Atlanta, GA (August 10th, 2013)- The Atlanta Silverbacks returned home amidst overcast skies and thick humidity looking to open the fall NASL season 2-0. A 1-0 victory over Minnesota FC a week prior saw the Silverbacks continue their winning ways after capturing the spring season title in early July.
This week it was the 1-0 Carolina Railhawks who visited Silverbacks Park looking for their first win over Atlanta in this calendar year. The Railhawks, however, are 8-3-6 in the history of the matchup.
Carolina opened the game controlling much of the possession and tempo, pressuring Atlanta’s 4-3-3 formation early in the match. Despite the pressure, Atlanta was able to muster a few scoring chances including a goal by Brad Stisser which was eventually retracted via an offside call in the 4th minute.
In the 7th minute Carolina had their best chance of the half on a penalty kick after Silverback’s goalkeeper Joe Nasco fouled Cesar Elizondo in the box.
“It was a fifty-fifty ball, and I guess we just kind of got tangled up, and the refs saw that he had a better shot at getting the ball. Certain calls go certain ways,” said Nasco.
Diving to his left, Nasco quickly redeemed himself with a spectacular save on the league’s second leading scorer, Bryan Shriver, and the game remained 0-0.
After the game Nasco credited Silverbacks Chairman Boris Jerkunica for the save.
“I have to give credit to our owner, Boris. He gave me some tips on some PK’s the other day and it actually worked. I did exactly what he said, and it came out on the good end.”
The tie was broken in the 27th minute when Silverbacks defender Borfor Carr found Pedro Mendes just right of the semi-circle at the top of the 18 yard box. Mendes took one touch before unleashing a right-footed laser, beating Carolina goalkeeper Tim Murray to the near post for the half’s lone goal. The Silverbacks led 1-0.
A largely monotonous 20 minutes characterized the beginning of the 2nd half, with possession distributed equally among the two sides. Carolina’s Brenier Ortiz threatened with a low shot that missed wide to Nasco’s left in the 56th minute, and Atlanta’s Danny Barrera was denied when Murray punched a long shot over the crossbar in the 65th minute.
The monotony was broken moments later with the Railhawks able to even the score on a Kupono Low header off a feed from Tiyiselani Shipalane in the 71st minute. Moments later Paul Hamilton threatened for the Railhawks but was denied by Nasco, and Julius James’ header off a corner kick caromed off the crossbar keeping the score 1-1.
Atlanta struggled to get anything going in the second half, creating only a few legitimate chances, and nothing that threatened too harshly.
“They (Carolina) deserved to get a tie, they played well enough to get the tie, but, I didn’t think we created enough chances in the second half,” said Silverbacks Head Coach Brian Haney.
Haney insinuated that the lack of offense may have been due to the substituion of Richie Menjivar who came on for Mendes in the 57th minute. Mendes was booked in the 33rd minute for a hard foul and Haney felt it was best to lessen the risk of a red card given the way the game was being called.
“I wasn’t going to take the chance of losing him for a game or two because of a red card,” said Haney. ”I thought the referee called some dodgy ones, but that’s not what I’m here to do, I’m here to coach my team.”
With the tie, Atlanta is now 1-0-1 in the fall season. They’ll head north of the border next week for a 4pm ET tilt with Edmonton. Atlanta is 0-1-1 in their last 2 matches against the Eddies.
On the night the Silverbacks officially received the NASL spring season championship trophy, a draw seemed a favorable result for the Silverbacks, after errant passes, a lack of possession, and few scoring chances seemed to plague them.
Alec Campbell, Sports Radio 92.9 The Game
Find Alec on Twitter @AlecCampbell5