The Atlanta Silverbacks Men walked off the field this morning after three weeks of official preseason training. The next time their feet step between the lines the team will be in Puerto Rico facing off against the Islanders at 8:00 pm tomorrow night (Fri., April 21). The teams met twice last season, splitting the series with both teams winning on the road (a 4-2 Atlanta win in Puerto Rico and a 3-1 Puerto Rico win in Atlanta). Tomorrow night’s game marks the start of the 2006 USL First Division season for the Silverbacks.
The Silverbacks began preseason on April 1 and the past three weeks included a 0-0 draw with the Rochester Raging Rhinos, several closed preseason matches, and intense daily training sessions. Head Coach Jason Smith commented on this year’s preseason “I think we had a successful preseason overall. The team played well and we had plenty of opportunity to see everyone on the roster and evaluate where they’re at right now. I think we’re at a great starting place and by the time we reach the home opener we’ll be a difficult team to beat.”
Tomorrow night’s starting line-up will be picked from this weekend’s traveling squad: Joe Afful, Matt Bobo, Rowland Bruklis, Scott Buete, Fabian Dawkins, Antonio De la Torre, Liam George, David Hayes, Omar Jarun, Shaun Kalnasy, Jason McLaughlin, Tony McManus, Matt O’Toole, Alex Pineda-Chacon, Felipe Quintero, Rodrigo Rios, Marlon Rojas, Josh Smith, and Warren Ukah. Felipe Quintero is unavailable for Friday night’s game and the Silverbacks have therefore called up Silverbacks Reserve goalie Rowland Bruklis for this week’s travel squad. Bruklis has been training with the USL First Division team for several weeks.
Silverbacks’ defender David Hayes, spent preseason training hard and getting to know his new teammates, “This year’s preseason went really well. We did lots of running and we’re much more fit than we were last year. Aside from fitness we’re further advanced in other areas, like our chemistry on and off the field.” Hayes commented about starting the season on the road, “This year every guy is willing to work until the end – home or away won’t make a difference.”
Atlanta hold’s the edge against Puerto Rico with a 4-2-1 lifetime record (1-1-1 away). Despite Atlanta’s winning record, Puerto Rico (38 points) finished just ahead of Atlanta (33 points) last season.
SILVERBACKS ON FOX SOCCER CHANNEL
The Silverbacks’ away game against the Charleston Battery on Fri., June 23 will be televised live on the Fox Soccer Channel at 8:00 pm. The FSC coverage this year will expand to include a USL highlight show at 8:00 pm on July 14, July 28, and September 1.