Just when the uber-competitive NASL table was beginning to make sense we get thrown another curve-ball. Last night Fort Lauderdale had an opportunity to essentially shut the door on Tampa Bay and the rest of the chasing NASL field and close-in on the final spot in the NASL Championship. However, the Strikers came out flat against last-place San Antonio at Lockhart Stadium and despite an active second half where Fort Lauderdale created a plethora of chances they were unable to break through.
The Strikers still control their own destiny in the spot for the final Championship spot but play both remaining games away from home against the two highest-drawing teams attendance wise in the league. Thus, Tampa Bay has a more straightforward path to a postseason spot. Defeat struggling Carolina at home Saturday and then win in New York the following week. Ottawa clinched the Fall NASL Title on Wednesday night defeating Jacksonville, meaning if New York does not get full points Saturday against San Antonio the game against the Rowdies will be a dead rubber for them.
Fort Lauderdale has won only 3 of its last 7 matches while Tampa Bay has not won a league game in over a month. Both sides are limping toward the postseason indicating that while NASL touts that less than 40% of its teams make the Championship as compared to 60% making the MLS Cup Playoffs, the league is so weak that at least this season, three would be enough?
We will have a Kartik Report show featuring Ken Mendonca, Audio from Strikers Coach Günter Kronsteiner and Nipun Chopra previewing Indy Eleven late Thursday. I’ll be in St Pete for Tampa Bay v Carolina on Saturday and will have a full wrap-up Sunday or Monday.