July 26th, 2014 (Atlanta, GA)- The last time Minnesota United FC visited Silverbacks Park then head coach Eric Wynalda likened their style of play to that of a Rugby team. Tonight, a tamer version appeared and the Silverbacks were able to escape with a 1-1 tie.
“The opponent doesn’t play soccer. They don’t even play soccer. That’s like, the ugliest soccer I think I’ve ever seen and that’s the best team in this league, so that’s embarrassing,” snarled Wynalda, declining any further comment on the game after that.
There were only two yellow cards shown per team during the match and no overly aggressive fouls to note.
Wynalda is no longer the manager but he’ll retain his role as the technical director. Jason Smith has taken over the head coaching duties after having served in the role from 2005-2008 during the team’s USL days. This was his first game roaming the sidelines again.
“Couple of little things coming back to me as I went along but overall I enjoyed the experience. Like riding a bike,” said Smith.
The Silverbacks entered tonight’s contest 1-0-0 in the fall season after beating FC Edmonton on a late goal from Pablo Cruz a week ago.
Tonight started slowly with neither team threatening that often and neither goalkeeper truly tested in the opening half. Minnesota had the advantage in the possession game but wasn’t able to make much of it. Atlanta had it’s best chance on a corner kick in the 45th minute when Ramiro Canovas’ header bounced off the ground and narrowly missed of the top right corner of the crossbar.
It took only two minutes of second half play for Minnesota to take a 1-0 lead when Daniel Mendes found Christian Ramirez in the box. Atlanta goalkeeper Joe Nasco came off his line aggressively at Ramirez who dragged the ball past the charging Nasco and was able to convert on an empty net.
It was nearly 2-0 in the 68th minute when Mendes got behind the defense with the ball and took a shot that clanged off the crossbar.
The Silverbacks struggled to create quality chances putting only two shots on goal and looked somewhat lackadaisical at times but Smith was pleased with his team’s effort.
“A couple little things I was disappointed in but it wasn’t anything to do with our work rate,” said Smith.
It took the full regulation period and a fortuitous call for the Silverbacks to escape with a point.
Cruz, on as a sub in the 70th minute, dribbled along the top of the box and was fouled. His ensuing free kick went straight into the wall and off the hand of a Minnesota defender prompting referee Chris Penso to award a penalty kick in the final minute of regulation. Jamie Chavez buried the attempt and the Silverbacks came away with a 1-1 tie.
“I wish we would have come away with that tying goal a little bit earlier so we could’ve gone for the second one a little sooner but overall we made the right adjustments and at least we got ourselves back into it.”
The Silverbacks now move to 1-1-0 on the Fall season, good enough for a tie for fourth place in the standings. The team will be on the road next week to face expansion side Indy Eleven for the second time this year. Atlanta came away with a 3-3 draw against the Eleven at Silverbacks Park in June. Kickoff for next week’s game is slated for 7:30 p.m.
Alec Campbell, Sports Radio 92.9 The Game
Follow Alec on Twitter @AlecCampbell5