Miami Sports Day

NASL: Miami Stays Hot, Jacksonville Falls As Spring Season Nears Halfway Point

NEW YORK – Miami FC’s attack has been running rampant to start the 2017 North American Soccer League (NASL) Spring Season, and the club continued its red-hot form with a highly entertaining victory in Week 8. Miami maintained its position atop the standings after downing previously undefeated Indy Eleven on Saturday night.

The San Francisco Deltas climbed into second place in the Spring Season Standings after scoring late to take all three points away from FC Edmonton. The Deltas have picked up points in each of their first four road contests this year.

In other action, North Carolina FC defeated then-undefeated Jacksonville Armada FC, powered by a strong effort from midfielder Lance Laing. After inclement weather in New York forced the Cosmos and Puerto Rico FC to wait until Sunday for their meeting at MCU Park, both sides put on an attacking show. The Cosmos, though, were able to come out on top for their first home win of the season.

Miami FC 3, Indy Eleven 2

The league’s most dangerous attacking side, Miami FC, put on a show for its home fans in a 3-2 victory over visiting Indy Eleven at Riccardo Silva Stadium on Saturday night.

Enzo Rennella, Dylan Mares, and Robert Baggio Kcira each bagged their second goal of the season to keep Miami at the top of the table. Miami dominated play, and if it wasn’t for a fluky own goal and a defensive miscue, the victory could have been even more emphatic for the hosts.

Rennella got Miami on the board just before halftime, combining well with teammate Kwadwo Poku. After defender Hunter Freeman headed the ball into his own net, Mares gave Miami a quick answer with a cool finish from close range. Four minutes later, Kcira, known for using his left foot, scored with his right foot on a beautiful effort from outside the box.

A late strike from Indy’s Justin Braun, who is now tied for the league lead in scoring with four goals, created some nervy moments at the end of the game. In the end, Alessandro Nesta’s side successfully killed off the game to earn all three points.

North Carolina FC 3, Jacksonville Armada FC 1

Jacksonville Armada FC’s unbeaten streak to start the 2017 season came to an end at Sahlen’s Stadium on Saturday night as the club fell to North Carolina FC, 3-1.

Jamaican international Lance Laing scored twice to pull even with Indy’s Justin Braun for the league’s scoring lead, while fellow Caribbean midfielder James Marcelin chipped in with a goal of his own for North Carolina FC.

The visitors got off to a flying start after an incisive counterattack ultimately ended with Zach Steinberger earning a penalty in the 11th minute. A minute later, Jack Blake dispatched his penalty kick to give Armada FC an early 1-0 lead.

After a wild sequence in front of the Jacksonville goal, Marcelin leveled the score with a firecracker from outside the box. Laing gave North Carolina the lead just before halftime when an intended cross curled over the head of visiting goalkeeper Caleb Patterson-Sewell.

Laing, who is returning to the form that made him a three-time NASL Best XI selection, was active all game long. In the 68th minute, the veteran midfielder drew a penalty kick and finished the job from the spot to make the score 3-1.

Going into the game, Jacksonville hadn’t lost and had only conceded three goals through its first six games. North Carolina now has the second-highest team goal total in the league.

New York Cosmos 4, Puerto Rico FC 3

The New York Cosmos shook off a slow start to record their first victory at MCU Park on Sunday afternoon. Visiting Puerto Rico FC bolted out to a 2-0 lead, but after a red card late in the first half, the Cosmos asserted their dominance.

The visitors couldn’t have gotten off to a brighter start, with Giuseppe Gentile and Emery Welshman scoring less than two minutes apart in the early going. Gentile’s goal came after some textbook attacking play in the 15th minute. Welshman provided the assist. He got a goal of his own shortly thereafter, firing a shot low into the net after Cosmos defender Dejan Jaković blocked his initial attempt.

Spanish midfielder Yuma was sent off midway through the first half, however, and Puerto Rico’s fortunes changed almost instantly. Salvadoran international Andrés Flores tapped home an easy finish in the 42ndminute before Venezuelan teammate Juan Guerra headed home the equalizer seconds before the halftime whistle.

New York came out of the break full of confidence and it didn’t take the hosts long to grab the lead for the first time. Following a corner kick, defender Ryan Richter ran onto a deft flick from Jaković and powered a header past visiting goalkeeper Trevor Spangenberg to make it 3-2.

After Walter Restrepo doubled the Cosmos’ lead in the 58th minute, Gentile drew a penalty kick for Puerto Rico five minutes later. Club captain Cristiano Dias stepped up to the spot and fired a shot high into the net to cut New York’s lead to 4-3.

Substitute forward Pito Ramos nearly brought 10-man Puerto Rico level at 4-4, but the Puerto Rican international saw his powerful free kick palmed over the bar by Cosmos goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer.

FC Edmonton 0, San Francisco Deltas 1

The San Francisco Deltas continued their strong play on the road, upending FC Edmonton, 1-0, at Clarke Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

In the 89th minute, Cristian Portilla whipped in a free kick that just went over the head of teammate Kenny Teijsse, but the ball bounced into the back of the net at the far post for the lone goal of the game.

The Deltas started the contest on the front foot, forcing Eddies goalkeeper Chris Konopka into a save in the fourth minute when Kyle Bekker let fly from distance. Konopka kept the away side out in the 36th minute on a Pablo Dyego effort before stopping Tyler Gibson’s shot from close range four minutes later.

Jake Keegan nearly gave the Eddies the lead on two occasions. He was first played through by Dustin Corea in the first half, but his shot went over the bar. In the 48th minute, another long ball – this time from Abdoulaye Diakité – sprung the forward into a breakaway, but Keegan sent his shot inches wide of the post.

The win pushed the Deltas road unbeaten streak to four games, including back-to-back wins, and into second place in the Spring Season Standings.

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