The NASL Spring Season is in the books, and with the Fall season about to start, we’re taking a look back at what happened in the Spring.
The New York Cosmos won the Spring Season championship, securing the first spot in The Championship playoffs. The final table has the Cosmos just one point ahead of Tampa Bay, but New York had the championship essentially wrapped up by the next to last weekend of the season. It would have taken a 7-goal win by Tampa Bay to get past New York.
The winner of the Fall Season will also qualify for The Championship playoffs, along with the next two teams with the highest point total from the combined 2015 season. If the Cosmos also win the Fall season championship, the next three teams in the combined table will make the playoffs.
At the end of the Spring season, those teams are Tampa Bay (19 points), Carolina (14), and Minnesota United (14). But the next five teams on the table are certainly within striking distance with a good Fall. Indy Eleven (13), Jacksonville Armada (12), San Antonio Scorpions (12), Fort Lauderdale Strikers (11), and Ottawa Fury FC (11) are very much in the hunt for a spot in The Championship. Tampa Bay is in a strong position with a five-goal lead over the third place teams, but the final two spots are wide open.
Improvement over 2014
I looked at how the teams performed on a points per game (PPG) basis, comparing their combined (both Spring and Fall) seasons from 2014 to the 2015 Spring numbers.
Tampa Bay was by far the most improved team going from 1.1 PPG in 2014 to 1.9 PPG this spring. Not surprisingly, they jumped up from 7th place in 2014 to 2nd place this Spring.
Indy (1.0 to 1.3) and New York (1.6 to 2.0) also improved significantly. Indy went from 9th to 5th place in the standing and the Cosmos jumped two spots from 3rd to 1st.
On the other side of the coin, defending champion San Antonio had the most significant drop, from 1.9 PPG to 1.2, falling from 2nd in combined table to 7th in the Spring. FC Edmonton (1.4 to 0.9) and Minnesota United (2.0 ot 1.4) also fell off their 2014 pace, with FCE dropping four places and MUFC three places in the standings.
There was a strong correlation between goals scored and place in the standings during the Spring season. The Cosmos scored the most goals with 18 and ended up in first place. The rest of the league continued the trend of more goals scored equating to higher places in the standings, with one big exception. FC Edmonton scored the second most goals in the Spring with 16, but finished in 10th place due to giving up 22 goals.
Not surprisingly, Ottawa Fury FC gave up the fewest goals, just eight. This isn’t surprising because the Fury are riding a five game, 526 minute shutout streak and have six shutouts on the season. But a league low five goals scored has the Fury in 9th place in the table. New York and Tampa Bay were right behind Ottawa with just nine goals allowed.
You can probably guess that Fury FC keeper Romuald Peiser leads the NASL with a 0.80 GAA for the Spring. Cosmos goalie Jimmy Maurer is right behind Peiser, boasting a 0.90 GAA. Peiser and Mauer are the only two goalies in the league to have played all 10 games and their GAAs are significantly better than the rest of the league’s keepers.
San Antonio forward Omar Cummings has a slim lead in goals scored with five, but seven players are right behind, with four goals.
Georgi Hristov, Tampa Bay’s midfielder, has the top spot in assists with five. Three other players are tied for second place with four assists.
As far as bookings, Jacksonville defender Fabricio Ortiz leads the way with six yellow cards. Assist leader Georgi Hristov also leads the league in red cards with two.
The NASL Fall season starts July 4 weekend with a full slate of games on Saturday and Sunday.
There will be a lot of intensity and pressure in the fall, with eight teams having a very realistic chance to make The Championship playoffs. I’m picking Tampa Bay, Minnesota, and San Antonio to round out the playoff field with the Cosmos.
And look for the Atlanta Silverbacks to be the most improved team in the Fall. The Silverbacks’ seven goals scored is a misleading statistic. Atlanta had a creative offense all Spring and were just unlucky to not have scored more goals and grabbed more wins.
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