By MIKE GRAMAJO
There were fireworks in the sky and on the field for the Atlanta Silverbacks on the Fourth of July.
Two second-half goals from Bobby Reiss and Ruben Luna were all the Silverbacks needed to take a crucial 3-0 road victory against Minnesota United the at National Sports Center to win the Spring Championship of the NASL.
“I am so proud of these guys and how they played,” Silverbacks coach Brian Haynes told NASL.com. “We did what we had to do so I am so proud of the boys who gave a great effort against a good team and we took our chances well.”
Forward Brad Stisser put the Silverbacks up 1-0 in the first 30 minutes after midfielder Pablo Cruz whipped in a set piece outside the box toward Stisser, who headed the ball behind United goalkeeper Matt Van Oakel.
Midfielder Horace James helped set up the second goal in the 72nd minute as his run from the right flank of the field found Bobby Reiss who tapped the ball into the net to double the lead. Forward Ruben Luna tripled the lead ten minutes later after beating a United defender to drill a shot outside the 18 yard line, which was his fifth goal of the season.
Here’s a closer look at the rest of Week 14 action:
SCORPIONS DENY RAILHAWKS FROM TAKING TITLE
Hans Denissen’s two goals denied the Carolina RailHawks from lifting the Spring Championship at Toyota Field, but gave his San Antonio Scorpions side a fifth straight victory to close out the season.
“We had to press the game and I think we did a great job and the energy from the guys certainly came from the heart,” Scorpions coach Tim Hankinson told NASL.com “We wanted to finish this spring season on a high note and I think the fans saw a great one.”
The RailHawks came into the game knowing a draw or a victory would give them the opportunity of hosting the Soccer Bowl in November. Denissen though had other thoughts, putting the Scorpions up 1-0 just before halftime when defender Blake Wagner’s shot deflected off the RailHawks goalkeeper, giving Denissen a clear chance to score.
Things would get worse for Colin Clarke’s side after Scorpions midfielder Walter Ramirez’s shot deflected off a RailHawks defender and careened straight to Denissen, who scored in the 86th minute. The late strike was the Dutch striker’s eighth goal of the season.
With the victory, the Scorpions close out the spring season on a five game win streak while the RailHawks failed to pick up a road victory all season.
ROWDIES THRASH STRIKERS IN FLORIDA DERBY
While this match had no big implications on Thursday night, history between these two clubs made sure this match was a must-see affair.
Keith Savage’s brace insured the Tampa Bay Rowdies close out their spring season defeating the Fort Lauderdale Strikers 4-0 at Al Lang Field.
“The first goal is important especially you are playing at home,” Rowdies coach Ricky Hill told the club’s website. “I’m very pleased that we didn’t have any individual errors on the back line and our goalkeeper Diego did his job for us tonight.”
Georgi Hristov placed a through ball for Keith Savage in the 20th minute, which was the clear cut opportunity for the former Chivas USA and Portland Timbers forward as his shot went past Strikers goalkeeper Matt Glaeser. Savage would grab his double and third goal of the season in the 32 minute after Glaeser failed clearance left Savage open to head the ball into the net.
Despite both clubs already being out of the race to host the Soccer Bowl, the Rowdies were able to pick up their second consecutive victory after a 2-1 road victory against the eventual spring champions Atlanta Silverbacks at Atlanta Silverbacks Park.
Like seeing the Silverbacks win the Spring Championship? What do you think of the RailHawks failing to close out the season on a high? Will the Rowdies and Strikers have a better fall season? Excited to see the Cosmos back in August?
Share your thoughts below.