The Atlanta Silverbacks, fresh off a 1-1 draw at home against the Carolina RailHawks, will head north of the border this weekend, traveling to Alberta on Sunday to take on FC Edmonton at 4 p.m. ET at Clarke Stadium.
The road trips to Edmonton haven’t been easy on the Silverbacks since joining the NASL in 2011, with the team gathering just six points in five contests. The trip covers nearly 5,000 miles round trip, and Edmonton is one of the few places in which a direct flight isn’t available from Atlanta.
All that aside, the Silverbacks will have to feel good about their form at the moment. The team has gone unbeaten in their last four games, and has managed a victory in three of their last four road games.
The Silverbacks can't afford to go into this weekend feeling too confidently, however, with a surging FC Edmonton team serving as their next opponent.
Head Coach Colin Miller’s club dispatched the San Antonio Scorpions in their last game, earning a 1-0 win thanks to a goal from forward Corey Hertzog, who just joined the club on loan from MLS side Vancouver Whitecaps FC. The victory brought the Canadian side within a point of first place, which is shared at the moment by the Silverbacks, RailHawks, Tampa Bay Rowdies, and New York Cosmos.
For 75 minutes, it looked as if the Silverbacks would be able to grind out three points of their own against the RailHawks, however, a late goal from defender Kupono Low gave the visitors a share of the spoils. The Silverbacks had gone up midway through the first half thanks to a goal from forward Pedro Mendes, which was his first since scoring against the Scorpions in the fourth game of the season.
The head-to-head series between these two teams has been an interesting one over the years. Many of the matchups have ended up being overly physical games, with a total of five players being sent off in the last six meetings. One of those games was the last meeting at Clarke Stadium between the Silverbacks and Eddies on May 12. Silverbacks goalkeeper Joe Nasco was sent off early in the first half for handling the ball outside the penalty area, giving FC Edmonton a huge advantage. When it was all said and done, FC Edmonton handed the Silverbacks their worst loss of the NASL Spring Season, topping them 3-0. It was a loss to forget in an otherwise glorious Spring Season campaign for the Silverbacks.
Like every other team in the league, FC Edmonton is gunning for that coveted final spot in NASL Soccer Bowl 2013, which the Silverbacks will host on November 9. They have added some depth by signing a trio of young players: goalkeeper Norbert Janas, midfielder Gagan Dosanjh, and forward Anthony Adur. The major signing is Hertzog, though, who brings with him experience from a pair of MLS sides, the New York Red Bulls and Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
FC Edmonton’s back line, which features the likes of Northern Irishman Albert Watson and Trinidad and Tobago international Carlyle Mitchell, has been outstanding this season. This could cause problems for Mendes and the rest of the Silverbacks’ attack, but the good news is that head coach Brian Haynes’ team hasn't needed to rely on their forwards to shoulder all of the goal-scoring burden. The Silverbacks have gotten a very strong scoring return from their midfielders this season, meaning FC Edmonton will have to keep on eye on much more than the players up top.
The Silverbacks and FC Edmonton will kick off at 4 p.m. ET (2 p.m. local time), and the game can be seen live here. To watch the game with other Silverbacks fans and some of the team’s staff members, head over to the Elder Tree Public House in East Atlanta Village for the Silverbacks’ Official Away Game Watch Party.