Atlanta, GA (April, 19 2014)- In week two of the North American Soccer League season the Atlanta Silverbacks returned to their home pitch 0-1 after an opening week loss to last year’s NASL Soccer Bowl Champs, the New York Cosmos. It marked three straight losses in a row to the Cosmos dating back to the end of last season. On this night, it was the San Antonio Scorpions who would spoil the Silverbacks effort to even their record with a 2-1 road win at Silverbacks Park.
Both teams went scoreless in their opening week losses and the majority of the first half of this match would remain much the same. Neither team got truly settled, possession exchanged throughout the half, but it would be the Scorpions who struck first on a set piece goal from about 30 yards out in the 34th minute. Former Silverback forward, Danny Barrerra, found Greg Janicki on an outswinging free kick at the top of the six yard box. The ball caromed off Janicki’s back and into the net to make it 1-0, marking the fourth set piece goal allowed by the Silverbacks this season.
Defender Bobby Reiss noted that set piece defense is a place where the Silverbacks need to get better.
“It’s a mentality, individually. We know our marks going into the game and you get your man in the box and it’s a one vs one battle so we just need to work on winning those one vs one battles more.”
The Silverbacks did manage a few chances, however. Belizian forward Deon McAulay had a trio of good chances. In the 12th minute a low screamer from just inside the 18 yard box was corralled by Scorpions goalkeeper David Bingham. In the 18th minute, David Estrada’s service found McAulay who popped a shot over the bar. His best look came in the 21st minute when he found himself wide open on the back post, but a poor shot again soared over the bar. Not so ironically, McAuley did not return to the lineup to start the second half.
It didn’t take long for the Scorpions to tally a second goal. Shaun Saiko found the net in the opening minute of the half and quickly the Silverbacks were down 2-0.
Shortly after, the Silverbacks earned the momentum creating a number of chances around the San Antonio goal. Jaime Chavez, on for McAulay to start the half missed a header off a cross from Edgar Espinoza in the 47th minute. Espinoza then had a header of his own hit the post in the 57th. Additionally, a fury of set piece opportunities went unfruitful until the 82nd minute when Junior Burgos’ free kick found the head of Junior Sandoval in the box cutting the Scorpion lead to 2-1.
“I saw the ball coming, I saw Junior, he was going to put it right there, I know his technique and I just went for the header,” said Sandoval.
The Silverbacks would get one more legitimate chance, Espinoza collecting a rebound from a free kick and attempting a half-volley to the near post, but it was swallowed by Bingham.
In both games this year it seems the Silverbacks needed a half to settle into the game. They’re not the most possession oriented team, opting for long passes through the air and a more direct style of play.
“We don’t really care how we play at this point as long as we get the result, which, I think we showed today that playing a little more direct got us some more momentum going forward,” said Reiss.
With the loss the Silverbacks go to 0-2 on the season. They will hit the road again next weekend to face the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Kickoff scheduled for 7:30 pm on Saturday night.
Alec Campbell, Sports Radio 92.9 The Game
Follow Alec on Twitter @AlecCampbell5