So I learned today that ESPN3 streams NASL matches. So, why not watch and blog them?
The 11 team North American Soccer League is considered the second tier league here in the good ol' US of A. It began play in 2011 and has some strong support in many of it's markets. It was the home of the Montreal Impact before their admission to MLS in 2012 and it is also where Minnesota United, who are moving into MLS as their 24th team in 2018, plies their trade, Here's how the season opened up.
Carolina Railhawks 3-1 Ottawa Fury
It was a great first half for Carolina, as they got a goal nice and early from Tiyi Shipalane in the 11th. The goal looked like it was just a cross from outside the box that went a little awry and into the top corner. Ottaw had a chance to equalize in the 28th when they were given a penalty, but the attempt was saved by Carolina keeper Hunter Gilstrap. If that didn't hurt the Fury's spirits enough, they gave away a penalty of their own a minute later that was converted by Nacho Novo. Ottawa pulled one back in the 86th when Brandon Poltronieri beat Golstrap to a free header, but they gave it right back near the buzzer with a well placed shot on a breakaway by Simone Bracalello.
Fort Lauderdale Strikers 0-1 New York Cosmos
It was Leonardo Fernandes giving the Cosmos the advantage jsut before the hour mark. Lauderdale then really needed a sense of urgency to get back into it, but couldn't really develop anything going forward. Even in desperation time, Cosmos kept their final third relatively unscathed.
Atlanta Silverbacks 1-1 Indy Eleven
Shanka Bandura put Atlanta on the board right after halftime and then Atlanta seemed to defend their way to the 1-0 victory. They never really pressed high, but, to their credit, Indy didn't exactly threaten to score until the death of the match. Then, it was disaster for the Silverbacks as a clear penalty was called on a late sliding tackle in the box. Don Smart tucked home the penalty with ease to make sure the honors were even.
Jacksonville Armada 3-1 FC Edmonton
Edmonton must have been enjoying the break from the bleak, cold, spring of north Alberta during their trip to Florida. One minute hadn't been played before Jacksonville scored their first goal in club history. They dropped two more just before the halftime whistle to take a 3-0 lead into the interval. Edmonton's Ritchie Jones scored in the 52nd, but that was all Edmonton had going for them. This match was played in front of an NASL record 16,164 fans at EverBank Stadium, home of the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars.
San Antonio Scorpions 1-3 Tampa Bay Rowdies
Scorpions got off to a great start when Stefan Antonijevic got the scoring started in the 10th minute. Darwin Espinal doubled the lead right before the halftime whistle. Corey Hertzog put the match out of reach in the 61st with a well placed effort from range. Things got a little chippy a few minutes later as there was some jawing after a foul against Tampa Bay. No reds were shown at the time (that came later when San Antonio's Julio James was shown two yellows in the last ten minutes), but there were a few yellows issued. All in all, a total of ten yellow cards and the red were shown between the two sides. Ten man San Antonio did get one just into stoppage time, Omar Cummings buried a rebound for the consolation goal.