The first four games of the NASL season have been played, and things went very well as far as Cosmos fans are concerned. When the defending champions open their season against the Atlanta Silverbacks tomorrow, they'll do so knowing that most of the top preseason contenders dropped points in their openers. Here are the scores from Saturday night's games:
Indy Eleven 1 - Carolina RailHawks 1
Indy made their NASL debut in front of a packed house at IUPUI, and they were loud. The squad seemed to feed off of that energy, and managed to break down a very organized RailHawks defense to go into the halftime break up 1-0. Carolina got a quick equalizer after the restart, and managed to hold on for the draw despite visibly tiring late on. Neither club was considered to be one of the Cosmos main challengers this spring, so one point apiece is a great result for New York.
Tampa Bay Rowdies 1 - FC Edmonton 1
Tampa looked the better side early on, and went up 1-0 just 30 minutes in on an own goal. Matt Pickens kept Tampa ahead early in the second half with a penalty save, but Edmonton managed to equalize with just two minutes left to play thanks to a Tomi Ameobi goal. Dropping two points at home to Edmonton isn't a great way for the Rowdies to start their season, but it's a wonderful result as far as I'm concerned.
Ft. Lauderdale Strikers 2 - Ottawa Fury 0
The Strikers got a goal early and a goal late, which was enough to take all three points away from their home opener. Ottawa dominated possession and looked the better side in their first NASL contest but were quite poor with their finishing. I didn't think either of these clubs were particularly likely to push for a spring title before tonight's game, and opening night didn't do much to change that thinking.
San Antonio Scorpions 0 - Minnesota United 2
Defense was always going to be the biggest question with San Antonio this season, and some poor defending (and a great finish) 17 minutes into the contest put them 1-0 behind. Eight minutes later, Julius James decided to go after a Minnesota player lying on the ground, and the Scorpions were down to ten men for the rest of the game.
Minnesota seemed content to sit back and absorb pressure from that point on, while not committing too many men forward to attack. A Kevin Venegas set piece goal with just under 20 minutes to play all but sealed this one, and the team most thought would be New York's biggest challenger opened their season with a home loss. Making matters worse, James will now be facing a suspension, and San Antonio is likely to be without their starting right back for the next several weeks.