It was a vital weekend in the NASL. Unfortunately, the opening drama–the shocking upset of the New York Cosmos by Ft. Lauderdale Strikers–quickly dissipated as every team that could have taken advantage of the Cosmos lost wasting opportunity.
So now, going into the final week of the Spring, the Cosmos have all but secured the first playoff spot of the season by losing. There’s still the slim possibility that New York can be overtaken. If Indy Eleven win by four or more goals over the Carolina Railhawks. It’s not improbable. Indy scored four goals against Minnesota United this Spring (but surrendered two), but has only scored four goals in a match two other times. The last time Carolina lost 4-0 was last October to Ft. Lauderdale. So it’s not out of the realm of hope.
What is out of the realm of possibility, Ft. Lauderdale (a team that was utter dreck for most of the Spring and was saved with the arrival of Ramon Nunez) beating FC Edmonton by eight to win the Spring and Tampa Bay Rowdies winning by seven over Jacksonville Armada. The last week of the Spring won’t have the urgency this weekend had but it might actually have much better performances due to a ‘nothing to lose’ mentality.
The standard 4-4-2 expresses the blandness of this last weekend. There were some good individual showings in the midst of rather poor team efforts. Minnesota’s centerbacks put up the best stats of the weekend as the team failed to overcome one of the weaker teams in the league fielding its weakest line-up to date. Thus I have to look to winners and spoilers for this week’s defensive line of the Best XI–leftback Shawn Nicklaw with Jacksonville, Ft. Lauderdale centerback Dalton and Miami FC’s Adailton, and Rayo OKC’s rightback Kosuke Kimura. In goal, it was Akira Fitzgerald who shone for Carolina.
The midfield this week performed well enough, holding and providing for attack that wasn’t so much neutered as impotent. Carolina’s Austin Da Luz looked sharp but couldn’t create the winning theatrics that had given the Railhawks its early season wins. Juan Guerra for Tampa Bay had himself a perfect passing game, newcomer Jack Blake carried Minnesota’s midfield, and Richard Menjivar playing wide right created Rayo OKC’s chances.
It was Georgi Hristov‘s brace for the Rowdies that was the only real quality in attack across the league. For this reason, he wins Midfield Press’ Player of the Week honors.
Player of the Week Georgi Hristov, image courtesy of Mike Pendleton’s #NASLCards (@)
Next to Hristov, I’m glad to place the Ottawa Fury’s forward Carl Haworth in the Best XI; the striker as routinely been the most genuinely useful attacker on the Fury’s roster.
This coming weekend, Week 11, will afford us the opportunity to not only to create a weekly Best XI but also a Best XI for the Spring. I’d love to hear your thoughts about who merits inclusion the Spring Best XI, so please comment below or tweet at me (@).