The Atlanta Silverbacks advanced to the third round of the 2013 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Tuesday night with a 3-2 win over NPSL side Georgia Revolution at RYSA Soccerplex in Conyers.
A pair of goals from Ruben Luna was followed by a strike from midfielder Pablo Cruz, giving the Silverbacks just enough to get by a resilient Revolution side.
Head Coach Brian Haynes made a few notable changes from the starting lineup that defeated the first-place Carolina RailHawks on Saturday night. Haynes handed defender Bobby Reiss his Silverbacks debut, while midfielders Horace James and Cruz received their first starts of the season.
The visitors couldn’t have started Tuesday’s “Battle For Atlanta” any better, going up 1-0 almost immediately. Silverbacks forward Ruben Luna capitalized on a poor headed clearance by Revolution defender Michael Nwiloh, volleying into the corner of the net from 20 yards out in the 4th minute.
Silverbacks defender Mike Randolph nearly doubled his team’s lead just a few minutes later, firing a low shot towards the corner, but Revolution goalkeeper Dennis Kramer was there to parry the ball wide.
The Revolution were far from demoralized following the opening goal, and in the 16th minute, they would equalize. Forward Kwadwo Poku played Ian Smith through on goal, and the midfielder converted beautifully, sneaking a shot inside the near post to tie the game at 1-1.
The ball was then in the Revolution’s net in the 29th minute, thanks to a tap-in from Silverbacks midfielder Horace James, but the goal was called back for offsides. It was disappointing for James, but the Silverbacks wouldn’t take long to get back on the board. Randolph darted inside the penalty area, and was hauled down by a Revolution defender, leaving the referee no choice but to give a penalty kick.
Luna was the one to step up and take it, and he did so with ease, blasting it into the right corner to make it 2-1 in the 31st minute.
The Revolution came out aggressively in the second half, trying to find the game-tying goal, but it was the Silverbacks that would strike first in the second stanza. Midfielder Milton Blanco found the feet of Cruz, and the midfielder made no mistake from 20 yards out to make it 3-1 in the 57th minute.
The determination of the Revolution continued to show, however, with them once again pulling a goal back. Cameroonian midfielder Rene Enang fired a low shot through traffic, beating Silverbacks goalkeeper Joe Nasco and making it 3-2 in the 61st minute.
Following the goal from Enang, the teams would settle down, trading possession and a few scoring chances. The action picked up in stoppage time when the Revolution nearly equalized. Substitute midfielder Ibrahima Sissoko saw a ball fall favorably to him at the top of the box, but he blasted the open shot over the bar from 12 yards out.
The Silverbacks had one final chance to put the game out of reach when forward Kellen Gulley broke in on goal, but Kramer came up to make an impressive sliding save to keep the score at 3-2. That score would remain, and the “Battle For Atlanta” would go to the Silverbacks.
It’s on to the next round for the Silverbacks, who will travel to Sandy, Utah to take on MLS side Real Salt Lake next Tuesday. The third-round matchup will be available online, with details to follow later this week. In NASL play, the Silverbacks host the San Antonio Scorpions this Saturday at Atlanta Silverbacks Park. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. and tickets are still available by calling 404-969-4900 or visiting atlantasilverbacksfc.com.
SILVERBACKS LINEUP:GK Nasco, D Bloom, D Navarro, D Reiss, D Randolph, M Menjivar, M Blanco, M Barrera, M James (Willis 67’), M Cruz (Uribe 80’), F Luna (Gulley 61’)
REVOLUTION LINEUP: GK Kramer, D Davis (Redding 85’), D Nicholson, D Nwiloh, D Papanikolopoulos, M DeBoer (Landberg 61’), M Enang, M Smith (Sissoko 74’), F Poku, F Sumpter, F Maduka