The Atlanta Silverbacks finished the 2006 season with a 10-13-5 record that earned them 35 points and put the team in 8th place of the USL First Division standings. Despite the losing record, the Silverbacks finished just out of reach of playoffs with the decision coming down to the final weekend of play.
The Silverbacks had the longest regular season of any team in the league, playing in both the first and last game of the 2006 USL First Division season. The team opened the season with their game against the Puerto Rico Islanders on April 21 and ended the season with their game against the Vancouver Whitecaps on September 10. Forward Machel Millwood led the team in goals and points with six and 14 respectively; he played in 21 games for the Silverbacks. Goalkeeper Felipe Quintero finished 8th in the league for goals allowed, 5th in the league for goalkeeping wins, 5th in the league for shutouts, and 5th in the league for save leaders. Defender Matt Bobo led the team in minutes with 2520 minutes played – he was one of two players in the entire league to not miss a single minute of any game.
Atlanta had a dismal start to the 2006 season and after a 0-3-2 road trip, the season ahead looked bleak for the Silverbacks. But a new home at RE/MAX Greater Atlanta Stadium made all the difference for the ‘Backs and the team turned the season around on opening night. The Silverbacks opened their new stadium on June 3 with a win against the Charleston Battery; Matt Bobo scored the first goal to ever be scored in RE/MAX Greater Atlanta Stadium. The win sparked an eight-game home undefeated streak which put the Silverbacks back towards the top of the table. The streak included a second home-win against Charleston that earned the Atlanta franchise and fans the title of 2006 Southern Derby Cup Champions. Also during the streak, the Silverbacks traveled to Wilmington to play in the U.S. Open Cup, but returned without a win after a penalty kick in the 77th minute gave the Hammerheads the victory.
The league-leading Montreal Impact handed the Silverbacks their first home loss on July 28th; Atlanta lost 2-1 after letting Montreal slip in the go-ahead goal during stoppage time. After showing a lack of focus at the end of the Montreal game, the Silverbacks turned their game around two days later against Minnesota proving they had mental toughness late in the game. During the final eight minutes, the Silverbacks came from behind twice and scored three goals to beat the Minnesota Thunder 3-2 on the road. The Silverbacks continued their up-and-down season throughout the month of August. On August 19th Miami FC and Romario came to town to start a three-game series between Atlanta and the USL First Division’s newest team. The teams split the two games in Atlanta with the Silverbacks winning the first game 2-1 and Miami winning the second game 2-1. The two teams traveled to Miami to play their third match and Miami handed the Silverbacks their worst loss of the year. Romario scored a hat-trick in the game and Miami FC embarrassed Atlanta with a 7-1 win.
The Silverbacks hosted the Rochester Raging Rhinos for their final home match of the season, Rochester walked away with a 2-1 victory. Heading into their final weekend of play, the Silverbacks not only remained in the playoff hunt, but controlled their own destiny. The team faced a three-game road trip to the west coast to finish up the season. Atlanta took hold of their playoff destiny with a 2-0 win over Portland. The ‘Backs jumped to 6th place after the win, but couldn’t hold onto the spot. The Silverbacks lost to Seattle after the Sounders were awarded a penalty kick during stoppage time; the team then had to play the next day against the Vancouver Whitecaps who beat the Silverbacks 1-0. The combination of the loss to the Seattle Sounders along with a win from Puerto Rico knocked the Silverbacks out of playoff contention and cut short their hopes of a post-season.
Jason Smith served as the head coach for the Silverbacks; he was assisted by Jukka Masalin and Rafael Salerno. The Silverbacks will hold three open tryouts during the winter for the 2007 squad - click on the tryouts link for more information. For additional information on the Atlanta Silverbacks please call 404-969-4900.
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