[NASL] The top seeds in the North American Soccer League are in trouble heading into the second leg of the semifinals. The top-seed Carolina RailHawks trail the NSC Minnesota Stars, 1-0, and have yet to win in five meetings this season. The No. 2 seed Puerto Rico Islanders, the 2010 D-2 Pro League champions, head to Florida for the second leg against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers trailing, 3-1.
The Stars, who clinched a playoff berth with a road win against the RailHawks on Sept. 24, return to WakeMed Soccer Park on Saturday. The game will be broadcast live on NSC Minnesota.com and NASL.com (kickoff: 7 pm ET).
Andrei Gotsmanov’s skillful chip won the first leg in the last minute in Blaine, but the Stars cannot afford to miss the chances they did in Cary.
Carolina boasts the NASL’s best attack (50 goals) and top scorer in Etienne Barbara, nicknamed the Maltese Maelstrom, with 20 goals and eight assists.
The Strikers, who have been on a roll in the playoffs with eight goals in two games, host the Islanders Saturday at Lockhart Stadium at 7:30 pm ET.
Nine Islanders played in World Cup 2014 qualifying on Tuesday: Scott Jones, Richard Martinez, Hector Ramos, Alexis Rivera, Marco Velez, Peter Villegas, Tyler Wilson (all Puerto Rico), Jonathan Fana (Dominican Republic) and Osei Telesford (Trinidad & Tobago).
The Strikers' Cristian Arrieta also played for Puerto Rico in their 0-0 tie with Canada in Toronto.