailHawks take sole position of first place after rallying back against Minnesota United FC for the 3-2 victory at WakeMed Soccer Park on Saturday.
RailHawks forward Brian Shriver leveled and scored the game winner, his league leading eighth goal of the season, in the 80th minute after trailing United by two goals inside the first 10 minutes.
“We deserved to win today, we were the better team,” RailHawks coach Colin Clarke told NASL.com. ”It was fun to watch. It was a great game. In the second half we continued to pass the ball well and created more chances and got the goals we needed.”
The RailHawks surged back in stunning action when forward Cesar Elizondo placed a through ball for midfielder Floyd Franks, which saw the former Vancouver Whitecaps man get dropped in the penalty to put one back for Carolina after scoring the penalty kick in the 25th minute.
Shriver leveled the match in the 86th when midfielder Kupono Low’s chip gave Shriver a clear opportunity to nail the ball toward the net. Moments later, Shriver headed in a corner kick from midfielder Ciaran O’Brien for the game winner.
Here’s a closer look at the rest of Week 12 in NASL action:
ROWDIES FALL FROM RACE DESPITE VICTORY
Two second-half penalty kicks were all the Tampa Bay Rowdies needed to secure a 2-1 victory over the Atlanta Silverbacks at Atlanta Silverbacks Park on Saturday.
“All credit to Atlanta, who really pressed hard, but I thought we came out in the second period and played very brightly,” Rowdies coach Ricky Hill told NASL.com. “I have to give our players credit for sticking with it and getting three points at the end. If they give me that much effort every week, I can’t complain.”
Silverbacks midfielder Beto Navarro brought Rowdies forward Georgi Hristov down in the penalty area in the within five minutes into the second half, which saw the Bulgarian give the Rowdies the lead from the spot.
Life only became worse for the Silverbacks in the 57th minute when the referee whistled for a handball, awarding the Rowdies a second penalty kick that forward Mike Ambersley converted for the 2-0 lead. The Silverbacks responded three minutes later when midfielder Pablo Cruz placed in a free kick past the Rowdies goalkeeper to cut the deficit in half, but they didn’t have enough left in the tank to complete the comeback.
The Silverbacks visit WakeMed Soccer Park on Saturday in a do-or-die matchup against the RailHawks. While the Rowdies, who are out of the race to host the Soccer Bowl, have a bye-week on week 13.
SCORPIONS STING THE EDDIES AT HOME
Forward Hans Denissen’s stoppage-time winner lifted the the San Antonio Scorpions to a much-needed 2-1 victory over FC Edmonton on Saturday at Toyota Field.
“If you give a team two goals in any league it’s very difficult to come back from and we have to blame ourselves for the loss,” Silverbacks coach Brian Haynes told NASL.com. “We might have played well as far as the game is concerned but we didn’t play smart and that is when the mistakes came.”
Denissen’s first strike came in the sixth minute after lobbing the ball past Eddies goalkeeper John Smits. The Eddies answered just 60 seconds later when Daryl Fordyce curled in a shot toward the left corner, deflecting off the post for a goal. But it was Denissen’s 90th minute goal that kept the Scorpions hopes of hosting the Soccer Bowl alive.
The Scorpions still have a chance to finish first as their next two matches are must-wins, however, the RailHawks could end that if they win next week against Atlanta.
What did you think of Week 12? Do you believe the RailHawks can clinch hosting the Soccer Bowl next week? Surprised to see the Rowdies out of the race?
Share your thoughts below.