The Atlanta Silverbacks shut out the Puerto Rico Islanders 3-0 tonight at RE/MAX Greater Atlanta Stadium in the ‘Backs' eighth shutout of the year. The win takes Atlanta’s record to 9-7-5, good enough for fifth place in the USL First Division standings.
While the game started slowly, Puerto Rico took initial control in the first half and applied good pressure to Atlanta's goal. In the 25th minute, Silverbacks’ goalkeeper Ryan McIntosh made a diving punch to clear a dangerous bending cross off the foot of Puerto Rico midfielder Noah Delgado. Atlanta countered with a header just off the mark from Martyn Lancaster in the 31st minute. Puerto Rico's best chance of the first half came when forward Alberto Zapata headed a ball off the crossbar. The Silverbacks took the lead in the 41st minute when David Hayes converted his second penalty kick in as many weeks. The Silverbacks' newest addition, Macoumba Kandji split several defenders and used his speed to charge into the box. The referee awarded Atlanta the kick; Hayes stepped to the spot and gave the ‘Backs the first lead of the night. The score held for the few minutes left in the half and Atlanta headed to the locker room with the one goal lead.
The Silverbacks came out in the second half and continued to thrive off the momentum of their goal. Machel Millwood entered the match in the 57th minute after missing most of the season due to a knee injury. Atlanta doubled their lead in the 74th minute when Rodrigo Rios sent a low driven cross from the left flank towards the center of the field; Daniel Antoniuk dummied the ball at the top of the 18 and let it run through to Kandji at the back post. Kandji dribbled the ball across the face of the goal, created some space, and ripped a shot into the far side netting. Atlanta continued to pound the Puerto Rico defense and make it known they would not accept anything less than a win. The Silverbacks’ speed up top with Millwood, Kandji, and Rafique Hassim tormented the Islanders’ back line for the remainder of the half. The ‘Backs cushioned their lead in the 83rd minute when Millwood quieted any questions about the state of his recovery. Luis Liendo took the ball to the endline, pulled it back towards the penalty spot, and Millwood sent a shot past Puerto Rico’s goalkeeper, Michael Behonick.
Atlanta's next and final home match will be September 1st in a rematch against Puerto Rico for the third time this season. For ticket information call 1-866-GO-BACKS or 404-969-4900.
Atlanta's starters: Ryan McIntosh, David Hayes, Matt Bobo, Martyn Lancaster, Omar Jarun (Alvin Hudson – 87), Scott Buete, Rodrigo Rios (Luis Liendo - 78), Tony McManus, Macoumba Kandji (Angel Rivillo – 86), Daniel Antoniuk (Rafique Hassim - 74), Warren Ukah (Machel Millwood – 57).
Goals: Hayes – 41 (PK); Kandji – 73 (Rios); Millwood – 83 (Liendo)
Cautions: Bobo – 72; Millwood - 84
Puerto Rico's starters: Michael Behonick, Jay Needham, Marco Velez (Jeremie Piette – 82), John Krause, Lars Lyssand (Willie Sims – 75), Edwin Miranda, David Johnson, Peter Villegas, Noah Delgado, Alberto Zapata (Gregory Simmonds – 58), Fabrice Noel (Mauricio Segovia – 87).
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