New York Cosmos Are King, Armada FC Is Closing in NASL Spring Season

The NASL Spring Season is a short affair. With only ten games of the thirty-game combined season, the Spring can be a chaotic thing. If one team gets a few lucky goals and a save or two, they can find themselves with a guaranteed spot in the semifinals for the Championship without winning a game in the Fall Season. That brevity also means that we’re only six weeks into the season and every team has played at least half of their Spring schedule, and now that we’re at the halfway point, it’s time to look and see if there are any trends we can discern from the first half of the season.

New York Cosmos Are King, Armada FC Is Closing in NASL Spring Season

The Probable King

The New York Cosmos are going to win the spring season. They can still blow this, but with only four more games to play and a 5-point lead, it’s going to take either a complete collapse on their part or for one of the other teams to basically run the table to finish the Spring.

Why They’re Here

Defense. In six games, New York has only given up 3 goals and 2 of those were in the same game. They have dominated every single opposing offense they’ve played, and if they get into a close game, the money is on them. No team can expect to come in and just outscore the Cosmos.

Why They Should Worry

Their 5-point lead is not unassailable. The Jacksonville Armada have a game in hand, and that extra game makes this potentially only a 2-point lead for New York. Jacksonville is currently 3-0 at home and while they haven’t won either of their two away games, those losses were close. The Tampa Bay Rowdies don’t have that game in hand, but they could take advantage of any slips the Cosmos make as well. To complicate matters, the Cosmos haven’t been winning easy games either. With the exception of the 4-2 win over Edmonton on Sunday, the Cosmos have found it almost as hard to put the ball into the net as their opponents have. Defense only keeps you in the game. If the Cosmos can’t keep the offensive momentum they found in week 6, they may find the rest of their season much less fun.

What Should Be Their Goal

Win now. Their ability to get goals is their greatest weakness so far and, while that could change, it could also turn into a major problem in the lengthier Fall Season. For New York, the best bet for making the Championship playoffs is to finish what they started in the spring.

The New Guys

Maybe the fact that the Jacksonville Armada are sitting second in the standings this late in the Spring isn’t surprising to you if you stopped paying attention after week one when they just humiliated FC Edmonton in the first half and held on for an easy win to finish the game, but the guys from north Florida followed that up with two in-state losses during the shortest possible road trip in the NASL. As the team headed into week four, they were in the bottom half of the table and fans may have been wondering if opening day had just been a beautiful fluke. Those doubts didn’t last long, however, as the team followed the unlucky road stretch with back-to-back wins at home. Armada have never drawn a game.

Why They’re Here

Jacksonville is here because of offense. No team has scored more goals this season and only Edmonton has scored as many goals per game as Armada. Despite their scoring success, the Canadian team is tied for next-to-last place, possibly because their goals allowed total suggests they’re fielding a team made up entirely of forwards. Unlike Edmonton, Jacksonville has been competent defending against opposing attacks, only allowing an opponent to score more than a single goal once this season and earning their first clean sheet Saturday.

Why They Should Worry

New York is already 5 points ahead and no one can really plan on their falling apart. It could happen, but the Cosmos keep pulling out wins even when they’re close. For Jacksonville, a game in hand is nice, but you have to win that game for it to actually mean anything.

What Should Be Their Goal

Win now. While it seems likely that the Cosmos will hold onto their lead, that doesn’t mean that Jacksonville doesn’t benefit from fighting for the Spring Championship now. Even if they fall short, it would not be the end of their season. The way the NASL has things set up, four teams make the playoffs. The champions of the Spring and Fall Seasons will get automatic bids and then the teams with the best combined records fill in the remaining slots. Even though the Fall Season is disproportionately important in earning one of these best schedules, that doesn’t mean you can just give up on the Spring Season. Even if Armada can’t overtake the Cosmos now, they really want to finish as close to the top of the table as possible before the midseason break.

Everyone Else

There are other teams who could make a late season run and either pass the Cosmos or at least put themselves into position to be one of the Championship semifinalists. After, even lowly San Antonio, a team that until Saturday had only one point in four games, still has a mathematical chance of winning the Spring. Several teams can even make strong arguments that they’re in a good place to end up with much stronger showings in the Fall Season. The Atlanta Silverbacks have one of the most formidable defensive lines in the league and a goalkeeper in Steward Ceus who doesn’t have to make a lot of saves, but looks unbeatable when he does. While they have struggled in the attack so far, this is basically a teams that was built from scratch in the off season. Edmonton is the exact opposite, a team that has actually found the back of the next pretty easily, but can’t seem to stop opposing teams from doing the same. A little tweaking to that part of their game and the wins could start coming.

The truth is that, even with New York’s 5-point lead after week six, the NASL is a league of parity. Seven of eleven teams have only one win. Most of the teams have more draws than losses. This is a league where nearly anything can still happen.

But the Cosmos are still going to win the spring.

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