After a dramatic 3-3 draw last Saturday at Atlanta Silverbacks Park, the Atlanta Silverbacks and Minnesota Stars FC are set to face off again, only this time at the NSC Stadium in Blaine, Minn. this Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
The rematch comes just one week after the Stars (1-3-0) tallied two goals in the final seven minutes to steal a share of the points against the Silverbacks (0-4-0) in Atlanta. It was a disappointing result for a Silverbacks team that played perhaps their best offensive soccer of the season in the second half.
The Silverbacks get an immediate chance for redemption this weekend, and they will be able to field a full-strength squad for the first time in several weeks. Defender Kohei Matsushita returns from injury after missing the last two games in Atlanta.
After playing their first home game at the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis, the Stars will be hosting their first game of the year at the NSC Stadium. For Saturday’s game, the Stars get an important member of their team back, with defender and team captain Kyle Altman returning from a red card suspension. The veteran’s presence was missed last Saturday, as the Stars defense conceded three goals and looked shaky at times against a potent Silverbacks attack.
The Silverbacks enter the match in a unique position, holding an undefeated record, but yet sitting in sixth place in the league standings. Alex Pineda Chacón’s team has opened the season with four straight draws, but the Silverbacks’ offensive performance has been strong.
Forward Reinaldo Navia, who picked up NASL Offensive Player of the Week and NASL Player of the Month honors this past week, has led the Silverbacks attack this season, scoring five goals in just three starts. The Silverbacks hope Navia, the leading goal scorer in the NASL, can take his good form with him on the road this weekend when they take on the Stars, who he scored twice against last Saturday.
The Stars will come into Saturday’s contest at home with confidence. In their last two games, they’ve managed to secure late draws on the road, earning two valuable points in the standings. The Stars have also scored seven goals in their last two games, so their offense has been clicking on all cylinders.
Two forwards at the forefront of the Stars’ recent goalscoring run have been Amani Walker and Devin Del Do. Walker was impressive against the Silverbacks last Saturday, scoring one goal and assisting on another, while Del Do enters this weekend having scored in each of his last two games.
Should the Silverbacks notch their first win of the season on Saturday, they would leapfrog the Stars in the standings and could even find themselves in the top half of the league despite having at least one game in hand on most of the other teams in the league. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. CT from the NSC Stadium in Blaine, Minn. and the game can be watched live at atlantasilverbacks.com/live.