The Atlanta Silverbacks are set to kick off a key two-game homestand on Saturday night against NASL defending champs Minnesota Stars FC at 7:30 p.m. at Atlanta Silverbacks Park.
Playing without key attacking players Matt Horth and Borfor Carr, the Silverbacks grinded out a scoreless draw last weekend against the Tampa Bay Rowdies at Al Lang Stadium. It was a performance that was very different from their explosive 4-2 win over the Fort Lauderdale Strikers the week before, but the defense, led by captain Martyn Lancaster, stood strong against a Rowdies team that had won five straight home games coming into the contest.
The Rowdies had a few close scoring opportunities throughout the game – none bigger than the penalty kick that forward Matt Clare saw saved by Silverbacks goalkeeper Daniel Illyes. The Hungarian leapt to his left to smother Clare’s effort, which came just seconds before the halftime whistle was blown.
The Silverbacks clearly missed the presence of Carr and Horth, struggling to create much offensively against a stout Rowdies defense. Carr had scored a spectacular goal against the Strikers the week before, but had to miss the game due to an illness, while Horth was looking to continue his fine form. The 6-foot-3 forward was on a hot streak before missing the game, scoring six goals in eight games.
The last several weeks have been tough on the Stars, who have only picked up four points in their last seven games. During that stretch, Manny Lagos’ club has struggled mightily on the offensive end, scoring just four goals.
The Stars are led in the back by captain and veteran defender Kyle Altman, while forwards Martin Nuñez, Simone Bracalello, and Amani Walker have all been productive offensively at times this season. Nuñez and Bracalello are tied for the team lead in goals with five, while Walker has tallied four.
The 2012 season series between the Silverbacks and Stars has been dead even, with each team holding a 1-1-1 record. The Silverbacks came out on top in the last meeting on July 7, earning a 2-0 road win, which was the first of Eric Wynalda’s professional coaching career.
The two teams played to a 3-3 draw the last time they met in Atlanta, which was a heartbreaking result for the Silverbacks. Forward Reinaldo Navia led the way with a pair of goals, putting the Silverbacks in position for a win. The Stars stormed back from a 3-1 deficit late in the game, though, earning a dramatic point thanks to a long-distance strike from defender Justin Davis.
Saturday’s matchup is set to kick off at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are still available. To purchase tickets, call 404-969-4900 or visit atlantasilverbacks.com.