NASL Championship brackets now set as Rayo wins final playoff spot

233178_2016-10-30_12-33-39Rayo OKC won the final playoff spot on Saturday night, despite the fact that their last regular season match would not kick off until Sunday. Requiring a win and a Rayo loss, Minnesota United instead lost their final NASL match against the Cosmos, granting the expansion side a spot at Shuart Stadium for the postseason match next weekend.

They’ll join FC Edmonton on the road as the Eddies travel to Indy. One thing both road teams have in common? Though they’ve both played a pair of tightly contested road matches this year, neither of them have won a game this year at the venue they’re traveling to.

119695_2016-10-30_12-37-40The New York Cosmos will host Rayo OKC at 7pm on Saturday, November 5th, the third time Rayo will make the trip to Hofstra.

Rayo still have a match remaining today, but are in impressive form as they cruise into the postseason. Their last loss came on September 3rd. Since then, they’ve been on a nine-game unbeaten streak, including wins in their last four straight. Their win last weekend put them in the driver’s seat for the postseason, and they’ll play their final regular-season match today with nothing on the line.

New York finish the season on an impressive run of their own, winning their last three, unbeaten in their last six, and only one loss in their last 16 matches, of which they’ve won 11. This was enough to secure them the Fall and Combined titles. They are also unbeaten at home in their last 19 matches, going 14-2-0 at home in 2016.

The season series between the two has been heavily battled:

  • Their first encounter in New York was heavy on ejections as Michel, Billy Forbes, and Georgios Samaras were all tossed from the match, Danny Szetela scored, and Jimmy Maurer held Rayo scoreless in a match that ended 1-0.
  • The second game was all Rayo as Michel buried a penalty and a free kick, Samaras added a goal in stoppage, and Daniel Fernandes kept the Cosmos’ guns silent as the home team shut them out 3-0.
  • The rubber match ended in a draw as an early Samara goal was negated by an Adam Moffat penalty back in New York.

Due to events on the field during their short time in the NASL and perhaps due to the San Antonio Scorpions connection to this team, it’s become an exciting match to watch and one would expect that trend to continue this weekend.

135981_2016-10-30_12-38-01In the other bracket, FC Edmonton will travel to “The Mike” for the third time this season on November 5th, playing at 3pm.

The Eddies finished their season losing three of their last four matches, but have looked consistent much of the year with 16 shutouts and a stunning 21 goals permitted across all 32 league matches this season.

Indy, winners of the Spring Season, still have a match left today, but are winners in their last three and unbeaten in their last four, with one loss in their last seven games. They also wrap up 2016 unbeaten at home with a 13-3-0 record.

The season series also ended in a draw for them.

  • The opening match in Indy in the spring after goals from Greg Janicki and Jake Keegan ended the match in a 1-1 draw.
  • The follow-up in Indy ended in a win for the home team after Janicki struck again and Jon Busch preserved the 1-0 shutout.
  • Edmonton won the final encounter at home 2-1, overcoming an Eamon Zayed goal with a goal from Papé Diakite and a stoppage time winner from Ben Fisk

Neither of the visiting teams have scored a road win against their playoff opponents but both have performed well. One other thing to keep in mind: since the postseason format changed in 2014, three of the four hosts have won and advanced to the Final.

Anything can happen next weekend and the only thing NASL fans should expect are a pair of well-played and highly competitive matches.

 

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