Atlanta Silverbacks midfielder PEDRO MENDES has been named North American Soccer League Player of the Week after scoring a pair of goals in the team’s incredible comeback win over the league’s defending champs, the Tampa Bay Rowdies, on Saturday night in St. Petersburg, Fla.
“It’s an amazing feeling to be recognized by the league,” said Mendes. “I’ve been working really hard in training, so having it pay off in such a big way on Saturday night feels really good.”
With his side trailing 3-1 away to the Rowdies, the Brazilian forward caught Rowdies goalkeeper Andrew Fontein off his line and blasted a superb 35-yard finish into the home net to pull Atlanta within a goal of tying the contest.
After teammate Ruben Luna notched his second goal of the game to bring the Silverbacks level at 3-3, Mendes took a pass from midfielder Milton Blanco and fired a shot off the hands of Fontein and into the corner of the net to give the Silverbacks an improbable 4-3 lead. Mendes and his teammates would hold on for the win, keeping them perfect on the season (2-0-0) heading into their home clash with Minnesota United FC on Saturday, April 27.
“It’s always nice when the league recognizes one of our players,” said Silverbacks Head Coach BRIAN HAYNES. “Pedro showed good vision and great technique to score two big goals for us this weekend, so I give full credit to him and his teammates for getting the job done against the defending champions.”
Mendes, 22, joined the Silverbacks from the Rhode Island Reds of the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) midway through the 2012 season, injecting pace and creativity into the Silverbacks lineup. Mendes had previously spent time with Silverbacks Technical Director ERIC WYNALDA at Cal FC, an amateur club that dispatched a pair of professional teams to make it all the way to the fourth round of the 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
The Brazilian scored four goals for the Silverbacks in just eight games last season, including a two-goal game against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in August. He took home NASL Player of the Week honors for that performance, making this week’s award the second of his young career.
The Silverbacks made another announcement on Monday, revealing the signing of defender MARK LAVERY. The 22-year-old defender hails from Woodstock, Ga., and played his college soccer locally at Oglethorpe University.
Next up for the Silverbacks is Minnesota United FC, who comes to Atlanta on Saturday on the heels of a 2-0 win over FC Edmonton this past weekend. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Atlanta Silverbacks Park, and it will be Youth Soccer Night presented by Georgia Soccer. To purchase tickets, call 404-969-4900 or visit atlantasilverbacksfc.com.