The Atlanta Silverbacks will be looking to get back into goal-scoring form after a 1-0 defeat in San Antonio last weekend and the team will have a great opportunity to do so when they host Minnesota United FC this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Atlanta Silverbacks Park.
The Silverbacks looked flat for the majority of last Saturday’s loss to the San Antonio Scorpions, and despite improving their play in the second half, Scorpions forward Tomasz Zahorski’s goal was enough to see the Silverbacks off and hand them their third loss of the NASL Fall Season.
Minnesota United suffered the same fate last weekend, dropping a 1-0 result to the first-place New York Cosmos at NSC Stadium. Former Silverbacks midfielder Paulo Mendes was on target for the Cosmos, while Minnesota United struggled to create many notable scoring chances.
Both teams’ results last weekend certainly didn’t help their chances in the NASL Fall Season Championship race. The Silverbacks will look at their loss to the last-place Scorpions as a giant missed opportunity, while Minnesota United knew they had to take something from their game against the Cosmos to prevent them from widening the gap in the standings. That didn’t happen, and now the Cosmos sit seven points clear of four teams with just four games to play.
All season long this fall, the Silverbacks have been able to hang their hat on the fact that they have already booked their place in NASL Soccer Bowl 2013. With that said, Silverbacks Head Coach Brian Haynes and his team know that they will need to elevate their level of play before the big game. The Silverbacks have limped through the Fall Season, struggling to score goals along the way.
For Minnesota United, saying this Saturday’s game in Atlanta is a “must-win” is an understatement. Head Coach Manny Lagos’ team is one of the four teams that trail the league-leading Cosmos by seven points, meaning they will need to start piling up points regardless of what the Cosmos do in their remaining games.
Looking ahead to the matchup, the Silverbacks have recently had Minnesota United’s number. Haynes’ side has taken a full six points from their last two meetings with Minnesota United – both of them coming on the road in the Twin Cities. The last time Minnesota United came to Atlanta, however, they pulled out an improbable 3-2 win, scoring two unanswered goals in the second half to claim the three points.
On paper, Minnesota United has a very potent attack featuring a trio of players that have caused problems for the Silverbacks in the past. Forwards Pablo Campos, Simone Bracalello, and Mike Ambersley are all proven marksmen, even if the club’s recent scoring record doesn’t suggest it.
The Silverbacks have done well to thwart Minnesota United’s attack in recent games, posting two straight shutouts. Defenders Martyn Lancaster and Mike Randolph sat out last weekend’s game in San Antonio, but both will be available for selection this Saturday, which will help the team’s defensive depth.
Midfielder Danny Barrera is back from a one-game suspension, adding some much-needed firepower to a Silverbacks’ attack that has only scored more than one goal in one game this fall season. Forwards Pedro Mendes and Ruben Luna have each scored a team-high six goals this season, with a pair of Luna’s goals coming against Minnesota United.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Atlanta Silverbacks Park, and the club’s gameday promotion will be Oktoberfest. The promotion will include $3 German draft beers, bratwursts and sauerkraut, polka music, and platinum level seat upgrades for those wearing the best Oktoberfest costumes. Tickets will also be $11 (over the phone and in advance of gameday only) in honor of Silverbacks Technical Director and former #11 for the U.S. Men’s National Team. Call 404-969-4900 to purchase tickets.