The Atlanta Silverbacks played to a scoreless draw against the NASL’s newest team, the San Antonio Scorpions, in their season opener Saturday night at Atlanta Silverbacks Park.
Playing in front of a sellout crowd of 5,000 fans, the Silverbacks fielded a lineup featuring six newcomers, including World Cup veteran Danilo Turcios. The Honduran midfielder was the first to create a scoring opportunity, shooting into the side of the net from close-range in the 17th minute.
The Scorpions fired back six minutes later when midfielder Kevin Harmse tested Silverbacks goalkeeper Daniel Illyes from 20 yards. The Hungarian goalkeeper could only palm the ball over after a powerful shot from Harmse.
After another good chance from Turcios, the Silverbacks came close to taking an advantage into the locker room at halftime. In the 45th minute, defender Martyn Lancaster had a close-range header cleared off the line after a scramble in front of the net.
The Silverbacks didn’t waste any time producing another scoring chance in the 48th minute, but forward Nico Colaluca’s drive fell wide of Scorpions goalkeeper Pat Hannigan’s far post.
The visitors took control midway through the second half, forcing a pair of strong saves from Illyes. In the 57th minute, forward Hans Denissen blasted a low shot that Illyes could only punch out for a corner kick, and shortly after, forward Pablo Campos came close to putting the Scorpions ahead with a breakaway opportunity. Illyes came out and kicked away the Brazilian’s effort, preserving the 0-0 score.
A pair of late efforts from defender Kohei Matsushita and Colaluca nearly gave the Silverbacks an opening night victory, but Hannigan was up to the task, earning the Scorpions a shutout in their first ever professional game.
The Silverbacks head on the road to play the Carolina RailHawks on Saturday, April 14, before returning home to host the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Youth Soccer Night the following Saturday. To purchase tickets, visit atlantasilverbacks.com or call 404-969-4900.
Atlanta Silverbacks Starting XI: Daniel Illyes-GK, Patrick Robertson–D (Willie Hunt 66’), Kohei Matsushita–D, Martyn Lancaster–D, Rilla–D, Danilo Turcios–M (Lucas Paulini 72’), Raphael Cox–D, Shane Moroney–M, Tony McManus–M, David Santamaria–F (Rienaldo Navia 72’), Nico Colaluca–F
San Antonio Scorpions Starting XI: Pat Hannigan-GK, Wes Knight-D, Blake Wagner-D, Ryan Cochrane-D, Fabian Kling-D, Javier Saavedra-M, Josue Soto-M, Jonathan Greenfield-M, Kevin Harmse-M, Hans Denissen-F, Pablo Campos-F
Stats: Shots (ATL 11, SAN 5), Cautions (ATL 2, SAN 2), Saves (ATL 4, SAN 5)