The Atlanta Silverbacks played two games over the weekend with the kickoffs less than 24 hours apart. The 'Backs began the weekend in Atlanta with a 3-1 win over the Minnesota Thunder on Friday night. The team flew to Cary, North Carolina Saturday to take on expansion side, the Carolina RailHawks - the match ended in a 0-0 draw.
ATLANTA 3 - MINNESOTA 1
The ‘Backs relied on a variety of goal scorers in Friday night's match; they had goals from Scott Buete, Tony McManus, and Machel Millwood. The action-filled match, which was broadcast live on the Fox Soccer Channel, culminated with a fireworks show for all the fans to enjoy.
The first half was pretty quiet with the Silverbacks maintaining control of the ball for the majority of the 45 minutes. The ‘Backs kept possession by building the ball out of the back and keeping it in Minnesota’s half. Minnesota had a few chances from Ansu Toure and Lencho Skibba, but nothing slipped past Atlanta’s goalkeeper Felipe Quintero. On the other end of the field the Silverbacks had several good chances and forced Minnesota to clear the ball off the goal-line twice. The Silverbacks took the lead in the 42nd minute when Buete finished the ball past Minnesota’s goalkeeper, Joseph Warren. Angel Rivillo sent a ball in for the Silverbacks from the right side to Millwood who received the ball amidst congestion and laid it off to an open Buete at the top of the 18-yard box. Buete struck it low and to the corner, beating Warren to his left side. The game remained scoreless for the rest of the half and the teams hit the locker rooms with a 1-0 lead for the home team.
Minnesota came out in the second half ready to mount a comeback and get back in the match – their efforts were weakened just two minutes into the half when Leo Gibson was ejected from the game after he received his second yellow card and the subsequent red card. The Silverbacks doubled their lead in the 65th minute with a goal by McManus. Rodrigo Rios sent a corner kick to the far post; Matt Bobo headed it back in front of the goal; Daniel Antoniuk got to the ball and headed it further towards the Thunder’s goal; McManus made a diving finish to score his first goal of the season. The Silverbacks wasted no time putting another goal in the net, they finished another one just two minutes later in the 67th minute. Last week’s USL Player of the Week, Antoniuk, recorded his second assist when he played Millwood into Minnesota’s half leaving him one-on-one with Warren. Millwood chipped the ball over Warren, ran past him, collected it with his chest and followed it into the net putting the Silverbacks up by three. Atlanta had many opportunities in the final minutes of the match, including a shot off the cross bar from Millwood in the 81st minute, but the Silverbacks couldn’t add to their lead. Minnesota snuck a goal in under the wire when the referee awarded them a penalty kick in the 90th minute. Quintero did all he could to protect his shutout - he saved the penalty kick, but Minnesota’s Brian Farber finished the rebound. The game ended 3-1 in favor of the Silverbacks.
In addition to the fireworks on the field during the game, the Silverbacks treated fans to a spectacular fireworks show after the match. The clear evening and great weather left an amazing vantage point for the show overhead.
ATLANTA 0 - CAROLINA 0
The Silverbacks traveled to SAS Park on Saturday to take on the Carolina RailHawks for their first ever meeting. The Silverbacks played at SAS Park once last summer in an exhibition match against the Rochester Raging Rhinos. After a trio of goals on Friday night, the Silverbacks were unable to put any away in North Carolina.
"Having two kick-offs in less than 24 hours is never easy. Of course we always want the win, but I was pleased to take an important point on the road... especially under the back-to-back circumstances," commented Head Coach Jason Smith.
The Silverbacks' next match is a rematch against the Carolina RailHawks next Saturday, May 5th at 7:55 pm at RE/MAX Greater Atlanta Stadium.
For ticket information, please call 1-866-GO-BACKS or visit www.atlantasilverbacks.com.
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