Players from outside the United States scored the majority of goals in the first week of the fall season.
The overseas stars from seven different nations scored 60 percent of the total goals (nine of 15 tallies) to open the 2014 North American Soccer League (NASL) Fall Season, highlighting this week’s NASL International Spotlight.
In his NASL debut, Colombian midfielder Rafael Castillo scored twice, while Gambian forward Sainey Touray added another for the visiting San Antonio Scorpions in the 3-1 victory over the New York Cosmos at Hofstra University’s James M. Shuart Stadium on Saturday. The win also extended San Antonio’s 2014 road winning streak in league play to a perfect 5-0-0.
Meanwhile, in Tampa, Bulgarian forward Georgi Hristov had two goals including the game-winner for the host Tampa Bay Rowdies, which resulted in a 3-2 victory over Atlanta Silverbacks at Al Lang Stadium. Atlanta took a 2-0 lead after first-half goals from midfielder Junior Burgos of El Salvador and Deon McCauley of Belize.
The talent of the NASL kept on shining with Brazilian midfielder Daniel Mendes scoring the first goal of the match for the NASL Spring Champion, Minnesota United FC, in the 3-0 road win over Fort Lauderdale Strikers. Additionally, Uruguayan midfielder Enzo Martinez had the only tally for host Carolina RailHawks in the 2-1 loss to Indy Eleven.
Every week throughout 2014 Season the NASL puts its international stars - both coaches & players – under the ‘NASL International Spotlight’ focusing on the league’s overseas connections.
ROWDIES FORWARD GEORGI HRISTOV NAMED NASL PLAYER OF WEEK-1
It looks like forward Georgi Hristov spent his time very wisely during the World Cup break. That showed clearly on Saturday night during the opening of the North American Soccer League 2014 Fall Season when Hristov scored twice - including the game-winner in stoppage time - to lead the Tampa Bay Rowdies to a 3-2 come-from-behind victory over visiting Atlanta Silverbacks . Hristov’s performance earned him the NASL Player of the Week for Week 1 of the Fall Season.
"It's always good to be named Player of the Week,” said the Bulgarian native Hristov. “Thank you to my teammates for helping me. It sounds like a cliché, but it's true: you can't win an award like this without your teammates.
"All I want to do is help the team by scoring goals and I'm happy I got to do that. Also, thank you to the NASL for selecting me."
Trailing 2-1 with 24 minutes remaining, last year’s NASL Golden Ball winner Hristov scored off a rebound from midfielder Shane Hill’s header that Atlanta’s goalkeeper Derby Carrillo could not handle to tie the match for Tampa Bay.
Bringing the Rowdies all the way back, Hristov added his fourth goal of year when he headed home the game-winner off a corner kick by substitute midfielder Evans Frimpong two minutes into stoppage time.
Ricky Hill was excited for Hristov’s NASL honor: "It's great news for Georgi. I hope it will give him added confidence and kick him on for the remainder of the Fall Season. I'm delighted he got a couple of goals, but his work rate in the second half was what we expect from him. The harder he works, the better he'll be because he's a very talented player."
Hristov played his first NASL season in 2013 and led the Rowdies with 12 goals and eight assists in 22 games played.
Prior to coming the NASL, Hristov spent time in the native Plovdiv, Bulgaria playing with PFC Lokomotiv Sofia (2012), PFC Slavia Sofia (2010-2012), PFC Levski Sofia (2008-2010) - won the national championship and competed in the UEFA Europa League, PFC Botev Plovdiv (2007-2008) - chosen league football of the year, and FC Maritsa Plovdiv (2002-2007).
Hristov has also seen action with FC Ashdod of Israel (2011) and Polish club Wisla Kraków (2010).