The Atlanta Silverbacks moved into first place after defeating the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, 1-0, at Lockhart Stadium Saturday evening despite being reduced to 10 men in the second half.
The first half began with some back and forth play with both teams seeing early looks on goal. In the first minute, Silverbacks midfielder Danny Barrera tried to play in fellow midfielder Milton Blanco, forcing Strikers goalkeeper Matt Glaeser off his line.
The Strikers would see more chances as the half wore on, continually pressuring the Silverbacks back line. Strikers forward Darnell King found holes in the defense on a few occasions, causing Silverbacks defenders Beto Navarro and Martyn Lancaster to scramble away clearances.
Lancaster would see yellow before long, as he took down Strikers midfielder Manny Gonzalez in the 18th minute. The Silverbacks would change the tone of the game towards the end of the half with Barrera seeing the Silverbacks best chance.
In the 45th minute, Silverbacks midfielder Borfor Carr found Barrera at the top of the box for the Silverbacks best chance of the night. Barrera settled and fired a low shot that narrowly missed the post. The game went into halftime scoreless at 0-0.
The second half started off with the Silverbacks exerting the pressure with good chances from Barrera. Defender Mark Bloom sent in a perfect cross, but Barrera’s header could not find the back of the net and it went over.
Barrera would be involved in the majority of the play, but in the 63rd minute, Barrera got tangled with Pecka and was sent off, reducing the Silverbacks to 10 men for the remainder of the game.
The Silverbacks kept it competitive, limiting the Strikers attacks. Ironically, former Silverbacks forward Jahbari Willis was subbed on and had a major chance in the 83rd minute to put the game out of reach when he got the ball one-on-one with Nasco.
Nasco was able to make a tremendous save and keep the score at 0-0. With five minutes of stoppage time added, the Silverbacks had time for one last attack.
Substitutes Kellen Gulley and Horace James made the impact as Gulley played in James behind the defense. James tried to round Glaeser, but the Strikers goalkeeper brought James down for the penalty kick.
Midfielder Richie Menjivar stepped up for the crucial kick, and the El Salvador international gave the Silverbacks the lead and sent them back into first place ahead of the Carolina Railhawks, who play against FC Edmonton on Sunday.
Next Saturday, the Silverbacks host the Tampa Bay Rowdies, who lost to the San Antonio Scorpions 2-1 for their third home loss of the season, at 7:30 p.m. Atlanta Silverbacks Park. For tickets, please visit atlantasilvertbacksfc.com or call 404-969-4900
Atlanta Silverbacks XI: Nasco; Lancaster (C), Hunt, Navarro, Bloom; Menjivar, Blanco; Carr (88’ Cruz), Barrera, Mendes (77’ Gulley), Luna (66’ James).
Fort Lauderdale Strikers XI: Glaeser; Guillaume, Thomas (C), Chavez, Guerrero; Ståhl, Gonzalez (45’ Restrepo), Pecka, Salazar; Johnson (77’ Willis), King (68’ Hassan).