Just six days after earning a hard-fought 1-1 draw over 2,500 miles away against FC Edmonton at Clarke Stadium, the Atlanta Silverbacks will host the new-look Fort Lauderdale Strikers. The Silverbacks will be looking to extend their unbeaten streak to six games with a result in Saturday night’s game, which will kick off at 7:30 p.m. at Atlanta Silverbacks Park.
The team’s draw in Edmonton on Sunday afternoon puts them in a tie for second place in the NASL Fall Season standings with the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Facing a very defensive-minded FC Edmonton side last weekend, the Silverbacks were able to pull ahead early in the second half thanks to a goal from midfielder Horace James. With around 15 minutes to play in the game, James’ tally was cancelled out by a goal from FC Edmonton midfielder Chris Nurse, who guaranteed his team a share of the points.
The results from last weekend’s NASL action created a logjam atop the league’s standings. The league-leading Carolina RailHawks sit just two points ahead the Silverbacks and Rowdies, and three points ahead of the New York Cosmos, FC Edmonton, and Minnesota United.
Looking ahead to Saturday’s matchup in Atlanta, the Strikers come to Atlanta Silverbacks Park on the heels of their first league victory since defeating Minnesota United FC back in May. It’s been a dismal year in Fort Lauderdale, forcing them to make a coaching change during the midseason break in July. Austrian coach Gunter Kronsteiner has replaced Daryl Shore, and since that change, things have started looking better for the Strikers.
The club has recently scooped up a staggering four players on loan from MLS sides: goalkeeper Richard Sanchez and midfielder Bradlee Baladez (FC Dallas), and defender Bryan Gaul and midfielder Kenney Walker (Los Angeles Galaxy). They were also able to bring back Paulo Jr., who played for the club before in between stints with MLS sides.
The new signings hadn’t produced a win until this past weekend when the Strikers went on the road and defeated the San Antonio Scorpions, 2-1, at Toyota Field. It was Kronsteiner’s first win at the helm, and one that could give the team some confidence going into their game in Atlanta.
The Silverbacks have been a thorn in the Strikers’ side recently, though. As a matter of fact, Silverbacks Head Coach Brian Haynes hasn’t lost to the Strikers since taking the job late last season. Haynes and the Silverbacks have taken all 12 points from their last four matchups with the Strikers, including a pair of wins during the 2013 NASL Spring Season.
Looking to extend their unbeaten streak to six games on Saturday night, the Silverbacks have been relying more on a stellar defense than a potent offense lately. They have only managed to score a single goal in each of their last three games, but they have also only conceded two in that same time period.
Midfielder Danny Barrera continues to stand out for the Silverbacks. With yet another assist on Sunday against FC Edmonton, the Colombian-born midfielder is tied for the league lead in assists with six. The back line, featuring the likes of Mike Randolph, Beto Navarro, Martyn Lancaster, and Willie Hunt, has been outstanding all year long, having conceded just seven goals in their last 10 league games.
Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday night, with tailgating lots opening at 3 p.m. and stadium gates opening at 5:30 p.m. Help the Silverbacks celebrate the new school year with “Back to School Night.” Call 404-969-4900 to find out more about that promotion and other ticket packages. You can also purchase tickets online at atlantasilverbacksfc.com.