By MIKE GRAMAJO
Their season may have ended last month, but Manny Lagos’ men decided to go out with a bang.
Omar Daley’s hat-trick and Pablo Campos’ second-half brace lifted Minnesota United FC to a 6-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rowdies at Al Lang Stadium.
“I’m very proud of the guys as it certainly was a wild game,” Minnesota head coach Manny Lagos told NASL.com. “It would have been better if we played better defense but boy did we attack well in both halves. We really wanted to finish the season the right way and get ready for next year.”
After taking a 2-0 lead at halftime, Minnesota and Tampa each scored four goals in the second half. Luke Mulholland reduced the deficit for the Rowdies when he scored a penalty-kick goal in the 52nd minute. Omar Daley bagged his second goal after rifling a rebound shot in the 60th minute for the 3-1 lead.
Campos added the fourth goal for Minnesota after a defensive error in the Rowdies back line lead to the Brazilian to capitalize on the mistake, placing the ball behind goalkeeper Diego Restrepo. Evans Frimpong went on to score a brace for the Rowdies in the final five minutes, but the duo of Campos and Daley proved too much as Daley’s chip over the goalkeeper in the 82nd minute solidified his hat-trick before Campos bagged his brace before the final whistle.
Here’s a closer look at the rest of the weekend’s action in NASL:
FIRST PLACE COSMOS TOP SILVERBACKS
Henry Lopez’s 33rd minute strike gave the New York Cosmos a 1-0 victory over the Atlanta Silverbacks ahead of their Soccer Bowl matchup on November 9.
“The good thing was that we kept the lead,” Cosmos assistant coach Carlos Llamosa told NASL.com. “For us, we count one game at a time and it is a good way to finish the fall season this way, winning away against the spring champions. Every game is important and now the game is over we have to start on Monday to prepare for the next game.”
Despite both sides resting several of their starters, the Guatemalan striker opened the deadlock after Korey Veeder’s cross bounced into the box, leaving Lopez to execute on the volley for the potential game-winner.
Although both clubs have secured their spot in the Soccer Bowl, the Silverbacks look to rebound ahead of their championship game after extending their losing streak to three games.
RAILHAWKS FINISH 2013 UNBEATEN AT WAKEMED
Brian Shriver’s brace not only earned him the NASL Golden Boot, but it also insured the Carolina RailHawks would stay unbeaten at WakeMed Soccer Park after recording a 2-1 victory over the San Antonio Scorpions.
“We made hard work of a game that we should have been in control of,” RailHawks head coach Colin Clarke told NASL.com. “It is pretty fitting that Brian Shriver’s goals will make him a deserved Golden Boot winner. It’s been a good season, but not great because we’re not playing next weekend.”
Sainey Touray’s 27th minute thunderous-strike gave the Scorpions the 1-0 lead before halftime. RailHawks forward Brian Shriver leveled the match in the 68th minute after he buried a penalty kick past Scorpions netminder Jeremy Vuolo. With the match heading into the final five minutes leveled at 1-1, Shiver delivered the game winner when he drilled in a dead ball for the 2-1 lead in the 84th minute.
STRIKERS AND EDDIES DRAW AT LOCKHART
They may have won on the road in 2013, but FC Edmonton finished their fall season drawing 1-1 for the eleventh, this time against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers at Lockhart Stadium in front of an announced attendance of 4,215 fans.
Carlos Salazar gave the Strikers the early lead within the first 10 minutes after burying a penalty kick. However, Massimo Maribelli, who was a second-half substitute, leveled the match in the 73rd minute after a counter attack lead by Daryl Fordyce found the 22-year-old to slot the ball past Strikers goalkeeper Richard Sanchez.
While the Strikers finish 2013 on a two-game losing streak, the Eddies leap-frog over the Atlanta Silverbacks to finish sixth place in the NASL standings.
1. New York Cosmos – 31 points
2. Carolina RailHawks – 23 points
3. Tampa Bay Rowdies – 20 points
4. Minnesota United FC – 20 points
5. Fort Lauderdale Strikers – 18 points
6. FC Edmonton – 16 points
7. Atlanta Silverbacks – 16 points
8. San Antonio Scorpions – 10 points
What did you think of Week 14? Do you think the Rowdies can comeback and win it all in 2014? Can the Cosmos win the Soccer Bowl? Do you think the RailHawks will see glory next season? Will the Eddies finally register a road victory?
Share your thoughts below.