By MIKE GRAMAJO
The race to Soccer Bowl 2013 is past the halfway point in the North American Soccer League fall season.
The Tampa Bay Rowdies will try to remain the only unbeaten side in the fall season when they host the Atlanta Silverbacks on Saturday evening (7:30 p.m. WATCH HERE) at Al Lang Stadium.
“Being on an unbeaten run is great but now we need to transform those draws into wins,” Rowdies manager Ricky Hill told NASL.com. “We know Atlanta already has their ticket to the Soccer Bowl, but that does not mean we should come out on Saturday feeling more relaxed.”
Ricky Hill’s men almost earned a pivotal road victory on Saturday but Austin Da Luz’s late goal salvaged a draw for the Carolina RailHawks. On the other side of the coin, the Silverbacks registered their first win since August last week at San Antonio.
Here’s a closer look at this weekend’s NASL matchups:
STRIKERS AND COSMOS RENEW RIVALRY (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. WATCH HERE)
Rivalries are key in soccer, and that makes no difference when the Fort Lauderdale Strikers welcome the New York Cosmos to Lockhart Stadium for the first time in more than 30 years.
Since their meeting earlier this season, the Strikers have gone on a five-game unbeaten run, which has catapulted them into early contenders for the Soccer Bowl in November.
The Cosmos haven’t had much success on the road this season, failing to win any of their road matches this season, though they’ve only lost once. Despite the road issues, the Cosmos still have a one-point lead at the top of the NASL standings.
SCORPIONS LOOK TO STING RAILHAWKS (Saturday, 8:30 p.m. WATCH HERE)
Both the San Antonio Scorpions and Carolina RailHawks have had a poor month of September, as each club has failed to record any wins in the last 20 days. They meet on Saturday at Toyota Field with the chance of ending that skid.
Scorpions forward Hans Denissen picked up NASL Team of the Week honors for Week 7 after scoring his 11th goal of the season in a 2-1 defeat to the Atlanta Silverbacks.
Despite having league-leading goal-scorer Brian Shriver and his 12 goals, the RailHawks will look to their nucleus of players in the midfield if they want to secure a result on the road.
EDDIES HOST UNITED (Sunday, 4:00 p.m. WATCH HERE)
Sharing eights points in the fall standings, FC Edmonton look to take advantage of their home field when they welcome Minnesota United to Clarke Stadium, a place they haven’t lost at since May.
The Eddies are entering this weekend after a controversial 1-1 draw with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers last week. While Edmonton look to keep their unbeaten streak at home alive, Minnesota United hopes to rebound from the 1-0 defeat to the New York Cosmos.
What do you think of the Week 8 action? Do you believe the Rowdies can remain unbeaten? Do you see the Cosmos taking a win at Lockhart? Can the RailHawks keep the Scorpions winless?
Share your thoughts below.