MIAMI, FL – After learning of a Minnesota Thunder win last night, the Atlanta Silverbacks knew that despite a win tonight, they would not be able to make the 2008 USL-1 playoffs, one year after reaching the championship match last season.
In the final match of the season for both teams, the ‘Backs fought hard and were unfortunate to get the 0-1 result against the Blues at Tropical Park Stadium in Florida.
(Photo Caption: The Atlanta Silverbacks fell just short of a playoff spot in the 2008 season. Photo by Ron Holt).
Injuries plagued the team this year, as the red-and-black lost one of their top scorers from the 2007 campaign, Warren Ukah, just three games into the season. Many core starters, such as Matthew Bobo, Justin Moore, Scott Buete, Tony McManus, Sean Cameron, and Macoumba Kandji all missed time, especially down the stretch, which made consistency on the pitch difficult.
In the match against the Blues, the ‘Backs squared off against a familiar face in Ansu Toure, former Silverback midfielder. Atlanta traded Toure to Miami on August 13th in return for Cameron.
Despite the nature of the game, bought teams came out of the gate firing, hoping to end the year on a positive note and set a tone for the 2009 season.
Atlanta nearly got on the scoreboard in the 23rd minute of the match, when David Hayes lofted a ball into the box, reaching the head of Martyn Lancaster. Lancaster’s powerful header was saved by Miami goalkeeper Sam Reynolds, then deflected out of bounds.
Miami would strike first, to take a lead early in the second half. After Toure crossed a ball in the middle, a misclearance from an Atlanta defender resulted in a ball popped up into the 6-yard box. Blues striker Alex Afonso would clank a point-blank shot off the crossbar, and reserve forward Sean Fraser slammed home the rebound for the first goal of the match.
Just five minutes later, Atlanta nearly answered, as Lancaster headed a ball off the Miami crossbar after a corner kick from Rodrigo Rios. Lancaster was able to re-head the rebound, but the ball went straight to Reynolds.
The Silverbacks had another great chance at scoring in the 79th minute when forward Chris Mahaffey crossed a ball into the box that deflected off the head of a Miami defender. Midfielder Duke Hashimoto found himself wide open in the box and headed the ball on frame, but could not get enough power on the shot to threaten the Miami keeper.
The match would ultimately finish 0-1 after four minutes of stoppage time. The gorillas would be unable to convert on a goal, and Miami’s defense held firm throughout the match. Atlanta was unable to beat the Blues this season in four meetings, one of which in the U.S. Open Cup.
The ‘Backs finished the 2008 regular season with an 11-game winless streak, dating back to August 16th. During the stretch, the Silverbacks were able to score just four goals, while allowing 14. In comparison, in the first 19 games of the year, Atlanta was the top offensive team in the league, registering 33 goals.
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Around the League:
Puerto Rico Islanders 0, Montreal Impact 0
Game Summary: (Atlanta Silverbacks vs. Miami FC Blues, September 21st, 2008)
MIA: Sean Fraser – 53’
Atlanta Starters: Felipe Quintero, Brent Sancho, Justin Moore, Martyn Lancaster, David Hayes, Josh Bolton, Tony McManus, Scott Buete, Rodrigo Rios, Jason McLaughlin, Chris Mahaffey
Substitutions: Duke Hashimoto for Jason McLaughlin (54’), Zach Kirby for Justin Moore (64’), Greg Chevalier for Justin Moore (64’), Aaron Paye for Greg Chevalier (72’), Jerson Monteiro for Chris Mahaffey (79’)
Cautions: Josh Bolton – 26’, Brent Sancho – 62’
Miami Starters: Sam Reynolds, Avery John, Eric Brunner, Jarryd Goldberg, Walter Ramirez, Caue Santos da Mata, Ricardo Cavalcante, Ansu Toure, Bruno Menezes, Connally Edozien, Alex Afonso
Substitutions: Sean Fraser for Connally Edozien (45’), Juan Pablo Galavis for Ansu Toure (63’), Chris Williams for Ricardo Cavalcante (86’), Cristiano Diaz for Chris Williams (90')
Cautions: Connally Edozien - 45', Alex Afonso – 61’
Weather: Partly Cloudy, 84F
Please note: All stats unofficial – refer to USLSoccer.com for official stats.