By MIKE GRAMAJO
The Carolina RailHawks are going to have to wait one more week if they want to clinch the spring season title in the North American Soccer League.
Former New York Red Bulls and D.C. United midfielder Austin Da Luz scored a late header to salvage a 1-1 draw for the RailHawks against the Atlanta Silverbacks on Saturday night at WakeMed Soccer Park.
The San Antonio Scorpions made sure they stayed in the race after thrashing the Fort Lauderdale Strikers 4-1 at Lockhart Stadium, Saturday evening. With the Strikers falling, it also sent head coach Daryl Shore out the door the following day after a 2-2-7 record and eight points to sit last in the table.
Here’s a closer look at Week 13’s NASL Action:
SILVERBACKS HOLD RAILHAWKS AT WAKEMED
It’s been a rocky week for the Carolina RailHawks. From crashing out of the Open Cup to almost falling to the Atlanta Silverbacks at WakeMed Soccer Park, Austin Da Luz made sure things didn’t end ultimately bad for the club on Saturday evening.
Silverbacks defender Bobby Reis put Atlanta up 1-0 in the 64th minute after am forward Danny Barrera’s free kick found Reis for the clear opportunity to put the ball behind RailHawks goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald.
It took a pivotal set piece from a corner kick to keep the RailHawks alive. Midfielder Ciaran O’Brien whipped in a clear corner kick which found midfielder Austin Da Luz to head home the ball in the 89th minute.
“We knew that the first goal was going to be important tonight as we had our chances and we didn’t take them so it wasn’t what we were looking for,” RailHawks coach Colin Clarke told NASL.com. “It was important that we wanted to win it (the Spring title) in front of our own fans tonight, but we couldn’t so we will have to do it on the road next week.”
Despite the draw, which held the RailHawks from lifting the spring season championship, it extended head coach Colin Clarke’s side unbeaten streak to eight games. The RailHawks play their last game on Thursday, July 4 when they visit Toyota Field to battle a surging San Antonio Scorpions side. A victory or a draw will give the RailHawks the spring title and the rights to host the Soccer Bowl in the fall.
SCORPIONS THRASH STRIKERS
A full team effort and capitalizing on a 10-men Fort Lauderdale Strikers side helped the San Antonio Scorpions record a 4-1 victory at Lockhart Stadium on Saturday night.
Strikers defender Darnell King opened up the scoring in the 11th minute after a defensive error lead the former Florida Atlantic University product to send the ball toward the corner and past Scorpions goalkeeper Jeremy Voulo. Scorpions forward Eriq Zavaleta, on-loan from the Seattle Sounders in MLS, equalized in the 35th minute after a through ball from Hans Denissen.
“We’re not showing the energy we should,” Scorpions head coach Tim Hankinson told the team’s website during halftime. “It’s a vital game and we look sluggish at the moment. We have to rip into our guys at halftime, so we come out with better energy and strength.”
Things got worse for the Strikers moments later. Strikers captian Shavar Thomas was shown a straight red card after aggressively bringing down Zavaleta outside the box. Hans Denissen scored his sixth goal of the season in the 56th minute when Stephen DeRoux curled in a cross which left the Dutch wide open to bury the ball toward the back post.
Zavaleta made sure he nabbed an assist, setting up midfielder Kevin Harmse for a goal in the 67th minute for the 3-1 lead. The Scorpions sealed the victory in the 90th minute when former LA Galaxy man Bryan Jordan scored off a give and go with teammate Fabrice Noel.
The Scorpions host the RailHawks on Thursday in a must-win match for San Antonio if they want to host the Soccer Bowl.
EDDIES WIN BIG AGAINST UNITED
Their hopes for a Soccer Bowl place may have ended earlier, but FC Edmonton made sure they said goodbye to the NASL spring season in a winning matter.
Two first-half goals from defender Mallan Roberts and midfielder Daryl Fordyce were all Edmonton needed to beat Minnesota United, 3-1, on Sunday night at Clarke Stadium.
“It has been a huge learning curve for me,” Edmonton coach Colin Miller told the team’s website. “I had to learn the league, the teams and the stadiums. I am so proud of our team and their strong finish bodes well for the Summer Season.”
Neil Hlavaty created the opening goal in the 11th minute after he sent in a cross as Roberts powered headed the ball behind United goalkeeper Matt Van Oekel. Shaun Saiko set up the second goal in the 24th minute, finding Daryl Fordyce to slide the ball past Van Oakel for the 2-0 lead.
United substitute Miguel Ibarra cut the lead down to one in the 68th minute, but it was the Eddies who answered back with the dagger. Forward Michael Cox was brought down in the box in the 85th minute, which left Hlavaty to score the penalty for 3-1 victory.
What did you think of Week 13? Surprised to see the Scorpions back in the race? Do you think the RailHawks can still clinch the spring title come Thursday?
Share your thoughts below.